Using the ‘B’ word this year

20somethingPursuit[notice]Revivalist Shannon-Leigh Barry shares her wit and passion and the pursuits of her 20something heart in a monthly column that speaks to the desires of young adults in today’s Christian society. [/notice]The thing about writing a column about your heart is that the people you write about will probably end up reading your work. I am hoping this looks theoretical to my audience but if you read anything about my work I always speak from experience. I do not intend on using vulgar language this year to get my point across but something I do intend on working on is boundaries.

I have been reading the Boundaries book by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend. I by no means thought I had difficulty with boundaries. So, as to say, until it was pointed out to me that I struggled to say ‘no’ to people. The person that says ‘no’ in my mind constantly looked like the bad guy and if you grew up in a strong and opinionated family, you for the most part likely said ‘yes’ to keep the freedom from strife even if that meant inconveniencing yourself.

I thought being a first-class Christian meant serving the church well. What I did not understand was that serving in everything at one stage meant I was not giving other people the chance to take ownership of something they were good at. I remember my family asking if they would come second to church. That was a memorable day. God comes first, then family, then church. Many ministers have sacrificed their family on the altar of ministry when in fact God designed family. If you are a Pastor’s Kid reading this you probably are shaking your head right about now.


So the question I posed to myself was, “How do I do relationships really well this season?”

That to me means where I am able to invest in people and feel like the same investment is being poured back. This is different from me ministering to someone where I know I would be pouring in to someone and encouraging them and receiving nothing in return. Relationships and friendships, however, are different. This is often a crossroads many of us face in developing our friendships and at times family or intimate relationships. We give and give and feel taken for granted. These can point to a person over-investing. You might say this is not you. How about these situations?

The friend always in a crisis
These are the friends that I call draining. Lovely people but enough time with them and it feels like your energy has been drained from your body. Everything is going wrong and time management is non-existent in their lives. Everything is done last minute. You need to help them because the world is going to end if you don’t and they will have a meltdown. It’s a new year. When this person phones me I now respond with I am sorry I cannot help you. Unfortunately I have already made plans. I hope you find a solution that works for you and then I hang up and breathe. Truth is the phone only rings when it’s a crisis so it’s a one-way friendship anyway. I’m enforcing that boundary.

The friend that always want to party
We need to have a friend like this. One that picks you after a rough time, says ‘let’s go out’ and brings out the best laugh in you. Someone who knows the best food in town and every time you spend with them is amazing. The problem with this friend is their available living budget is sometimes not the budget they are spending. Eating out and socialising all the time might work for them but might put a strain on your budget. Pick your night and enjoy and then follow up with ‘let’s do coffee next week’.

The super spiritual friend that hardly notices your heart
I have had my fair share of these friends. Most times I don’t get the ‘Christianize’ they use in their sentences. They can talk about God for hours and the heavens and what God is doing. What they fail to understand is that you are made in the image of God and so you are valuable. Instead of talking about spiritual principles they need to see you for who you are. No one likes an unauthentic Christian.

The person trying to control your decisions
Parents, partners, mentors, bosses, and friends — the list is endless. Truth be told you need to make your own decisions so you can take ownership of your life. Nothing irritates me more than an indecisive person. Some people cannot even decide on the food they want to eat or the clothing they want to wear. Part of their problem is that they have never been trusted to make their own decisions or they come from domineering family environments where the have never been given a voice. I remember even being told what to wear to church. It’s a new year. Tell your parents you are an adult. Tell your partners you still have an opinion and can agree to disagree. Tell your mentors you have to make some mistakes on your own. Tell your boss after hours are after hours. Tell your friends you love them but you will not be manipulated into accepting their opinions. Tell the person telling you what to wear that your mother stopped dressing you a long time ago and walk away.

The ex boyfriend/girlfriend that still wants to be “friends”
Send them the dreaded email that states “we cannot be friends” and stick to your boundary. You are not any person’s second option. Think of the time invested in that person and where you are now. Now think of the time you are wasting when you could be investing yourself elsewhere.

The person who always needs money
I am all for generosity and if that is someone you are investing in, then great. Problem is you have family members who believe they are entitled to your pay cheque and so family emergencies seem to make it to your door. If you are not giving with a good heart but rather out of annoyance about someone not managing themselves well, you will probably end up resenting them in the long term.

Boundaries protect your identity. That means when you know who you are and what you want you will protect yourself and prioritise the things God placed in your heart. It means looking after and stewarding the dreams inside you. Boundaries are not about putting up walls but putting up gates on your heart to allow certain people to access your heart. If you are in pain all the time and getting your heart hurt, it probably means someone is getting too close too fast and you should step back and re-evaluate. Some friendships are seasonal.

Yes, God says love everyone but not everyone gets to access the core your heart.


Rights reserved and privileges needed.

Have a great and healthy 2014


  1. Amazing article Shannon! I think boundaries are one of the most critical parts of a healthy, enjoyable life. Very well articulated points, and I think we can all relate to the types of people you mentioned.

  2. Good points Shannon. I can relate to more than a few of them. Won’t say which side. ;-)