We all have those moments.
– Your friends sit down to watch a movie and five minutes in, the lead couple is locked in a passionate kiss, rubbing thighs and ripping off each other’s clothes.
– You are out playing sports. One of the guys is getting a little warm, so off comes his shirt, revealing a well-chiseled, sweat-covered physique.
– Your friend comes back from her honeymoon and, wanting to offer some encouragement, goes on to tell you how great it was, and by ‘it’ she’s referring to sex.
– You are hanging out with friends when one of the guys decides to sit by you, not thinking anything of it he grabs your arm to get your attention and show you something.
And in those moments, you feel it. Your breath catches in your throat. You feel yourself free-falling, melting. You know where this road is heading and you really don’t want to go there. Well… you do, but you don’t. It’s hard to tell what, exactly, you want right now. As much as you might want to get up and sprint, you are trying to maintain your cool.
Meanwhile, you’re falling, and fast. You are crashing and burning, and no one has a clue.
Those moments are hard, because you want to maintain the boundaries you need without making people feel like they’ve crossed them.
Handled incorrectly, a situation can go from no-big deal to ‘really really awkward’ in just a few short minutes. There’s just no way to say, “Could you not do that please? It makes me struggle with my thoughts” without making things… awkward. The only way to avoid such situations is to sit at home and do nothing- speak to no one, with no computer, TV, cell phone.
And some of you are doing just that (well, for the most part. You’re reading this, so obviously you have something). The world ‘out there’ just makes you feel weak, vulnerable, and out-of-control. You make you feel weak, vulnerable, and out-of-control. There’s too much temptation, too much embarrassment, and so much (too much) fear.
You’re afraid. Afraid of falling. Afraid of being found out. Afraid you won’t be strong enough the next time. Afraid someone will start asking questions. Afraid of your own boundaries, because you need them, but you don’t like that you need them and, under no circumstances, do you want to try and defend them.
In fact, it might seem safer to you to just forget the boundaries altogether if it means feeling ‘normal.’
Well, take heart, there are ways to maintain your boundaries without blowing your cover and making things awkward. First though, you need to have boundaries.
1. Know What Your Boundaries Are.
Before you do anything, you need to know what your own boundaries are. If you don’t know how to determine that, think about what things seem to be gateways into temptation. They might not be obvious doorways of temptation; they could be subtle. For instance, do romance novels really mess with your heart? Maybe something as benign and Christian as Love Comes Softly will just be too much for you. That’s a boundary.
2. Know That Your Boundaries Can Change.
Your boundaries need to be firm, but over time, you might be able to take some down. I always encourage people to “Build ’em high and build ’em wide.” As you get stronger and walk in freedom something that might have tempted you months ago will no longer bother you. For instance, for years I couldn’t listen to music with headphones because it was a gateway into fantasy for me. It didn’t matter what kind of music. Now, I still limit the amount of time I am ‘plugged in’ but I go running with headphones on and it doesn’t bother me, It might be wise to set aside some time to review those boundaries every now and then.
3. Remember that Your Boundary Is Yours.
What do I mean? I mean that the whole world doesn’t need to have that boundary. For a while, I wouldn’t have a laptop computer. Is it a commandment? Nope. Does that mean that I should be offended, jealous, or frustrated by other people who do have laptop computers? No.
Your boundaries are going to be unique because your struggle is unique. They may seem odd, obscure, bizarre, or silly. Do not buy the lie that you do not need them, and do not buy the lie that they are stupid.
If you need boundaries in order to protect that growth, build them. They are a sign of wisdom and growing strength, and nothing to be afraid or ashamed of.