The Larger Lessons of Boundaries

In last week’s Worth a Life weekly resources, I included a podcast about the concept of “deep work.” This idea of deep work says that we are more productive, more engaged, more creative when we are able to do work with no interruptions. Every time the email pings, our phone vibrates for a text, etc., we lose that deep work. Every time we think, “I’m just going to google that really quick” or “I’m just going to reply to this message really quick” we lose the benefits of  deep work.

Deep work is what allows you to see the vision. It can enable you to soar above your situation and catch a thirty thousand foot view of what needs to happen, where the organization needs to go, how to really create change. It may allow you to dive deep into the specifics, think about the steps that need to be taken. Whatever deep work looks like for you in this season, it is what allows you to do the work that really matters.

Many years ago I stumbled on a book that continues to shape and challenge me, “Running on Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers” by Fil Anderson. He says that so many of us are afraid to slow down, afraid to not be available to everyone, afraid to say “no” to people. We are afraid that the work will get done by someone else and they will do it better. We are afraid that if we are not always available, always present, no one will really miss us being gone. We are afraid that if we are not always “on,” we will learn that the world can go on without us, which leads us to believe that we do not really matter and others will learn it to. So, we go on proving our worth with every “yes,” every boundary plowed down, every over worked and worn out hour.

I believe it is this struggle that keeps many of us from doing deep work. In order to do deep work we have to set very intentional boundaries that so many are uncomfortable setting. Many who live out of a place of calling and passion have a strong personality trait that allows us to see injustice, see anger, see the hard or horrible things of the world, see when people are disappointed. It is the things we are able to see that move us to do something. If we are not careful though, it can also lead us to burn out as we try to take care of everyone and everything. We tend to carry the weight of the world, of our organizations, or our people, on our shoulders. If we never set that burden down, we are never able to really move forward.

It also is an important lesson for others when we hold to boundaries. We teach others that they can do hard things themselves. They are self-sufficient. We teach others that it is Ok to rest, to say no. We teach others how to have boundaries in their own lives. I find that the same people who want to walk all over your boundaries are the same people who are desperately crying out, “Please teach me how to say no. Please show me that I am more than the sum of everyone else’s opinion. Please show me that I am enough.”

You are enough. You are created for a purpose in this world and until you say no to the things that keeping you from deep work, holding you in one place, you will never move forward. You will never be able to say yes to the things that really matter.

“God will never love you any more or less because of anything you manage, or fail, to achieve…..In his kindness and mercy, God has shown me that I am here to play, to dream and to drift as much as to do the hard work I’ve been given. I believe God recognizes there’s holiness to my play that’s as sacred and real as the holiness of my prayer. I believe God knows that without playing there will eventually be no praying. God knows the constant noise, endless activity, and dreadfully hurried pace that permeate our culture will misdirect your life and mine…” Fil Anderson

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