Do you like my new border? I figured it was about time. I'm so "functionally fixed" when it comes to certain things - so it took a while for me to decide that a border would be okay. Already, I can't wait to pick one out for Christmas, and I'll warn you right now that you can expect it the day after Halloween.....=)
So, the question on my heart right now is "How do you do with boundaries?". Several years ago, when Michael and Michele were deep into the high school ministry and they lived in their other house, it seemed that every night we visited a knock would come from the door and what-do-you-know, but there stood a high school student ready to visit. The common consensus for those high school students must have been, "The Schillings are cool, let's go visit - I'm sure they wouldn't mind". But, I minded. I was frustrated that we couldn't have a quiet evening with just their family without the intrusions. I wanted them to establish better boundaries. As it turned out, moving into a trailer off of their parents' house kind of solved that problem, but I remember it vividly and recognize the challenge that comes with establishing boundaries.
Perhaps it's not ministry. Maybe your house is the mecca for fun - where all the kids long to gather after school or on weekends. Or perhaps it is your service or time that is constantly being sought after. Work? Family? Social Calendar? School? Kids' sports schedules?
As a person who gains energy from quiet time by myself/among a select handful of equal personality people - (i.e., the definition of someone more introvert than extrovert) - I have to watch myself to make sure I'm not overextended. With the right balance, I'm "fueled up" to totally enjoy myself among other people - to have the desire to initiate and launch into other conversations, to establish relationships. With the right preparation, I long for it and really do desire to extend myself into others' lives. But, if I've been so busy running from one place to the next, my home is a disaster, and it's been a while since I've had my own "quiet time" - I'm a stress basket and all of the above behavior is done through frustration, as I'm not comfortable extending "any more". Maybe you can blame it on a relationship with my grandma (now with the Lord) - that was a bit emotionally unhealthy. But, I admit I struggle tremendously with guilt/expectations being placed on me - and not having the ability/desire to meet those.
What I've come to realize is that many of my perceptions of "expectations from others" can be misinterpreted on any given day based on my own emotional state. A request to "help out" can in one moment lead to a venting tantrum - or on another day the same request could lead to giddiness as I attribute the request to be "God moving in my life". Does that make sense? The same is true of me being home alone at times. On days that I've been "fueled", I'll be eager to grab the phone and chat away as I merrily put dishes in the dishwasher or straighten rooms. But, other times, particularly when I've sat down with my huge bin of laundry to be sorted - in the living room with a favorite tv show that had been DVR'd... if the phone rings - I'm ticked! How much sense does that make? And, because of my guilt issues, I can't just let the phone ring without answering because "what if someone needs me"? Stupid, huh? I think I need better boundaries.
Finding a balance is hard. Our family has been known to be fiercely protective of our "family times". I think the fact that our kids enjoy hanging with us to this day shows that that was a good choice. But, now that we've expanded our ministry to flow into the lives of college students, we discover a new sense of "family". Different in many ways, but lives that touch our hearts, nonetheless. Throw in precious friends that we long for involvement with, our own pursuits (i.e. Duck games together) and the kids' sports schedules and all of a sudden I'm finding my weekends until November already booked out.
So, I guess what I'm saying, is that I'm trying to figure out what is really best for not only me, but our whole family. I'm trying to determine when it really is best for everyone that I keep the computer closed and phone turned to silent, because I'll be a better person for it. Really, so far so good for the year, but I can things starting to escalate, and I guess I just had to get this off of my heart and turn it around by asking, "How do you handle boundaries?".