Money Trouble #7: Boundaries

Do you feel obligated to attend family events even though the expense feels burdensome? Are you frequently covering or lending money for adult children’s expenses? Are you repeatedly authorizing an employee’s pay advance? Boundaries are a big topic to tackle, one I am VERY passionate about, because healthy boundaries are VITAL to an abundant life.

Healthy boundaries are actually rare in any culture, but we Christians are especially ill-trained. Love, service, and family are CENTRAL to the Christian practice. We willingly or resentfully fork out money to grown children, parents, coworkers, The Church, the food bank, grandchildren, and anyone else who comes to us with puppy dog eyes and makes us feel sorry for them. We think we are helping, and that is what Christians should do, isn’t it? “They are my [baby, mama, neighbor]! We’re supposed to help those in need, right???”Well, yes . . .depending on how we define “help.”

I have four kids, and they LOVE to “help” me in the kitchen. They eagerly drag and drop their chairs and stools from counter to stove so they can have a front row seat to all the action. They love to stir, mix, cut, taste, flip, and spread everything. When the evening is rushed or the task is advanced, I try to give them a simple, helpful task like set the table or stir the sauce while I handle the boiling water or splashing grease. They cry and complain and insist they want to “help!” Do they want to help? Or do they want to participate in the control??? Those are NOT the same things.

When you are “helping” someone financially, it is important to assess if you are “helping” or “participating.”

Is your involvement resulting in growth, confidence, and independence for you and your loved one? If not, you may need to ask if our Savior’s commandments have been mixed up with your Savior complex? Does your “help” serve their true needs, or does it serve your need to be needed, liked, or noticed? Are you avoiding necessary confrontation or negative emotions? Our discomfort with negative emotions makes boundaries with loved ones tough. It is tough!

Maybe you can see an unhealthy pattern, but you don’t know what else to do because your loved one doesn’t seem to care about your boundaries! Maybe you do try to have healthy boundaries but you just end up dealing with a loved one’s adult temper tantrum, demoralizing guilt trips, or hurtful name calling.

Boundaries are not brick walls. They are fences, nets, and bright lines that create safety, clarity, productivity, and sanity.

Take comfort in this truth:

If it’s love, then there will be boundaries. If there are no boundaries, then it is not love.

Showing compassion, support, and giving assistance is NOT the same as taking away consequences, swooping in to remove someone’s chance to grow, or allowing others to disrespect our boundaries.

God Himself has excellent boundaries. He confronts sin and allows consequences for behavior. He guards His house and will not allow evil things to go on there. When He was confronted by bullies and those who were trying to harm Him, he pushed through the crowds and left. He invites people in who will love him and withdraws his spirit from those who do not. Christ NEVER does for us what we can do for ourselves and he doesn’t manipulate or demand but waits patiently at the door for us to do our part. The only time He submitted to harm and the emotional immaturity of others was the final time when He was fulfilling His mission as the Savior of the World. He is the Savior, not us.

Healthy boundaries are essential for budgeting money, energy, time, and LIFE!

Would you like to work on boundary issues that affect your ability to reach your financial goal or live abundantly?

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Published by Ruth Liebel

I am a mother of 4, wife of a surgeon and soldier, girl of the Southwest but I love The South. I am a formally educated financial counselor and a Ramsey Preferred Coach. I love my work and want to empower others to live abundantly through budget, boundaries, and beliefs. What can I help you accomplish today?