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  • Julia Elliott

Freedom in limits

Updated: Jan 14

Boundaries.

I feel like our culture has a misconception about what boundaries are and just how important they are to a healthy lifestyle. I myself am on a journey of what boundaries mean and look like in my life.

Have you ever had a friendship that seemed like it was taking a lot from you, and it wasn’t giving a lot back. And maybe you felt like there wasn’t another way of doing it. I’ve been there. In a way, I’m there right now. But what I’m finding, through reading and just talking to God, is that I am not expected to give 100% of myself to 100% of the people in my life. Jesus didn’t do that. He had close friends. And he had the outer crowds and the other people that came to him.


And it wasn’t that He wasn’t willing to share Himself. It was that He knew and He understood what was worth investing and when. He didn’t pour Himself into people that weren’t actually paying attention. He gave himself to them in the ways that He could. And beyond that He left them in the hands of His Father.


We aren’t Jesus. We don’t know as well as he did, as He DOES, how much to invest. So really that’s something to pray about. How much am I supposed to investing in this relationship, in this situation? How vulnerable is God asking me to be? Because the answer might actually surprise you!


You have spheres of influence, spheres of intimacy. Sometimes, people shift in and out of these spheres, so it’s hard to tell where the lines are and what’s going on in a friendship. I’ve had that happen. I had things change and shift when I got married. Many times people aren’t aware of that need for change, and they don’t honor it.


Take a step back and look at your spheres and your boundaries. I personally have found that wrong delegation of  my spheres and my calling to different parts of my life creates panic inside of me.

It wasn’t until I was reading a book by Danny Silk called Keep Your Love On, and was confronted with his perspective on boundaries and spheres of intimacy, that I began to sort out some heart issues. What a relief that was! I was fighting a lot of fear that I would never work through the chaos inside. If you can’t name your enemy, you won’t know what to pray for and how to fight, how to talk to yourself and how to share the issue with the support systems in your life.


Somewhere in my childhood, I took away from myself permission to feel. It wasn’t something other people did to me. It was because of things other people did to me, but they did not take the freedom away from me. I took it away from myself and spoke lies over my life. I didn’t allow myself to feel. In the past year, I experienced breakthrough of honoring my emotions and acknowledging them and their importance, acknowledging God’s beautiful design in emotions and feeling.


Somewhere in the midst of that, I came to the conclusion that feeling and sharing what was going on inside of me meant that 100% of the people in my life deserved access to 100% of my heart. And that’s just not true.


My God, Yahweh, is my innermost sphere of intimacy. After my Lord, my husband has his own circle. After my husband, there is a group of people who have been through all sorts of things with me. I complete faith and trust in them. I know they will stick around in my life. And it builds from there. Beyond these close spheres are my greater church family, my social media family, all the different versions of family in my life that are important to me but don’t necessarily stand with me in the day to day as they do for other people. And I’m cool with that. Not everybody is my best friend. And I’m not everybody’s best friend. That’s how it was designed.


What I have realized is that I’ve been giving people in my outer spheres God-sphere level access to my heart at times. The flip side of this is that I had expectations on people that if I’m allowing them access to these spheres then they should be allowing me access to their inner spheres. That’s just needy and greedy and selfish. I don’t have ANY right to demand that of people. Yet if it is given to me, I will honor that and bless that.


If you are opening yourself up in ways that are not healthy, and to be real, outside your permission on both sides, you are going to have panic. I heard I quote awhile back: “Intimacy without trust creates anxiety.” I have been experiencing a lot of anxiety in some of my relationships because I was offering them intimacy beyond what they are able to return in my life. And I have had expectations on what they should give in my life.


Just because they are not in my closest friends-sphere, and same with my close friends and their exclusion from my two inner spheres, does not mean I’m not giving myself to these people. It does mean that I should not expect, when I give beyond what level of intimacy has already been established, that there MUST be an equal return. That is a gift from me, free of expectation. We CAN give gifts to people to say, ‘hey, I just want you to know that there is more to me, and if you want, you can come into an inner sphere’.


I think that Jesus does that with us. I think He offers inner spheres. And some people just flat out say ‘no’. And He says ‘okay, if this is what you want, I’m not going to fight you on that’. But when He does offer that inner sphere, we have the chance to say ‘yes, I choose to be trustworthy. And I choose to do what I need to do to be trustworthy’.


When you offer gifts of your inner spheres to people, it can be a one-time thing. It could be that nothing will change. That’s okay. Honor the place that person DOES have in your life. But sometimes people are at a place where they say, ‘oh, I didn’t realize that we could have more. I want to partner with you in that.’ We have to agree to partner with each other to build that trust and intimacy. I don’t know that it’s super healthy to have people in your inner sphere when you are in their outer sphere. Yes, there can be differences in how we view the relationship. But if it’s that extreme, I don’t know how much real trust can be built.


It’s a fact that you have more access to someone’s time, energy, and investment when you are in their inner sphere. We can only handle so many people in our spheres. And when we aren’t in the sphere we wish for in someone else’s life, we must honor the place we DO have. You don’t know how many people are in their inner sphere, or really, what kind of support they need in this season.


I think sometimes we ask for a place in an inner circle because we want to satisfy selfish whim. We want to feel needed or feel good or honored. That’s not why God put us in each other’s lives. Here’s the thing, we are meant to meet each other’s needs! That is a beautiful thing. When we focus a relationship around the needs and not the PERSON behind the needs, that’s an endless cycle of taking and burnout. #CRAZYCYCLE When you are valuing and honoring people, you meets people’s needs out of the love and honor. And there are levels of honoring and valuing. It’s okay that you have certain people in your life that you want to give more of your time to.


I encourage you to be intentional and reach out! We’re all human. Sometimes we think that silence means disinterest. Typically, that’s not true. Most of the time, we are silent because we want to be pursued. I encourage you guys to BE the pursuer. Pursue the people in your spheres! Pursue them to the level of intimacy they have been given and allowed in your heart! I am learning pursuit. I am learning to engage and connect. And now I’m learning to acknowledge and honor that certain people have access to more of my heart than other people. I’m okay with that. It is a beautiful thing. We are designed in layers. And it’s okay for us to have friendships in layers. I’ll even venture to say that it is GOOD.


When it comes to boundaries, I encourage you to step back and map out who is in your spheres of intimacy. Think about where and with whom you are spending your time. Be intentional about investing in those with whom you are able to dig deep. That’s where the bulk of your community needs will be met. I find I am most filled and enjoy life most when I am enjoying God, honoring Him in who He designed me to be, and along side those, when I am honoring those closest to me. When I honor Him with my time and invest in the hearts that He has given me to build into and support, I find they are a balm to my being when I am struggling with something.


Boundaries are so important. When you don’t know where your boundaries are, you don’t know where you need to be. And you don’t know how to be fully you! This is the lesson I am learning. I’m learning what it looks like to honor God and honor myself. That is what it comes down to with boundaries. If you don’t have healthy boundaries you are not honoring God and you are not honoring yourself.


Like I said, this all came from reading Danny Silk’s book. I highly encourage you guys to go out and buy it! It is a different perspective on what love is in any relationship. It talks of honor and communication. It’s changing my perspective and experiences.


I will end this by saying, each one that reads this is in a sphere in my life. It may not be the same as the person next to you or whoever else is reading this. But you are in my life, and I will fulfill the call to love you in the way you and God have given me permission.

This post is brought to you by the Weekly Song!

This week’s song is Boundary Lines by Chris Tomlin


It is a beautiful tribute to Psalm 16! And a lovely picture of honoring the limits God has placed in your life.




#Boundaries #LetsBeReal

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