How many times have you packed your bags? Collected your children and rode off in a fury of pain and confusion? Lost. Unable to figure out what to do next. When married to someone struggling with an addiction everyday life can be downright traumatic.
Living a Life Without Boundaries
You wake up and the sun is shining on another beautiful day. The pitter-patter of your children’s feet echoes through the rooms of your home as you stretch and roll over in bed.
One more minute of bliss.
One more moment of peace.
You eat your breakfast and get your children ready for their day of play. Your husband has already left for work. Should you have a short Bible study this morning? It’s getting late. The kids have dispersed to play with their friends so you decide to do it later. Instead, you turn on some worship music and begin to tidy the house. You always feel best when the house is clean.
You head outside to catch a few rays of sun. Gosh, it’s a lovely day! The birds are singing and the neighbourhood is filled with the sounds of children laughing with glee. Suddenly, you feel like cooking. A few groceries later and your home is filled with the smells of a simple, homemade Coq au Vin, a favourite family recipe inherited from your Grandmother. You prefer to cook everything slow and long, which gives you an opportunity to do the Bible study you skipped from this morning.
Feeling totally "hygge", you settle into a spot of sun by the window and open your Bible.
“MOM! My brother bit me!”
Sigh. Okay, deal with the kids and then have your quiet time.
Two hours and five lego houses later, you finally return to your quiet space.
Beep! Beep! Beep! The oven timer screams.
It’s time to make your side dishes and finish dinner. The Bible study will have to wait.
It’s six-thirty and your husband is late, as usual. He probably ate at work again. Asserting your boundaries, you serve family dinner without him. It’s delicious. Fragrant. Comforting. Even the kids liked it!
You leave the dishes and bathe the children. Jammies on. Stories read. Prayers said. You turn out the light as you hear the front door open. Ah, there he is. Hoping the children don’t hear your husband come home, you tiptoe down the stairs to greet him.
“Hello,” you say.
“Hi,” he won’t look you in the eye.
“How was your day?” you probe.
“Long,” he replies, signaling he is tired and doesn’t want to talk.
“Your dinner is in the fridge,” you tell him.
“Thanks,” he says, heading into the kitchen.
He takes a minuscule amount and that’s when you know something is up. You follow him to the table and sit down. He looks perturbed at your presence.
“Why were you late?” you ask.
“I was working,” he says.
“Working on what?” you’re walking on dangerous ground now.
“Just working,” he replies. He looks directly at you and tries to keep his face straight to “prove” he is not lying.
“Okay,” you say, feeling equally suspicious as dejected while you retreat to your bedroom.
Where was he? Who was he with? What did he do? What did he eat? How much longer are you going to live this way? How will you ever know the truth?!
Tears fall from your eyes as your mind spins out of control with questions that have no answer.
“Come to Me,” the Lord whispers in your soul.
You remember your Bible study, should have done it today! Maybe you would have been more prepared for yet another disappointment. You find your Bible and flip it open.
Sorry overwhelms you as you mourn for your relationship. With heaving sobs you pour your heart out to Jesus, telling Him of all the dreams you have given up on. A family. A loving relationship. The very core of your basic needs- broken.
“God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.”
Your tears have dried. Sometimes you wonder how you have any left to cry. Each day is a new day. Each day you start again. Each day you put your hope in the Lord and trust that He will deliver you from this pain and restore the years you have lost.
Each day you both hope and hurt again.
What the Bible Says About Boundaries
It sounds holy to continue to “put our trust in God” and not enforce boundaries in the way our loved ones treat us. In fact, almost every pastor I have seen has suggested doing just that. Pray. Keep faith. Don’t give up.
In truth, living a life without boundaries is damaging and lacking in Godly initiative.
“Because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
God “guides our feet in the way of peace”. He doesn’t intervene and do all the work for us. He doesn’t make decisions for us. He doesn’t bless us in our inaction. God allows us to stay where we are until we have learned the lesson that we will only get out of the darkness when we take action.
Each day, God rejuvenates our strength and gives us an opportunity to “see the light”. I’m not saying you have to walk away from your loved one. On the contrary! (Although, there are times that is all there is left to do) What I am saying is that we must have boundaries. We must have a plan. We must protect our hearts, our souls and the spiritual atmosphere of our home.
The Bible lays out plenty of boundaries on who we are to associate with. Let’s examine a few:
1. Do not hang out with angry people because you’re going to become one too.
“Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious— don’t get infected.”
2. Do not even sit at a table and eat with someone who is sexually immoral, a drunk, a cheater or liar, an idol worshiper or people who curse.
“What I was saying is that you should not associate with someone who calls himself a brother or sister but lives contrary to all we stand for: committing immoral sexual acts, consumed with desire for more, worshipping tangible lifeless things, using profanity, drinking into oblivion, swindling and cheating others. Do not even sit at the table with a person like this.”
3. Do not walk the same path as the wicked- go your OWN way!
4. Do not try to have a partnership with someone engaging in evil. Yes, this means the “oneness” of your marriage has been broken.
“Don’t develop partnerships with those who are not followers of Jesus’ teachings. For what real connection can exist between righteousness and rebellion? How can light participate in darkness?”
5. Do not give the precious, holy pieces of God’s Word to the spiritually perverse because they will not understand and use it against you (an example could be twisting Eph. 5:22, “A wife should submit to her husband”).
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
Loving with Godly Boundaries
The Bible gives many boundaries on who we should hang out with but it also says to love those who sin!
"I did not come to call the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to repent], but sinners to repentance [to change their old way of thinking, to turn from sin and to seek God and His righteousness].”
Our loved ones are struggling. Many, are struggling with mental illness which is beyond their control [Read: The Biggest Lie about Addiction]. They need us to pray for them, support them while they actively work on recovery (key phrase: actively work on) and love them with the love of God. Jesus loves them and wants them to be happy, healthy, whole and holy!
However, we cannot support their engagement in evil. We need Godly boundaries to protect our hearts, homes, dreams, emotions, faith, hope and calling from God so we don’t lose our way and get lost in a story that falls short of the glory of God.
Do you need help with boundaries? Take my FREE video course, "Breaking Up with Bad Boundaries", discussing the to six mistakes we make when it comes to making, enforcing and living out our personal boundaries.
Once you know what you're doing wrong, it's much easier to figure out what to do right! (I also offer a longer, paid course called, "UnBound Me" that will walk you through each step of making boundaries).
Click here to take the free video course. You'll receive the link to the videos via email and there is a workbook to go along with it!
Already took the free course and you're ready to make boundaries that work? Click here to purchase my eCourse, UnBound Me.
This is an intensive course that will walk you through step-by-step to make personal, loving, Godly-centered boundaries. There are over twenty videos, bonus podcasts, a place to chat with others and worksheets for each lesson.
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