backpackerWhy was the math book so sad? Because it was full of problems.

Some days it feels like life is full of problems, but not all of the day’s problems are really mine to carry. That is where the concept of healthy boundaries actually brings freedom. (see Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend)

Simply stated, boundaries define what is mine and what isn’t. They show where I end and someone else begins. Just like property lines determine which grass I am responsible to mow and what sidewalks I am required to clear, personal boundaries encompass what I am responsible to steward and put responsibility for other things back where it belongs.

For example, I am responsible for my own feelings, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors (and their consequences), choices, values, limitations, talents, thoughts, and desires as well as the commandment to give and receive love. Or as Paul wrote, “each one should carry their own load.” (Galatians 6:5 NIV) The word for load means cargo or the burden of daily toil, as in the everyday things we all need to do. I carry my backpack of responsibilities and you carry yours.

But Paul also wrote for us to “carry each other’s burdens.” (Galatians 6:2 NIV) In the Greek, the word for burden means excess burdens like a boulder that is too heavy to carry alone. It is these times of crisis and tragedy where others step in to help carry the burden that could crush and weigh us down.

Sometimes establishing boundaries means that I have to say “Yes” and accept help. Sometimes it means I have to say “No” and make someone carry their own load. Either way, boundaries keep me from shouldering what God never intended for me to bear alone.

What about you? Of the problems you face today, how many of them are really your responsibility? When is carrying another’s burden helpful and when does it hurt?

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Tools For The Journey – Boundaries
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