Your boundary reminder:



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(I recently read a very informative blog post & thought I’d share!)

http://www.morethanamess.com/boundaries/

I remember being in Africa when the word “boundaries” was first brought up to me. I had never been taught by my parents, or the religious organization I belonged to, that boundaries were okay, or more than that- necessary. I thought you always give grown ups their way, you say yes to everything your parents say (even when it can be harmful), and you don’t question your authorities. 

Boundaries seemed to be taboo.

Over a period of months, the concept slowly began sinking in. I clearly remember defining boundaries with my mother last year in order to start recovering from an eating disorder.

A year later, and with life looking way different, I’m once again reminded of how important my boundaries with her all. Not just with her, with everyone. It’s easy to allow the words and opinions of others to push us around. But which one of us wants to let another run the life WE’RE given?

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You, just like me, have your own life to live. Good choices, bad, they’re all yours. Sometimes, it’s the lack of boundaries that hold you back from living your life as you’d actually like. Boundaries sound a little heavy, like restraints, but in reality, they lead you to a life of more and more freedom. Ah, we love freedom.

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A religious experience.

I hate being called religious. A spiritual Christian? Not so bad. Here’s a snipet of what religion has looked like in my interestingly adventurous life:

I joined a religious community for about 5 years.

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I had just quit using drugs and partying the month I showed up to my new church. My first day there was a Friday and a section of the service was open-mic. Testimony time.

I was SO excited by God intervening in my life and saving me from death just weeks before. I jumped on the opportunity. I rushed to the front, took the microphone, and began to share about how God mercifully saved me. I wore a T-shirt, had big silver hoops in my ears, had a long blingy necklace on, and wore eye makeup that was much too dark for such a gathering.

I didn’t know I stood out.

Within the next 5 years, I was squeezed and pushed into the most uncomfortable mold. All I knew was that I wanted to make God happy! My new community of people was telling me- “Anna, that make up isn’t godly. You need to wear a head-covering. You shouldn’t wear jewelry. You laugh too much. That music you listen to? It’s secular. (Which was Skillet, Red, Lecrae, etc.) Your personality? Much too rebellious. Sister, you NEED to change! In fact, you need to call girls “sisters” and guys “brothers.” You’ve also gotta stop using the word “crap.”

You see, I always needed to change. Nothing was ever good enough.

Now if you are the perfectionist type, a people pleaser, and a passionate God lover, that makes for quite the combination. It’s easy to get lost. 

I lost who I was. I traded in my identity. I gave up who Christ called me to be. I became a slave to people. I wanted to fit in, but as hard as I tried, I still always stood out!

Maybe I was never called to be part of the crowd.Image result for getting out of the boat and walking on water

I came more “Americanized” than others to the Russian community. I came with a backpack of Utah sarcasm to people who misinterpreted it as mean and cocky. I arrived too loud.

5 years and 50,000 trials later, I realize that’s the only person I want to be: I want to be that outsider who runs up before more 100+ people to share about the miracles God’s done in my life, not having a care in the world of what they might think.

Since I’ve left that circle, cult, or maybe crowd, I’ve been on a journey back to the “me” God has called me to be. As such, I’m able to love freely, and when I share Christ, I share Him passionately. I’ve learned that my outside appearance will never please everyone. (Lately, it’s my tattoos that religious folks are triggered by.) Perhaps, it’s not the outside that really matters. I’ve undoubtedly had a fair share of mistakes, and I have yet to reach perfection!

On my own, I am sinful, but in Christ, I am righteous. As long as I have His grace, I’ll stay alive. Because it’s not about what I can do, but about what He has done. HE is all we need. 

Religion squelches. Law kills. Spirit gives life.

2-Corinthians 3: 4-6: “ And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

[That’s the MSG Version- Because yes, I read a version different than KJ or NKJ. I also don’t mind NIV. P.S: Another thing I was told in the religious circle was that I have to read the “right” version of the Bible. Those folks must have missed that that the point is the message & not the vocab.]

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Oh, crap.

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Humor’s always good.

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Got this one here, since it’s realistic right?!

You know what feels good?

When God exposes another area of your heart where you’ve been judgmental before!

It’s a lot of fun.

…It freakin sucks. Usually it sucks because you’ve finally gotten yourself into a position of the very “type” of person you’ve been judging. You realize, “Wow, I’m just like them. I’m actually not ANY different. Even I’m capable of the same mistakes and problems.”  (I never thought I’d try drugs in my life, fight an eating disorder, or go through many other things.)

It sucks because you wanted to be perfect, flawless, righteous. (I tend to want that anyway…) Yet here you are, fallen short, and in need of grace.

It feels good because now your heart can be purer, although you emotionally feel much worse. It feels good because you can relate instead of look down. It feels good because now you can be at least a smidgen more Christ-like.

It’s beautiful because it’s redemptive.

At first, it’s “oh, crap.” But then it’s “oh, good.”

That Redeemer though… He’s in business for the real good.

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It’s all in your head

You are you. With all your +’s and -‘s. Lots of times you forget your +’s and can only see your -‘s. You have problems and you want solutions. At times, all you can do is hope. You believe that one day if you…

…Lose those last 13 lbs, or gain that much more in muscle, you’ll be perfectly satisfied with your body.

…Change or mask that one facial feature, you’ll feel pretty darn good about your face.

…Have children, you’ll be motivated enough to quit smoking/drinking/using drugs.

…Find the perfect partner, you’ll become confident in who you are.

…Find the perfect job, you’ll never complain about your boss again.

…Travel the world, you won’t have to deal with where you are in life now.

…Preach to any & everyone, you’ll be more “aware” of your salvation. “Holiness,” even.

