Saturday, October 27, 2018

A Time to Build

A Time to Build

In the Everyday Journal group I belong to we are exploring the season we are in. I am using the contrasts in Ecclesiastes 3 metaphorically as way to examine my heart and mind in the season of life I am in. Today we come to the second contrast in verse 3.

"To everything there is a season....A time to tear down and a time to build up." Ecclesiastes 3:3
What comes to mind when I see tear down and build up is boundaries. Personal boundaries are the defenses we create - consciously or subconsciously - to protect ourselves emotionally. Like fences put up around a property to protect one physically, we build walls around the things or people that have hurt us in the past. Many times these boundaries are built when we are children, long before we have the capability to examine people and situations intellectually and then determine a course of action. As a result, in adulthood these boundaries are often unnoticed and happen automatically in response to a situation or a particular person. Our boundaries are often triggered, not something we do as a conscious action or choice.

As we mature, and often with the help of other people in our lives, we become aware of these automatic response boundaries and begin the work of determining which are healthy and which are unhealthy. It is often in marriage or other very close relationships that these boundaries are revealed. I grew up in a home with one parent who was an alcoholic and the other who was emotionally insecure. As a result of the dysfunction in my family I learned to put up boundaries at a very young age. In my adult years, at various seasons and stages of my life, I have learned to recognize the boundaries I built as a child, and some I added as an adult, and began the journey - the lifelong journey - of tearing down the unhealthy ones and building up or producing healthy ones. 

Not all boundaries are unhealthy. For example, when my dad was still alive I felt it necessary to protect my young daughter from unhealthy behavior. So, I got up the nerve to tell my dad that if he drank too much when we were with him, then we would leave or ask him to leave if we were at my house. To me, it was a healthy decision to not allow my daughter to be exposed to the emotional roller coaster that went along with overindulgence in alcohol. Often I find I must limit my time with and exposure to people who drain me too much. Often these are people who themselves have unhealthy boundaries, unable to see where they end and another person begins, often becoming overly dependent on other people resulting in unhealthy relationships. Knowing myself and knowing the activities and people that energize or drain me, enables me to build healthy boundaries.

For reflection:

What boundaries have been built in your life? Defensiveness is often an indicator.
Ask God to reveal which of these walls you have built are unhealthy.
Which ones might God be prompting you to tear down? To trust in Him instead of self-protection?
How might your risk taking those walls down?
Or where might you need to build some healthy boundaries? Healthy relational or time boundaries?

"When life hurts us, it’s easy to put walls, rationalizing that God allows them so we can protect ourselves. But self-protection is not the same as God-protection. Self-protection keeps the emphasis on us—on self. The walls we build after we are hurt are not always God’s spiritual protection for our hearts." 
~Esther Fleece, No More Faking Fine, Zondervan Pubplishing
My month has been much busier than I had anticipated and I was not able to do as much with this project as I had planned. So my next post will simply be reflection questions to go with the rest of the contrasts in Ecclesiastes 3.

For November our Everyday Journal group will be practicing gratitude with a guide from Bernice Hopper.

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Bernice Hopper, Valerie Sjodin and I are using one journal to record events, experiences and relationships and  to explore our word’s meaning in visual and fun ways. We are each blogging about our experiences and our art. If you would like to connect with others about creatively organizing your word, your ideas, thoughts, prayers, events, or your projects all in one journal, you are invited to join our Facebook group: Everyday Journals – Living Your Word of the Year.

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