Boundaries are interesting things. We both hate them and love them. We need them…yet we don’t want them. A boundary can be found anywhere, in any part of life. Boundaries are those weird scanner things at the store that go BEEEEEEEP!!! really loudly if you attempt to walk out of the store with some item with an activated security device. Boundaries are the white and yellow lines on roads. Boundaries are the walls around your house. Boundaries are the clothes you wear. Boundaries are fences.
Although all of the above are legitimate boundaries in varying forms, today I specifically want to discuss fences. If you’ve been reading my blog at all, you will have noticed that all of the recent posts have to do with gardens and gardening, so talking about fences should make perfect sense:-)
Like any other boundaries, fences are only effective if they are strong enough to keep unwanted and unnecessary things out and wanted, good things in. Check out the following picture:
This particular fence was built by my father to protect our garden. It is at least 8 feet tall, and surrounds the entire area of our vegetable garden, plus many flowers and a few fruit trees (I’m making a wild guess that the area surrounded is just a little less than an acre). It is a very strong fence, embedded in cement, and reinforced with barbed wire. This fence is very effective in its purpose: keep the deer from eating all of Mom’s flowers and veggies!!
This is where it gets interesting. Visitors to my parent’s property are usually granted the wonder of seeing at least 2 or 3, and often as many as 10 or 15, deer wandering through the yard grazing on the grass. Most people gasp in wonder, point out the window and yell, “Look!! A DEER!!!” At which point, all new visitors congregate around the window and stare for several minutes at the wildlife. When they get over their initial awe, we then have to explain that although the deer are cute, they are pests, and because of them, we had to build our massive fence. We enjoy the deer…to a degree, but consider them more of an inconvenience than anything else, since everything we want to grow has to be fenced in and protected with ever increasing creativeness as the deer indiscriminately munch pretty much anything floral or green.
The fence and the deer are a simple illustration of a much greater truth: fences are absolutely necessary if you want to grow a lovely garden. Otherwise, deer will trample through your hard work, pulling out tender plants, munching a few bites, and leaving a trail of havoc wherever they go. The same is very true of the beautiful garden of our souls.
We all have “deer” that trample our souls, tear up our beauty, and leave havoc in our hearts. Unfortunately, many of us (girls especially, but this applies to guys as well!), have no idea how to protect ourselves and end up getting torn up and trampled again and again and again. This is why boundaries are so very important, even if they are sometimes inconvenient and annoying.
For us girls, this means that we must put a lot of thought and effort into guarding and protecting our hearts. When I was just entering my teens, I remember making some pretty wild decisions. One of them was that I wasn’t going to date until God brought Mr. Right into my life (for me, that meant waiting until I was almost 27 years old). Another of them was that I was going to dress modestly instead of following the fashions of my friends. Another one was that I wasn’t going to hang out with people who tried to influence me in negative habits like smoking and drinking, or pushed dating and intimate guy/girl interactions. These decisions set me apart from most of the other young people I spent time around. I had to go through several years of being lonely and “weird” before God showed me that there were a lot of other young people out there who believed in boundaries too!
There are a lot of influences out there that will tell you that boundaries are bad, or at the least unnecessary and limiting. They limit your fun, they limit your potential…they limit your life. Those are all lies. Boundaries do not limit, they protect. I do not regret any of the boundaries I set in place around my life, nor do I resent any of the boundaries my parents set in place for me. At times I was irritated by the boundaries, wanting to stretch out past them just a little…but all it took was one little nibble from a deer and I was happily back inside my fence. Well, no deer actually bit me, but there were a few times when I chose to push the limits just a little and step outside some well-placed boundaries for a few moments, and I always ended up seeing right up close exactly why those boundaries were important. Looking back now, I am so grateful for every one of those boundaries.
The heart of a woman is something truly beautiful, and it should be guarded and protected jealously. Proverbs 4:23 says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (NIV). Your heart is the center of who you are, it is what truly defines you and sets you apart from anyone else in the world. It makes sense, then, to carefully guard and protect your heart, does it not? However, like the visitors who see the deer as adorable little lawn ornaments, most of us don’t realize that those cute little “ornaments” are about to destroy the beauty of what God created us to be! It takes discernment to recognize that what may appear harmless and cute when it’s outside the garden is cruel and destructive when it gets inside.
Stop for a moment and consider this: Why would anyone choose to leave their most vulnerable and precious sanctuary open to be trampled, torn up, and devoured? It just doesn’t make any sense, does it? Why, then, do so many young women choose to open up their hearts to be beaten, trampled, torn, broken, and even devoured by the enemy of our souls?
What are some things that you need to guard your heart against, and what are the boundaries necessary to protect your precious heart?