Have you ever found yourself wondering:
Can I set limits and still be a loving person?
- What are my legitimate boundaries?
- How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money?
- Why do I feel guilty when I consider setting boundaries?
Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend give you biblically-based answers to these and other tough questions, showing you how to set healthy boundaries with parents, spouses, children, friends, coworkers, and even yourself.
You'll see vital principles of boundaries at work as Drs. Cloud and Townsend take you through a day in the life of "Sherrie", first as she lives with almost no boundaries, then as she begins to apply proper boundaries with others in her life.
- Time to make some boundaries ...
Henry Cloud and John Townsend's book Boundaries contains three areas that I found particularly helpful: examples of the principles illustrated in everyday circumstances, a discussion of the resistance to boundaries, and the healthy understanding of anger.
Perhaps the most helpful illustration in everyday circumstances that was used in the book was the comparison of Sherrie in the beginning and end of the book. Her example is well used to illustrate an individual who has had her boundaries eroded and is struggling to establish reasonable lines in her life and still remain committed to living as a Christian. The concluding use of Sherrie, though at times overly optimistic, displays the potential for a person who has correctly put in place the discussed boundaries in their lives. These illustrations serve to give the reader hope and a clearer picture of what might be achieved by applying the boundaries principles. Such illustrations help me to visualize a positive outcome to the blockage that I may now be experiencing due to poorly implemented boundaries.
Near the conclusion of the book Cloud and Townsend devote an entire chapter to the resistance to boundaries which I found of noted benefit. I agree with the authors that it is easy for me to recognize the need for boundaries, but this chapter's concept goes a long way in creating a more significant desire to create and hold to boundaries in my life by increasing the desire for boundaries. Increasing my desire, as accomplished in this chapter by identifying well many of the challenges, both conscious and unconscious, that I have toward boundaries and providing healthy biblical support for appropriate boundaries. One example is the “Real Needs” section of this chapter. Living in a world surrounded by people of differing economic, social, educational, political, and emotional strata makes it very easy for me to become overwhelmed with the needs that surround me. I have indeed been blessed in each one of these areas and find that even members of my extended family have not been able to share the same level of blessing. There is a real need to recognize the reality of the needs around me, yet also not only know and understand there are limits on my abilities to give, but establish appropriate boundaries to that giving. The use of 2 Corinthians 9:7 and Exodus 18 were helpful here.
Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend address the emotion of anger in several places throughout the book that each time prove especially helpful. While scripture frequently allows the reader to witness the emotion of anger present in God and I also agree that this is a valid emotion, yet I always struggle for the correct expression of this emotion in humans. I appreciated this book's identification of anger as evidence that our boundaries have been violated. Also that “anger is a sign that we need to move forward to confront the threat” (page 112). Allowing anger's source to be recognized and seeing it as an empowering factor for our response can prove of profound benefit. Anger can be directed with surgical precision to real difficulty and energize the power to effect lasting change. Then by using the anger to address the source one might effectively remove the need for such a turbulent emotion in the situation in the future. In this way anger, used appropriately, becomes a means to less anger.
After having avoided this book for some time, I am thankful for the helpful illustrations, motivations for overcoming my resistance to creating boundaries, and additional insights into the emotion of anger.