Cheri’s (not her real name) dad verbally abused her while she was growing up.
He used words that made her feel shame. That made her feel small.
He was was respected in the community, but turned into a bully when the doors closed.
Cheri grew up thinking that she was bad.
She grew up thinking that she didn’t have the ability to make her own decisions, because her decisions were always seen as less wise than that of her father.
She grew up thinking that if she would just push the ugly words down, then one day they would stop.
Except they didn’t.
Cheri became a woman. She married, and had two children. She was active in her church. She had good friends, and people loved her at her job. She lived two lives.
One in her own home and community.
Another every Sunday at her father’s house where the verbal abuse continued around the dinner table.
In front of her children.
In front of her husband.
As an adult, this really beautiful, good woman continued to feel shame and to feel small.
All this week we’re going to talk about boundaries.
We’re familiar with boundaries. There are personal boundaries, like you don’t eat four Snicker bars after lunch. There are rules that keep us safe, like stopping at a red light.
But there are other boundaries.
Important ones as you become the mom you want to be. These are boundaries that allow you to have the healthiest relationship possible when there’s unhealthy stuff involved.
What are boundaries?
Setting boundaries is about having the courage to share what you need with a measure of grace.
What does this have to do with being a mom?
Boundaries can absolutely change not just you, but your child, because suddenly your child is watching you work through conflict or difficult relationships. You’re showing your child how to be treated, and also how to treat others.
You’re showing them how to grow and stretch and change even when someone else refuses.
Q: Do you need to set boundaries with a still-dysfunctional loved one? Have you set them? Why or why not?
Q: Do you feel guilty for setting boundaries? Why or why not?
Q: There are two extremes in setting boundaries. One is not setting them at all. The other is rigid and extreme and the motivation is punishment or revenge. Romans 12:18 reminds us, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” How might setting boundaries as described above help you live more at peace?
Write down the name of the person who hurts you, or your children, with their words or actions. Now, share your need. Not in person, but in your journal. Articulate it.
Second, ask God to shine His light on your heart. What is your motivation in setting boundaries?
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