This business of boundaries
, when it comes to relationships can appear complex. In some ways it is, but like other seemingly complex issues, when one breaks it down it is usually quite simple or at least has a key that unlocks the whole. As an air traffic controller,
what I did looked complex. There are multitudes of moving elements, decisions being made and forces of nature in motion all the time. Yes, right now as you read this BLOG. Right above your head. No matter where you are on the earth, and even in outer space, parts are moving. (Anyone on the space station reading this?). In reality the principles used by every air traffic controller on this earth fall into three tenants, the safe, orderly, and expeditious movement of air traffic. In that order. All the standards, tools, technology, data and training fall back into putting and keeping all those moving parts into this basic order while cooperating with the forces of lift, thrust, gravity and drag.
The elegant simplicity and harmony of it all is stunning. However, simple does not imply easy (my air traffic colleagues can drop their indignation now). The key in moving all these parts into harmonious order is this: knowing and respecting boundaries.
So it is with harmony in relationships. However, the place to start is establishing a healthy inner relationship. Yes, a healthy relationship with and within oneself. Like they say when flying, “in case of an emergency put your own mask on first before helping others”. A healthy intra-personal harmony puts us in a place of health and strength from which to relate to others. Realizing where there may disharmony in our own lives is a bit tricky and usually, uncomfortable. Certain outward behaviors is a place to start. Behaviors that alienate us from others, harm ourselves or others, are manipulative or are manipulative to others, are a few indicators of inner disharmony. But these kinds of indicators are easily misunderstood. For instance, there is a time to separate from some people and righteous self-sacrifice may look like harm to those looking on.
A more objective plumb line
The bible has a list of 10 ‘thou shalt nots”. The first nine are “don’t dos”, but the last one is “don’t even want to do the other nine”. Even wanting to do the first nine is an indicator of some area of dis-harmony within. New Testament says this: Love others as you love yourself.” That is a step deeper than “Do into others as you would have others do unto you.” Loving ones-self in a healthy non-self-centered way? Wow.
As a person with a Christian world view, I see people as triune beings: spirit, soul and body. The soul can be further described with three parts: the mind (thought life), will and emotions. Our inner man is our spirit and soul, while the outer is the body. These are integrated systems and dependent on one-another, but have defined functions and purposes. When one confuses the purpose of one with the other, like putting oil in the gas tank of a car, things don’t work well and certainly won’t last as long as designed to. Inner boundaries have been compromised.
Harmony in Three Parts
We are, at the core, spirit beings. We are designed to live out of our spirit, through our soul, as personality, and relate to the natural environment with our bodies that see, touch, smell, hear and taste. Once we are aware of the ideal functionality of the marvel that we are, we can identify where adjustments need to be made. The source of information to define the ideal functionality should be chosen carefully. When I have an issue with my car or airplane, I go to the source: the manufacturers manual. Or at least, I go to someone who knows that source intimately. Both my plane and my car are big investments so I do not trust their care to just anyone. Nope. I choose very carefully AND I keep an eye on what they do.
How much more our person? There are a lot of great resources available: Pastors, Priests, Counselors, Support Groups for all kinds of sorting things out. Go to the self-help section of any bookstore and the choices are overwhelming. Although,I have found a great deal of help in these kinds of recourses. As I mentioned in the BLOG that got this whole boundaries thing going, the book Boundaries,
is a good resource to begin with. Personally, I have chosen first and foremost to go to the One who made me. No, not my parents, although I am grateful for the critical part they played in who i am. As an aside, I remember making a rather snarky comment to my dad as a teen about how they had raised me. I remember him coming back with the remark, “you didn’t come with an instruction manual. We are just figuring it out as we go”! End of snarkyness. However, the fact is, we came with an instruction manual AND a Guide, if we choose to employ them. We have the Holy Bible and it’s Author the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, The Word become flesh. God with us. Immanuel.
That’s the best place to start. Our Stonebridge journey will be solid when built with solid stones, rather than damaged, cracked or weak ones. Our inner life is important and its issues are generally not as complex as the outward expression may indicate. Going to the One who made you will show you the keys so you can build your Stonebridge upon The Rock, Jesus.
What one step will you take this week to asses the condition of your inner harmony?