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Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life Hardcover – October 20, 1992
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In order to call themselves good Christians, many people have drawn overly flexible boundaries (unwilling to say no, always accommodating others' needs) or overly rigid boundaries (to the point of being righteous and judgmental). Psychologists and inspirational speakers Cloud and Townsend show readers how to set reasonable boundaries in order to follow the true path of Christianity. This book has become immensely popular, most likely because it makes personal boundaries easier to define and is filled with spiritual purpose. Some cautions: the format can be overly self-helpish for such a complex discussion and the authors at one point imply that judicious spankings may be an acceptable form of setting boundaries with children. However, many Christians will probably find themselves grateful for this biblical context of boundaries. --Gail Hudson
'Boundaries define everything from football fields to nation-states, yet our culture has pretended it could violate boundaries in human relationships without serious consequences. Cloud and Townsend examine the damage caused by this flawed view and point the way back.' -- Cal Thomas, Author
'Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend have great insights and practical wisdom into the God-given gift of boundaries. As they discuss how to take responsibility for and ownership of our lives, they give hope that we cannot just survive -- but thrive!' -- Josh McDowell, Author
'This book is going to provide a doorway of understanding and freedom for those of us who have allowed ourselves to be buried in the inability to say no. Thank you once again, Henry and John, for helping us toward freedom.' -- Rich Buhler, Author
'In this insightful and extremely helpful book, you will learn about a simple concept that can change your life: healthy boundaries. It's the ability to mark off your life in such a way that you multiply your love for others and minimize the problems you face. And it's waiting for you when you open this book I highly recommend.' -- John Trent, PhD, President
'I've heard a myriad of sermons on Christian servanthood that never discussed the value of saying 'NO!' in order to confront in love or to provide space to recharge the batteries. 'Boundaries' is the 'Untold Story' -- the other side of love and servanthood that we need so desperately but that we hear so little about.' -- Howard G. Hendricks, Chairman
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The other issue is one of an abusive marriage. He talks about putting up boundaries and leaving for the night if these boundaries are violated. This is always done for a short period of time and then the abused spouse returns home. There are situations where this is effective. But in a true abusive situation (physical or mental) it is playing with fire to leave and return over and over. The physical abuser can be deadly. A mental abuser will learn how to better manipulate her victim without his realizing that his boundaries have been violated and thereby twisting reality even further. Any abusive person is not to be trifled with, and without genuine repentance and clear signs of change one is foolish to continue to expose themselves to that risk regardless of history, children, or feelings. For all of his insight, I am shocked that this is not made more clear.
Cloud and Townsend do a great job of using boundaries to illustrate why we grew up certain ways. For example, you probably know someone who has a money problem. He spends recklessly and doesn't really think about the consequences of his actions. This can be traced back to his parents never establishing their own boundaries. They would always bail the son out whenever he ran out of money and tell him to be better next time. They never let him "feel" the consequences. And so he never learned.
There's so many other brilliant examples of the importance of boundaries and how they affect the people around us.
I learned a lot about myself through the sections that detail boundaries with friends, family, and work. The one that impacted me the most was the section on Boundaries with Myself. I grew up with parents who while loving, also created situations for me where I was not able to feel the consequences, and so I behave in certain ways that I'm trying to fix.
When I was first referred to this book, I wasn't told this book had a heavy religious undertone (the conflict of setting boundaries and being a good person in the eye of God). I'm not religious, so the biblical references didn't really matter to me much, but that doesn't mean I can't learn from them. The concepts themselves made sense to me and I would recommend this book to anyone who believes they have boundary problems.