S4 E3 | How To Communicate Your Boundaries With Jim Cress

Jim Cress:
Hey, it's Jim Cress with you again. And today, we're going to get real practical. If you need to have a conversation with someone in your life about a boundary, and not just a boundary but your boundary, remember: Boundaries are about keeping you safe. And yes, in doing that, they're also about loving the other person well. We think of agape love again; that's seeking the other person's highest good. It doesn't mean they're going to like what you have to say, but it is about keeping you safe and again loving the other person well. Well, how do you do that when you're going to get in situations [that are] probably going to be dicey at some level? The other person may want to fight; they may want to debate you or do quid pro quo. You say this; they say that. How can you say what you mean, mean what you say, and not say it mean [but] in a clear and kind, really, a godly way, without losing your own cool or muddying the waters yourself?

Let me give you something to think about here. Little children explain, and often the voice will pitch up and they want to say ... Children explain; adults inform. There's a big difference there. So how do I practice my boundaries practically at home? You know what you can do? You can sit down in an empty chair in front of you, and sit there and maybe get a three-by-five card. Put that person's name on there. Let's say the person's name is Joe or Mary. "Joe, or Mary, I have some things that I want to talk to you about here." And literally, maybe even script it out where you can say, "Here's what I want to say." Give you a little trick here. It's a little sandwich. Put the top bun on this like a little hamburger. Offer some affirmations: "I thank you that you'd be willing to meet with me and for you taking the time that you'd be willing to listen to me."
Then put the meat in of what you want to say: the boundary. And if you're able to, and the person's still there with you, the bottom piece of bread there or the bun there would be to say, "And again, I really thank you." They'd be willing to consider my boundary. They may have to go off and think about it themselves, right?

Timing is important, OK? So the idea of going to a person if they're hangry and their blood sugar level's not good or they're tired, you want to ... As the Bible says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11, ESV). So a big part of that is I say to people, "Hey, I'd like to talk to you about something that's concerning me or in my life. Is now a good time? And if not now, when?" The timing is important. I use the line — I reckon I use it every day — "Hey, I'd like to talk about this. Do you have it to give now to have this conversation?"

And I want to remind you, too, that good boundaries that we're going to have in our lives ... it's not always a pathway to reconciliation. What's it like? And we'll talk more in the series about grief; that if I try to do it all by the book, I've practiced it in an empty chair and said, "This is what I want to say to this person." Imagining what they might say back or not say back. And when I go there, and what if the person then mocks me or the person says, "Well, this is just your problem," or "La-di-da, look at you all high and mighty. You think you're going to come in with a boundary?"

How do I prepare myself there? [It would] be good to have a good friend, your own journal, someone you can trust and say, "I went to this person, and it is my truth to keep myself safe and to love them well, but they would not receive it." I always think of Jesus. He wept over Jerusalem, and He said to His peeps: Oh, Jerusalem, oh Jerusalem, how many times I would gather like a mother, like a mother hen gathers its chicks? I want us to have some reconciliation, but you would have no part of it (Matthew 23:37). I'm mindful too of Proverbs 15:1: A soft or gentle answer, it's not a weak answer: "A soft answer turns away wrath" (ESV). What's the double meaning here? As I have a soft answer toward a person, I come in grounded and in peace to talk about my own boundaries that can turn away their anger and my own anger. But it says, "A harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1,ESV).

You need to check what we call emotional self-regulation. Are you sure you're in a [good] place? Are you rested? Are you tired? Are you stressed out [or] hungry yourself? Whatever it might be. And are you in the right place? Like setting the table in a right way to be able to go in and have this conversation. I like Colossians 4:6 here: "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (NIV).

When you talk with people and answer them, when you're putting forth a boundary yourself, the issue there is not to appease them or please them because they may not like it. But you can honor ... And may I say it this way to actually please and honor yourself? And say, "I am speaking my own truth." Maybe you've had a whole life — all through childhood — where you didn't speak your truth. Now it's time to do that. Leave the outcome. The other person gets to respond or react. And you can take all your truth and what you've done in a boundary conversation and you say, God, I give all of this and this person to You.

S4 E3 | How To Communicate Your Boundaries With Jim Cress