Setting Boundaries: Allowing Freedom to Grow in our Hearts

At this time of year, we often pause to reflect on the past and speculate on the future. I was doing just that recently as I was pondering the theme for my entire Boomer Babes Rock outreach, a ministry that includes books, speaking, a web site, blog, and this CWO monthly column. I was thinking and praying about the coming year and in doing so I kept being drawn to the theme of Freedom.

I reviewed my past CWO columns and I found this paragraph that I’d written for the April 2007 CWO column:

“At a time in life when we [boomer babes] should be experiencing the empty nest, rediscovering our spouse, taking new adventures, and pursuing the dreams of our heart—many of us find ourselves in painful bondage to dysfunctional adult children whose choices include drugs, alcohol, gambling, crime, financial ruin, and a host of other negative circumstances too heinous to mention.”

Right then I decided that 2008 should be a year of freedom from bondage and freedom to be all God intends us to be.

Maybe you don’t have dysfunctional adult children, yet, you still find yourself being bound to something, or someone, that controls you. Maybe it’s negative self-talk, financial problems, or discouragement that you will never reach your dreams.

As CWO sisters-in-Christ, freedom means first and foremost what Jesus Christ did for us when he went to the cross. When we confessed our sin, asking Jesus to live in our heart, we experienced the greatest freedom of all—the freedom of forgiveness. The freedom that comes from the unconditional love the Lord bestows upon us.

Yet I know that for many of us that ultimate freedom is often overshadowed by worldly things that keep us in bondage. We all have our crosses to bear. For me, that particular cross is often the pain and heartache I experience as a mother. Many of you know from reading my past CWO columns or my Saturday postings on the Boomer Babes Rock Blog, that I have an adult child who is an addict—an adult child I enabled for years. My son is currently in jail in Minnesota awaiting trial. He could be sent to a state penitentiary for a very long time.

Over the years I have had to learn the difficult lessons of defining my boundaries as they relate to my son. It’s been a long, difficult and painful journey. Yet I’ve managed to find freedom. I share that journey in my newest book releasing in February from Harvest House Publishers. Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children – Six Steps to Hope and Healing is the cry of a mother’s heart.

I believe freedom starts in our heart. First, we must believe there is hope for freedom. The Bible says, “…Christ in us, the hope of glory.” Yet, so often we forget that we have that hope and we listen to everything except our hearts.

Here’s an example I once heard: Think about freedom and all it takes as God being placed in the center of a box. When we choose freedom, we enter this box to be close to God. Then to fully grasp freedom, we must walk toward the center—closer to God. The problem is that most people are afraid, or more willing, to stand as close as possible to the sides of the box. There pressed against the sides, we can hear the outside voices – doubt, discouragement, negative thinking, etc. If instead, we would take just a few steps forward toward the center of the box—toward God—we would hear the voice of encouragement, positive direction, focus, and FREEDOM!

For enabling parents like me, it’s focusing everything on the needs of our dysfunctional adult children—getting caught up in their crisis lifestyle, bad habits, etc. For others, it’s staying with a job they hate. Or for some, it’s an addiction to something. The key to true freedom isn’t so much focusing on the problem but on the solution—and that starts with trusting in God enough to let him do what he does best—bringing hope and healing—doing miraculous things. The key to freedom is walking closer to the center of the box where God is standing.

You might be thinking, “Allison, it’s just not that easy. I’ve tried to break free from XXX for years and it just doesn’t work. I’m still in the middle of a mess.”

I know what you mean. I know what that’s like. I still want to rush to my son’s side and bail him out of the trouble he’s in. He’s 36-years-old yet I still want to protect him. But who am I to play God? Could it be that God, in his infinite wisdom, has a far grander plan in store for my son’s life as a result of this journey he is now walking? I pray often for freedom from self blame and condemnation, guilt, anguish and heartache. I struggle against clinging to the sides of the box.

I want to accept the challenge for total freedom in 2008. It’s actually something that I do daily as I face the reality that it may be years before I see my son as a free man. I struggled with wanting to move toward the sides of box during the holidays thinking if only I had done this or that, or such and such. However, I truly believe that my son being in jail is just where God wants him for now. I’ve found freedom because I believe God will do a work through him and through this situation. I must move closer toward the center of the box where God is standing, and not remain glued to the sides where the pain from the past keeps me prisoner.

I want to challenge my CWO readers to make 2008 a year of freedom from past mistakes, past choices, past drama. I want us to make 2008 a year of Setting Boundaries not only with Adult Children but also for all areas of our lives.

Are you ready for freedom in your life? Will you take this journey with me? Then stick around. Together we’ll walk toward the center of that box—toward encouragement, positive direction, and love—toward God in all of His glory. During the next 12 months, I’ll be sharing with you how together we can learn to set those boundaries that allow freedom to grow in our hearts.

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