The Need for Boundaries: Climbing out of Obligation

For whatever reason, saying “No” did not come easily to me.  (If you know me, you know I’m getting much better at it though).  I value being helpful, being available, being charitable, being Christian, being unselfish and when I say “no,” even if I have a very legitimate situation that prevents me from helping, I find myself battling the impulse to label my actions as contrary to all of those ideals.   Also, I am very fortunate to find myself in a family and religious community where people regularly and diligently sacrifice to help each other.   I know that joy, connection and blessings can come from forgetting oneself for a time.  The trouble is, I’d forgotten myself so much that I’d almost disappeared and when I did re-appear there wasn’t much that was recognizable.

I realized that ultimately I am the person assigned to look out for me.  (I have to remind myself of this all the time).  As compassionate, friendly and kind as my circle of family and friends is, none of them have the insight and information necessary to determine when I am reaching a limit.  As understanding folks, they would not routinely ask me to stretch myself uber-thin so apparently there was some communication that needed to occur and the limit call, that was mine alone to make.

My other struggle was faith.  I know that the Savior responds readily to my pleas for help but He was not stepping in the way I thought He would.  I began to believe He also expected me to be resourceful as I determined what was needful.  When Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon he was given the following counsel by the Lord:

“Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; but be diligent unto the end” (Doctrine & Covenants 10:4).

These words came just after he had been bestowed with the gift of translation for a second time.  The first time he got distracted, lost his focus and made some choices that amounted to a heap of trouble.  He recognized the error of his ways and was given another chance to translate this beautiful record.  Let’s be clear:  The book he was translating would change people’s lives.  Forever.  The book he was translating would provide a foundation for a whole new way of viewing heaven.  This work that he was setting out to do was huge.  I imagine he would’ve felt especially zealous as he wanted to prove himself worthy of heaven’s trust again.  And even with all of that potential for goodness, the FIRST thing the Lord tells him after he bestows the gift of translation again is: don’t overdo it.  He counsels Joseph to be mindful of his limits as well as the grace he is being offered and to respect the enduring nature of the task at hand.  It seems like He’s encouraging Joseph to figure out how this really big priority of translation can become a part of his life without overwhelming him.

In our lives, we are doing small things that are kernels of greatness, in the myriad of interactions in our homes and communities we have the potential to wield goodness and change lives.  I believe these words apply to us too.

More later.




4 thoughts on “The Need for Boundaries: Climbing out of Obligation

  1. I really loved this. It is timely as I try to find a balance in my life. I especially liked your thought “I am the person assigned to look out for me.” That is such a brave and KIND stance to take!

  2. Thanks friend. After our recent conversation I really got to thinking more about these ideas. Thanks for helping me expand my thoughts and understanding :).

  3. I really love your perspective on Doctrine and Covenants 10. I had never thought about the counsel Joseph was given in that way before.

    I’m with Crystal. I love that wise second paragraph about taking care of one’s own needs. No one in our lives can be expected to always read our minds or always instinctively know what we need. It has been a work in progress for me to state my needs and set limits with loved ones.

    I love Ether 12:27. In that verse, the Lord says that He has given us weaknesses that we may be humble. Last year, it hit me. The verse says that He has GIVEN us weaknesses (you could throw in the words limits, boundaries, or shortcomings, etc. in there too). This is part of His plan for mortality.

    My brain is fuzzy (spring break and MIL in town visiting have done a number on my thinking powers)….just know that I really appreciate your blog, Linds.

  4. Haha Anne Marie. That was pretty insightful for compromised thinking. I have never thought about Ether 12:27 that way and you just rocked my world, that’s what he’s talking about huh…limits. We are limited to help us be humble. I’ve always thought of it like giving us specific weaknesses and that has been uncomfortable for me these last few years. I really love broadening it out to limits. Like, our souls are somewhat encumbered by mortality and that’s part of the journey. That gives me a lot to think about. I also love the Good Samaritan story. I can really relate to all the things you mentioned.

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