I have just finished reading Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend‘s classic book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership (p 31).
The goal of the book is to help the reader use biblical boundaries appropriately to achieve the relationships and purposes that God intends for them as His child. In other words, if we are going to be disciples of Jesus and make disciples for Jesus then we had better establish biblical boundaries.
Here are my favorite 20 quotes.
1. To rescue people from the natural consequences of their behavior is to render them powerless.
2. Establishing boundaries in thinking involves three things: We must own our own thoughts; we must grow in knowledge and expand our minds; we must clarify our distorted thinking. Probably the easiest distortions to notice are in personal relationships. We rarely see people as they really are; our perceptions are distorted by past relationships and our own preconceptions of who we think they are, svn the people we know best. We do not see clearly because of the “logs” in our eyes “(Matt 7:3-5).
3. Many people do not take ownership for how they resist love. They have a lot of love around them, but do not realize that their loneliness is a result of their own lack of responsiveness.
4. Boundary development is an ongoing process, yet its most crucial stages are in our very early years, where our character is formed.
5. Adult children of alcoholics never feel safe in relationships. They’re always waiting for the other person to let them down or attack then unexpectedly. They keep their guard up constantly.
6. You cannot change others. More people suffer from trying to change others than from any other sickness.
7. Our lives are our responsibility.
8. You own your boundaries. They don’t own you.
9. People who own their lives do not feel guilty when they make choices about where they are going.
10. One sure sign of boundary problems is when your relationship with one person has the power to affect your relationships with others. You are giving one person way too much power in your life.
11. Dysfunctional families are known for a certain type of boundary problem called triangulation. It goes something like this: Person A is angry at Person B. Person A does not tell Person B. Person A calls Person C and gripes about Person B. Person C enjoys Person A’s confidence and listens when A wants to play the triangle game. Triangulation is the failure to resolve a conflict between two persons and the pulling in of a third to take a side.
12. The difference between responding and reacting is choice. When you are reacting, they are in control. When you respond, you are.
13. The saddest people on earth are those who end their days with no relationships in which they are truly known and truly loved.
14. We do not communicate our feelings by saying, “I feel that you…” We communicate our feelings by saying, “I feel sad, or hurt, or lonely, or scared, or…” Such vulnerability is the beginning of intimacy and caring.
15. God, at his deepest level, is a lover (1 John 4:8). He is relationally oriented and relationally driven. He desires connection with us from womb to tomb: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3).
16. To be a Christian is to be a co-laborer with God in the community of humanity. By giving to others we find true fulfillment.
17. You only have the power to change yourself. You can’t change another person. You must see yourself as the problem, not the other person. To see another person as the problem to be fixed is to give that person power over you and your well-being.
18. It’s useless to try to deal with your boundary conflicts with yourself until you’re actively developing safe, trusting, grace-and-truth relationships with others.
19. The Bible is a living book about relationships. Relationship of God to people, people to God, and people to each other.
20. Relationship is what the gospel is about. It is the gospel of “reconciliation” (Rom 5:11; Col 1:19-20). This gospel brings hostile parties together (Col 1:21) and heals relationships between God and humanity, and between people.