We lived in this fabulous old house growing up.
It had character by the bucket load.
I loved that place.
The house came with one of those ancient, bright red gas stoves in the kitchen. (What was it with us and big red things?) To cook on it, you had to turn on the burner with one hand with a match ready in the other hand so you could light it before the gas ran too long. Otherwise phfwoom! There went your eyelashes.
It took me years to work up the nerve to light the thing.
The house also had these huge, lovely windows that rattled when it thundered, let every inch of sunlight in, and kept little to no cold air out.
I loved those too.
But my favorite, favorite thing about the house was that the floor creaked outside my bedroom door.
At night, I would lie in my bed and listen as my dad came down the hall. I could hear his ankles popping, the floor creaking, the light switches turning off, and the doors locking as he made the rounds, shutting us all in.
I felt so secure there in my bed, listening.
The boundary lines had been laid.
No one was going out, and no one was coming in.
We were safe.
My sweet Christian has this pesky little climbing habit that I believe I’ve mentioned before.
His latest scheme is to tackle the playhouse on the swing set.
It requires climbing up a ladder and being coordinated enough not to fall out once you make it to the top.
The boy still toddles like a penguin. I just don’t think he’s playhouse-ladder ready.
Because I am incredibly brilliant and little lazy, I decided to stop fighting with him about climbing the thing.
So I propped a folded-up lawn chair against the bottom of the ladder and thought, That’ll stop him!
We’ve untangled him several times now from that silly chair. He makes it half way before he realizes he’s stuck and cries in terror.
Yesterday I gave in. I skipped the whole ladder/chair business and just hoisted him straight up into that coveted playhouse.
He immediately wanted down.
I could tell by the look in his big, wide blue eyes.
It just wasn’t safe up there.
I’ve read a few parenting books about this.
In order to feel secure, kids need limits, boundary lines they know they mustn’t cross.
But it’s not just physical boundaries they need, like fences around the yard or Mama’s genius lawn-chair solution.
They need those invisible boundaries that are created by rules, guidelines, schedules and curfews.
They need to know that there are places they cannot go. Lines in life they cannot cross. They need to know that we will say ‘no’ to them.
They especially need to know that if they go too far or get too close, someone will be there to pull them back.
Because there is great freedom in trusting that someone is there to keep you safe.
You know how I talked last week about being careful about what we watch? And I mentioned that there are two shows that I struggle with in particular and that I’ve just decided are better for me not to view?
I didn’t tell you what the shows were, and it was quite on purpose.
It doesn’t really matter what the shows are because that’s not the issue.
The issue is that I know myself. I know where I struggle. I know where I tend to stumble. And I know I can waste some serious hours watching some generally worthless TV.
So I have set a boundary on myself in regards to what I watch.
It’s similar to when I had to limit how many times I checked my e-mail. I was becoming obsessed and getting out of control.
I needed to be pulled back.
I needed a boundary.
I needed protection from myself.
In His Word, God has given us (kids and adults) very clear boundary lines for our lives.
He tells us, among other things, not to kill, lie, or steal from others not because He’s some great big killjoy, but because He knows what’s best.
Those rules are for our own protection.
Because we live in the 21st century, there are things in our lives that the Bible doesn’t implicitly warn against. Places where we must use our best judgement (and the wisdom He gives) to determine what’s right.
No, He doesn’t address TV watching or internet use in His Word, but I know what He wants from me. I’ve felt his conviction. He’s given me a clear boundary.
I don’t know what your personal struggles are, but I have to ask. Where is God calling you to set some boundary lines?
He loves us and wants our best. So let’s protect ourselves where we can, shall we?
Turn off the show.
Limit the internet.
Cancel the magazine.
End the relationship.
There is safety in setting boundaries.
And rest assured.
There is such comfort in knowing that Someone is always there to protect us.
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”
Oh! And the giveaway! (Chosen by random selection, of course.)
Congrats to… Susie!
You win a copy of God Bless Our Easter!
Thanks to everyone who commented.
Wow! I love that picture of you tucked into bed listening while your dad made the rounds and made you all secure.
I’ve never been good at setting boundaries. And it’s cost me dearly. I have to learn every lesson the hard way. Many painful falls due to my habit of ignoring the folded up lawn chairs that God had placed in front of ladders.
But…there is something to said for daring to climb, too. We just have to learn the difference between climbing over HIs barriers and climbing over the enemy’s barriers.
You are exactly right. And for all of us- the climbers and non-climbers alike- discernment is key. And (of course) trusting in God.
Thank goodness we have Him, is all I can say.