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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thoughts on the book, "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

I started reading the book, “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. The book makes me very uncomfortable.  I keep thinking they must be taking liberties, or that they are coming from a lopsided overly individualistic Western worldview.  In reality, I think the main problem is that I have problems with boundaries in my life.  I think I sometimes have a hard time distinguishing the difference between the sacrificial love/servant heart to which Jesus calls us and giving out of what I don’t have (and it ends in disaster—depletes, crushes, and depresses me, while it angers, disappoints, and enables others). 

“Made in the image of God, we were created to take responsibility for certain tasks.  Part of taking responsibility, or ownership, is know what is our job, and what isn’t.  Workers who continually take on duties that aren’t theirs will eventually burn out.  It takes wisdom to know what we should be doing and what we shouldn’t.  We can’t do everything. “ p.27

An area where the book addresses this is by distinguishing between “burdens” and “loads”:

“We are responsible to others and for ourselves. ‘Carry each other’s burdens,” says Galatians 6:2, “and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This verse shows our responsibility to one another.  Many times we others have “burdens” that are too big too bear.  They do not have enough strength, resources, or knowledge to carry the load, and they need help.  Denying ourselves to do for others what they cannot do for themselves is showing the sacrificial love of Christ.  This is what Christ did for us. He did what we could not do for ourselves; he saved us.  This is being responsible ‘to’.

On the other hand, verse 5 says that ‘each one should carry his own load.’ Everyone has responsibilities that only he or she can carry.  These things are our own particular ‘load; that we need to take daily responsibility for and work out.  No one can do certain things for us.  We have to take ownership of certain aspects of life that are our own ‘load’.

The Greek words for burden and load give us insight into the meaning of these texts.  The Greek word for burden means ‘excess burdens,’ or burdens that are so heavy that they weigh us down.  These burdens are like boulders.  They can crush us.  We shouldn’t be expected to carry a boulder by ourselves!  It would break our backs. We need help with the boulders—those times of crisis and tragedy in our lives.

In contrast, the Greek word for load means ‘cargo’ or ‘the burden of daily toil.’  This word describes the everyday things we all need to do.  Those loads are like knapsacks.  Knapsacks are possible to carry.  We are expected to carry our own.  We are expected to deal with our own feelings, attitudes, and behaviors, as well as the responsibilities God has given to each one of us, even though it takes effort. 

Problems arise when people act as if their ‘boulders’ are daily loads, and refuse help, or as if their ‘daily loads’ are boulders they shouldn’t have to carry.  The results of these two instances are either perpetual pain or irresponsibility.

Lets we stay in pain or become irresponsible, it is very important to determine what ‘me’ is, where my boundary of responsibility is and where someone else’s begins. “ p.32-33.

1 comment:

Shannon Burford said...

Great article. I appreciate the examples at the end too.

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