Clearly I’m in denial that I have good boundaries with my children. This was brought to light the other day when I felt near the brink of a panic attack. I couldn’t figure it out. What was going on? Why was I feeling SO horrible?
I even texted my husband—“Please pray for me. I’m feeling anxious and panicky.”
My brain had been feeling glitchy and was having trouble focusing, my body was suffering with inflammation, and my adrenals had been maxed out for weeks. I was living in a state of perpetual fight or flight survival mode. But fight or flight mode was only designed by God to be a temporary survival mechanism to help in times of danger.
I wasn’t actually meant to live in this place for a month and a half straight. I wasn’t in any physical danger.
I started out the summer with high hopes. I’m SUCH a visionary at heart—but the day-to-day implementation is my greatest challenge. My high hopes included planning fun activities for my four children—while also setting healthy limits for them, as well as teaching them how to incorporate a healthy balance of work, rest, and play into their lives.
I had only recently experienced the epiphany that OVERACTIVITY was my family’s drug of choice. My children were addicted to it. I had learned it in my own family system growing up and had taught it to my kids. I realized that I had fostered their addiction by the pace of life that I set early on in their childhoods.
My SUMMER MISSION was now to detox our family from this addiction and teach them a healthier life equilibrium.
But there was only one problem: I was JUST now learning and implementing these things in my own life. Yet I knew this was God’s heart for my family: Teach it as you learn it. It doesn’t matter if you just learned it yesterday—teach it today. Teach it messy. Teach it not perfectly.
I had also planned during summertime to set aside some consistent time for my writing and study—not just for my own pursuit of growth, but also to make sure I retained some SANITY. I knew myself. I knew that I needed LOTS of alone time to regroup from constantly being around kids.
That was the plan anyway.
So my summer boundaries started out optimistically, but basically just ended up sucking. I let the constant need of the moment set my pace. I communicated some boundaries, but my kids continually beat me back into submission to their desires. I gave in. I felt bad. I didn’t want to shortchange them. So I scheduled more activity. More play. I let the other important variables of rest (regrouping time) and of work (chores) fall through the cracks. My ME time disappeared.
I spiraled down until the day that I hit that panic attack threshold. I felt overwhelmed and unequipped to deal with the rest of the demands of the day. I still had more errands to run, lawn work to finish so the HOA didn’t fine us, kids to feed, and carpool to drive.
But God intervened and threw me a life preserver.
In the middle of my panicked state, I received two separate text lifelines from friends. Neither friend was local, but both felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to reach out. Neither one knew I was close to reaching for a Xanax. But God did.
I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit—aka my rescue line.
Both texts included links to articles about boundaries. One article highlighted the importance of teaching our children healthy boundaries. The other focused on how to effectively deal with any anger pushback that comes from those who fight our boundaries.
Man did the Holy Spirit READ my mail.
And by that second text, God’s gentle voice finally hacked my chaotic firewall. I heard God’s caring message within the text lines of the articles: “SLOW DOWN. ENFORCE better boundaries. Get STRATEGIC with how to respond to the anger push-back. Quit killing yourself because you don’t want to disappoint.”
And then I remembered something else: God had given me a head’s up warning dream before the start of summer, where a wise counsellor told me to slow down and stay safe within boundaries.
In all of the summer’s chaos, I had forgotten that God actually WANTED me safe and protected. He was advocating for a healthier pace in my own life and family. He was on my side and was cheering for my boundaries and freedom. And even when I forgot His precautionary warning, He sent me another reminder.
Because He’s just THAT good.
It’s tough work moving from compliance to healthier boundaries, but I know that I can do it with God’s help.
Contending for More Freedom with God on My Side,
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).