If we don’t have personal boundaries, we’ll inevitably build walls.
I’m a late-bloomer, not an expert, in these areas; I offer these “thought wrestlings” and ask for your thoughts, too.
Immunity is a brilliant system of organs and responses designed to protect us from harmful intruders that could make us sick. Our skin is the largest organ of our bodies; it gives us integrity because it keeps who we are in and who we aren’t out.
Skin is a boundary; boundaries provide integrity. Integrity is immunity.
Knowing who we are and who we aren’t equips us to make choices in tune with our convictions, make decisions based on our values and priorities, and speak confidently with a voice that is distinctly our own.
Without integrity, we’re at risk of moving through life making decisions based on emotions, moods, or popular appeal. Without integrity, we’ll eventually speak blame, shame, ridicule, or words that manipulate others.
When we compromise our integrity, we compromise our immunity.
Without immunity, we get sick.
Without trustworthy convictions, values and priorities, lies and opinions shape our identity and begin to cause a long list of illnesses –
- depression, and
- entitlement are some of the most frequently diagnosed.
Even with a healthy personal immune system, we’re going to occasionally get sick or hurt. Our illness or injury will either be the result of our own weakness and immaturity, or the result of someone else sharing their germs (anxiety, bitterness, anger, fear, betrayal…)
Here’s where the difference between boundaries (integrity) and walls can be vital.
Our physical bodies are complex; when the first round of defense is injured, another level of defense kicks in to heal us. For example, when we cut ourselves with a kitchen knife, our skin is injured but our white blood cells rush to the scene to prevent infection.
When our emotional and spiritual integrity is intact and mature, protection and healing work in much the same way.
When we get hurt – by angry words, betrayal, death, unmet expectations…our hearts get injured. We don’t have emotional or spiritual white blood cells, but we can have relationships of grace. We can also have access to the Holy Spirit.
Unless we’ve chosen walls instead of boundaries.
Relationships – with safe and trusted others, and God Himself – act just like white blood cells. Our most mature friends and family stand guard to protect us from the lies attracted by our compromised immune systems, like the germs attracted to a cut.
Grace is a supernatural antibiotic.
At one time or another, we’ll all require protection from a variety of lies, including:
- “It doesn’t matter.”
- “I can fix this.” or “I can fix you.”
- “I deserved it.”
- “I’ll never be enough.”
- “I hate him.” or “I hate her.”
- “It doesn’t hurt.” or “I’m ok.”
- “I don’t need anyone.” or “I don’t trust anyone.”
Without integrity (boundaries) – that is without knowing who I really am – the pain and the wound will attract the worst of these lies. And the worst will make a home in me.
When I decide to battle the disease or pain on my own, I decide to lose. Only God and others can give me grace.
Only trusted friends can:
- remind me who God really is,
- remind me who I really am,
- swat at the lie-infested flies that are drawn to my bleeding heart, and
- hold my hand while I quietly marinate in the only anti-venom that can save the real me.
If I don’t trust it, the disfigurement is only a matter of time.
Bitterness will wither me on the inside and create scar-tissue on the outside; the wall building begins. Masks are our first walls; we’re just looking for a place to hide. (trueface.org)
Anger is the equivalent of storing gun powder in the hole in my heart; I’ll know it’s there when a little spark causes a big explosion. I’ll notice others start walking on egg shells, or keeping their distance.
Depression is a sneaky lie; it waits in the deep end of the pool of disappointment. It calls me to come deeper and dwell in the hurt; it warns me to ignore the voice of the LifeGuard who is keeping me company in the real pain, and who will offer to help me climb out when I’m ready.
Grace changes everything. It calls dead things to life and brings beauty from ashes. Grace changes mourning into dancing; keep trusting for the long haul- this marinating sometimes takes a while.
The greater the healing, the more excited we are to share The Cure. (trueface.org) We now live to build relationships of trust for the very reason that others won’t receive grace, except from a trusted source.
And our immune systems get stronger, too – because these same trusted friends are our mirrors. They’re the ones who regularly affirm us and who ask permission to share truth with us when we’re not acting like our real selves.
I learn who I really am in these relationships of trust – and in these environments of grace. My identity gets clearer; I find my boundaries.
Integrity is immunity; I relax and mature, trusting The Cure.
Please share your thoughts, too. I learn so much from your comments and questions. Happy Thanksgiving friends. May Grace abound around your table.
John 15 Academy will provide grace-based education; we’re already educating students and supporting them as they build these relationships of trust and mature in their experiences of loving and being loved. Contact us if you want to learn more or join us in our adventure.