…Finish school, you will feel more accomplished. You’ll finally be successful.

…Are promoted in any group or organization, you’ll receive respect.

This list can go on and on. You know which ones you would add.

(What would they be anyway?)

It’s the whole “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome. It’s easy to believe that once a particular circumstance changes in your life, you’ll finally be satisfied. As if happiness lies outside yourself. As if. You can’t run away from your demons. When your outside environment changes, your inner environment is not guaranteed to change.  I don’t know how to put it prettier than that. I don’t always speak pretty, but I can at least speak the truth. 

In my little life I’ve experienced this syndrome plenty. I still find myself thinking in these terms. By doing so, I can expect to fail. Because no one and nothing can fill a void. No one can change our mentality for us, or our outlook on the situations in our lives. Having a boyfriend who likes my body, doesn’t actually change my opinion of it. Getting married one day won’t rid me of my struggles. Finishing school and getting an ideal job won’t lead me to see myself as successful. Getting older won’t make me necessarily more confident. When I was a kid I thought, “By the time I’ll be 17, I’ll be beautiful, confident, and perfect.” I couldn’t wait to be 17. You can imagine, I was a little disappointed.

Yet… I can be those things today! I can learn to see my beauty, practice confidence, and admire God’s perfection in me. I can have a healthy perspective on my struggles. I can strive to do my best with what I’ve been dealt in life. I can learn to like and accept my body. I can learn to love me.

 

If you’re seeking joy, confidence, security, peace, freedom, etc. I can only say 2 things:

  1. You’ll find it in Christ. But what does that even mean? ( Trust me, I hate unexplained Christian cliches too.) Meaning: You’ll find it in yourself, considering He lives within.
  2. You’ll find it inside your own head by changing your thoughts.

A renewed mind.

Same difference.

 

A Change In Your Wind

Life can be so weird. You cannot deny the awkward phases of transition.

When you were a baby, you had a cute little set of baby teeth. As a kid they turned to scraggly ones, crookedly growing in. After you ripened, you got yourself somewhere between 28-32 nice (or sometimes not-so-nice) adult teeth.

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Or perhaps you got these. If you had to improvise with foil, trust me, I understand.

Let’s take another example: In the wintertime, you get fluffy, beautiful, sparkly, white stuff outside. (If you live in Utah anyway!) In the summertime, you get sunshine, warm beaches, and endless fun. Between those seasons we get spring. While there is a blooming side to it, there’s also the rainy and mucky part. There are days so gloomy you don’t know what the heck to do with yourself.

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What I would call Oregon weather.

One more: You’ve been in a certain environment physically, or have been spiritually ministering in a particular way, and you were so passionately doing what you were. Then faintly you begin tapping into a new idea of where God wants you and what He could be leading you into. So, you go through a time of just persevering. Your passion for your past phase is beginning to dwindle and yet, the time to move on has not totally come. You JUST hang in there, it’s all you can do since you’re not willing to stupidly jump the gun.

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At times we don’t even have a decent awareness of the exact change in our life seasons, things just seem so confusing and even hard. My most recent example of a mental transition has been going from excitedly talking to girls about eating disorders and recovery, to trying to figure out what motivates me next in life. (I do still want to be a therapist in an ED clinic, but ED’s are not all I think about now.) Maybe you’re a few degrees more stable in your passions than I! Within a few years I can jump from living in Africa, to blogging descriptive details of my ED journey, to happily going back to college full time. However, we all go through times of change. In fact, the only thing that is a constant in life IS change! Let me simply remind both you and I, that the end will be truly worth it and there will be sun. Which I love. But, moving on…

Better-Things-Ahead

Joe.

You’re chattin’ with buddy Joe. It’s morning, gray outside, and you’d prefer a good ol’ cup o’ Joe over the read deal sitting right next to you. Joe depressingly shares the struggle he’s going through. You’re not sure if it’s still the loss of a cat he’s talking about, but all you hear is- ‘whine, complain, & “I’m a victim.”‘ 

“If HE thinks that’s hard, let ME tell him about the loss I’ve faced in my wise years.” You share your tragic grief and end with, “See Joe, I came through it! I’M not complaining. I’m making sublime lemonade from Life’s Lemons.”

One might argue that you are an encouragement, but another might say it’s pure disregard and insensitivity to Mr.Joe.

Take a child. In his curious eyes, your driveway is a really steep hill which he’s afraid to ride his bicycle (with training wheels) too fast on. For you, it’s a tiny slope where you mindlessly park your car daily. You breeze through it in 8 adult steps, or maybe 80 baby ones.

What is trauma for one, might not be for another. Joe’s tragedy might be cakewalk for you.

Cool, you’re cool. Cool! We’re all on our own journey. Even Joe Dirt was on quite the unique one. We have a choice: Will we destroy or will we listen and build up?

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Oh, HEY JOE!

Frank Honest.

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That moment.

The light is green, but the downtown streets are busy, both morning and evening. You pull forward, but the butt of your car still sticks way out and if that light dare turn red, you’ll be blocking half the intersection. You think (or say), “Crap. Hurry up cars, move!” The light up ahead of them turns green, they pull forward just enough to where you’re safe from the oncoming traffic. First thought, “Phew! at least I’M safe!” …And then you notice that the person behind you has not been as fortunate and their car is still way out in front of others. At this point you either think, “I’m glad that’s not ME,” or, “How can I pull up closer to the car in front of me to help the guy behind me?”

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Hi. My name is Frank and my last name is Honest. I think the selfish thought first. I get embarrassed and I’m reminded of my new nature- a nature that’s God’s. The most generous and selfless One. So I ask, “Dear God, please change mine.”