“Do not remove the ancient boundary which your fathers have set.” Proverbs 22:28 NKJV
I just finished reading the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend. I have heard this book referred to on the two good doctors radio show and on the Dave Ramsey show. First published in 1992, I finally checked out a copy from our local library. It is not my intention to do a review of the book, however, I do recommend that you add it to your reading list. It has got me to thinking a lot about boundary lines in general and how they apply to this whole Stonebridge defining, identifying, building concept. It may take more than one post to deal with this, but here is an introduction to this idea.
In some ways it relates to the margins idea I wrote about in The Value of Margins – A Lesson From Ladders and Air Traffic Control. However, margins are the space that surround and protect certain boundaries and may not be associated with every sort of boundary. In retrospect, it probably would have been a better process to have written on the idea of boundaries before margins, but life, the stonebridge we are traveling, does not always occur in an orderly or logical fashion. What would be the fun in that? So here we go: A boundary is defined as:
- a line that marks the limits of a geographical area; a dividing line, “the eastern boundary of the wilderness”
- a limit of a subject or sphere of activity. “a community without class or political boundaries”
synonyms: border, frontier, partition, dividing line, divide, division, borderline, cutoff point
Origin-early 17th century: variant of dialect bounder, from bound2 + -er1, perhaps on the pattern of limitary .
In looking for a stimulating quote on boundaries I was intrigued to see how many were about pushing, going past, changing or even disregarding real or perceived boundaries. There were a lot of quotes about establishing one’s own boundaries without regard to how it affects others, a sort of throwing caution to the wind, “I want out of jail” sort of feel. It seems these days we don’t care for the idea of boundaries. Yet, they do exist, apparently we need them, and secretly, we do want them. Proverbs, a book of wisdom, clearly says to “not remove the ancient landmark”. The word landmark comes from a word that means “a twisted cord” as in one used as a boundary marker; A limit, a bound. I think boundaries have gotten a bad rap and I want to explore the value of boundaries.
Do not get me wrong, I am all for exploring boundaries; examining the edges and evaluating the boundaries in which we are operating. Yet, to what end? I propose it is to discover the “ancient boundaries”: Those that have been set and should not be moved. Then with reference to those, moving or eliminating boundaries that are limiting, ill-fitting or just plain wrong. Here is the good news: In spite of how they may look at first, the “ancient” boundaries actually free and open up space to us rather than close us in. I propose that the reason most modern quotes have to do with pushing past boundaries is because we sense they have been artificially set and are in fact limiting in ways not intended by our Creator. Yes, this one will definitely take more than one post. As a startling point here are a few broad areas in which the value of ancient boundaries are revealed:
– within our spirit, soul and body.
– within our soul: mind, will and emotions.
When we confuse or attempt to get one of these internal areas to do the work of the other, all kinds of issues emerge and not only affect us personally, but how we relate externally.
– with others: spouse, immediate family, extended family, friends, co-workers, neighbors.
– Geographical: property lines, personal property, public and community areas.
– financial: contracts, budgets, financial accounts.
– personal and public safety: rules of the road, airspace, public safety laws, even (gasp) the whole conceal and carry thing!
– In our occupations: Job and position descriptions, titles, and compensation
Have you noticed something? All of this boundary discussion encompasses one common thread: relationship. Our relationship with ourself, others, our environment, money, in other word with all aspects of creation. Boundaries are in fact a form of communication.
Yep, this is definitely going to take more than one post! I hope I gave you something to start thinking about.
What other kinds of ancient boundaries, those that exist to form and inform our lives, come to mind? Leave your thoughts below.