By Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend (Reviewed by Rachel Joyce)
This is one of the most helpful books I’ve ever read. By presenting a Biblical view of boundaries, the authors assist us in identifying our own misunderstandings about boundaries. They discuss common boundary myths and guide us to a more Biblical understanding of what boundaries are and how they are meant to help us live as God intends. “We need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what isn’t” (pg. 27). They remind us that as followers of Christ, we are responsible “to others” and “for ourselves” which necessitates our helping others with their burdens which are too heavy for them to bear, but allowing them to carry the load that is their responsibility (pg 32). We need to take responsibility for ourselves—our feelings, attitudes, and behavior—and the aspects of our lives that are the “load” God has given us.
Describing how boundaries are developed and the ways in which boundaries can be injured, Cloud and Townsend help us to identify our own boundary problems and guide us in repairing them so that we can have healthy relationships and live in the freedom and the fullness of the life that God intends for each of us.
Here are the ten laws of boundaries, principles that God has “woven” into life:
The Law of Sowing and Reaping—we reap what we “sow” and rescuing people from their irresponsible behavior only enables them to continue in it.
The Law of Responsibility—we are called to love others; to help them in their need, but not to enable them to sin.
The Law of Power—we have the power to confess the truth, to submit our inability to God, to repent, to humble ourselves and seek help from God and others for our developmental injuries, to seek out those we’ve injured and make amends.
The Law of Respect—we respect and love others’ boundaries and give others freedom to make their own choices.
The Law of Motivation—freedom first, service second, which means we don’t serve out of fear of others, we let God work on our fears and resolve them so we can serve out of the freedom God has given us.
The Law of Evaluation—we evaluate the effects of setting boundaries and empathize with others; we evaluate the pain caused by boundaries and confrontation, but choose what is best even when it may be painful.
The Law of Proactivity—for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; we may go through reaction phases, but we do not stay there. “Proactive people do not demand rights, they live them…[they] are able to ‘love others as themselves.’ They have mutual respect”(pg. 98)
The Law of Envy—our envy should be a sign to us that we are lacking something and should drive us to God for Him to help us to either meet that need or give up the desire.
The Law of Activity—passivity does not help us live the life God wants. He calls us to try, to knock, to ask, and to seek.
The Law of Exposure—our boundaries need to be visible to others and communicated in relationship. Unexpressed boundaries hurt relationships.
Favorite line: “Healing always takes place in the light…real relationship means that I am in the light with my boundaries” (pg 104). I love that God brings healing to our brokenness when we come into the light. It means there is always hope. No matter how hard we struggle or how we have failed, we can always find healing when we bring it all out into the light of God’s glorious presence. He is our healer and He is our God. He will help us to establish right boundaries and enable us to live in His freedom.