Please welcome Katharine Grubb, of www.10minutenovelist.com, who shares how our limitations can be good things, how boundary lines this summer may bring joy in unexpected ways. Read on…
When you’ve spent your adult life in Massachusetts, you get a definitive picture of what the perfect summer is. This picture is full of clambakes, Cape Cod antics and Kennedy-esque leisure. If not the Kennedys, then you may envision 104 days of Phineas & Ferb type adventure in which no one has to do chores, pay those outrageous technology bills, or go to bed.
These images are far removed from my reality. We’ll never have the money for a idyllic Martha’s Vineyard beach house. The only boat we have is one we made of paper that is seaworthy for thirty seconds in the bath water. In most cities, you can’t legally own a platypus as a pet.
Every summer, I have to battle various restrictions on our family. Every summer this is a huge challenge.
Psalm 16:5-6 says, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
This verse challenges me to look at my summer boundary lines, or my limitations, as good things. School is out for my kids! I don’t have to homeschool for weeks! We are free! But even in that freedom, there are good things that keep us restricted or limited. Some of these boundaries I love, like the fence around Grammy’s pool. Some I’m not too fond of, like the fact I don’t always have a car available to me. Instead of complaining about my lack of freedom this summer, I need to look with fresh eyes the boundary lines God has given me.
Boundaries put us in a place where we must learn to submit to God’s call on our life. They may be there to correct a behavior in us, much like the toddler put in a time-out chair. We need that boundary too at times. I’ve had more trying summers than this one. In hindsight, I was grateful for the lessons learned and the gentle way God led me into obedience. If your summer is beginning in discomfort, pray that God shows you how you can change your behavior or your attitude.
Boundaries put us in a place of safety. In much the same way that we instruct our children to not swim in the deep end or to stay in the yard, God gently put his boundaries around us to prevent us from harming ourselves or being susceptible to temptation. Why do we have pool rules? To keep our children, whom we love more than anything, from being injured. How much more our Father protects us with his boundaries. Thank God for literal and figurative lifeguards, playground fences and warning signs on the deluxe package of fireworks.
Boundaries encourage contentment. When my plans change, or when I’m a season of transition, the last place I go to is contentment. Yet, I know my children will never learn contentment if they don’t see it modeled by me. Our summer will be much more pleasant if we don’t pout when faced with a rain delay, a summer cold or we can’t make the picnic. And really, who wants to be a Kennedy anyway?
Boundaries promote creativity. Pope John Paul II said, in Love & Responsibility “Limitation of one’s freedom might seem to be something negative and unpleasant, but love makes it a positive, joyful and creative thing. Freedom exists for the sake of love.” Out of love, God often restricts us so that we can find creative solutions to our problems. His solutions will be richer than we could ever imagine. I don’t have access to a car everyday, but I am within walking distance of the library and a playground. I’ve organized the mothers at church to meet me twice a week at places that are easy for me to get to. Our church moms now have two free events every week — one at the playground and one at a local swimming hole — that meets my need and theirs too. My limitation of not having a car regularly allowed me to create this. What are the creative solutions God wants to help you with in your boundaries?
Boundaries can calm anxiety. Thirty-one flavors of ice cream sounds like a great options but life is easier when you only have chocolate and vanilla. I’ve found, for me and for my children that the fastest path of peace is one with the fewest choices. Rest in that and be grateful for those boundaries that restrict your options.
Boundaries remind us that joy is not found in experiences nor in abundance.
We want to teach our children that while summer is fun, it’s not what makes us happy. True joy is found in rest, in thankfulness, in loving people and the simple beauty of a firefly at night.
True supernatural joy is found when we finally rest inside our boundaries, not when we struggle against them.
God is the God of the summer. He created summer so that the earth could grow. Perhaps for us, summer is a chance to stretch our faith and become more vibrant and healthy. Phineas, Ferb, and the entire Kennedy clan should be so blessed.
She blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new weekly newsletter, The Rallying Cry, is an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. Sign up here.