Associate Rector Reflects January
I AM IN LOVE…
with boundaries. I didn’t know the word at the time, but I recognized one of my classmates at Seminary of the Southwest as being very good at speaking the truth without worrying what we all thought of her. She was never rude, but when she spoke she had an authority that made us listen. I now know that Dorothy had good boundaries.
For example, in order to make children of seminary students feel welcome, the staff made children welcome everywhere, even at the Thursday evening family Eucharist. But as a former schoolteacher, I was appalled at the behavior of some of the children, whose parents looked on adoringly as one 5-year old ran up and down the aisle screaming, and another threw his shoe over the altar. So when Dorothy (not her real name) planned a party to celebrate a classmate’s wedding, she firmly stated that it was an adult party. No children, please. “Wow,” I thought. “Dorothy is really brave, telling parents that they can’t bring their kids.” But the way she said it, without apologizing or looking scared, made it a done deal. Dorothy had that kind of authority.
I have recently begun attending meetings where the stated purpose is to learn to live a sane life that does not depend on anyone else changing behavior. The word for this kind of living is “boundaries,” knowing what you can control and not trying to control what you cannot. I mulled over that for weeks and realized that everyone could benefit from living that way. Everyone.
For example, I have recently noticed how exhausted I become listening to a close relative whose happiness totally depends on some of us losing weight, or divorcing terrible husbands, or changing jobs. None of this happens, so the relative is always miserable. This relative has no boundaries, inserting herself into the lives around her, always dissatisfied if we don’t change to suit her. And she makes everyone else miserable, also.
I have also noticed an All Saints’ parishioner who invites woman after woman to join Daughters of the King. The parishioner gets “yes” answers, but she also gets far more “no, thank yous,” and still she keeps on inviting. This woman’s happiness does not depend on receiving a “yes.” She knows she has something to offer, and offers. This parishioner has healthy boundaries, and she is never upset, taking acceptance and refusal with equal serenity.
Another well-boundaried All Saints’ parishioner once said, after recovering from having her feelings hurt, “It is none of my business what others think of me.” Ponder that! It is healthy boundaries.
Imagine what the world would look like if we all did our best, not worried about what people thought of our hair, our clothes, our friends and family, our decisions. We just calmly lived as best we could, not depending on anyone else’s acceptance or approval.
If you are beginning to fall in love with healthy boundaries, or you’re simply curious about how to establish healthy boundaries, plan to attend two Adult Forums on February 2 and 9, and listen to the Rev. Lisa Hines, Canon for Wellness and Care, tell better than I have about why healthy boundaries make for more joy-filled and healthier living for everyone.
Tags: All Saints' Newsletter