My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life, keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife.
Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? (Proverbs 6:20-28)
They’re constraining. They give us a line we can’t cross. They cut against the grain of our culture that says the best life is one in which we can say whatever we want. Have sex with whomever we want. Cheat whomever we want. Essentially, do whatever we want. As long as it makes us happy.
Basically, we feel like boundaries limit our freedom. And freedom is everything.
It seems to make sense. And on the face of it, it is kind of true: boundaries constrict us. But this viewpoint also ignores an ironic, but essential truth:
Fences bring freedom.
This is obvious enough in real life. A few years back we put a fence in our backyard for Elijah and Graham. The purpose wasn’t to keep them in. It was actually to keep what could harm them out. Did the fence set a boundary they couldn’t go past? Yes. But it also gave them the freedom to play in the yard and enjoy what was theirs.
In the same way, boundaries give us the ability to enjoy the blessings of God in our lives. A lot of times we think that God puts fences up in our lives and puts things off limits in order to keep us captive. He just wants to limit our happiness. But in effect, He is giving us the ability to enjoy what He has given us. He is actually trying to put us in a position where we can be happy.
For example, the reason God doesn’t want us to have sex before marriage isn’t because He doesn’t want us to experience pleasure. It’s because He wants us to experience the unique pleasure of completely giving ourselves over to another person in purity. I think the reason we have a problem with boundaries is that our operating mindset is “how far can I go?” rather than “how free can I be?” The first mindset has its eyes on getting as close to the border of God’s blessings as possible. The second mindset has its eyes on actually enjoying them.
We claim we want freedom, but we don’t. Freedom isn’t having the ability to do anything you want. Freedom is being able to enjoy what you have.
God has already given us everything we need to be happy in this life. We’ve got a bigger yard than anyone else in the world. The fences are just there to make sure we have something to enjoy.
Boundaries are a blessing, because what we value, we protect.
So stop focusing on and resenting the fences that God has put around you.
And start doing what they’re there to enable you to do:
Play in the yard.