Boundaries and the Road to Recovery
We learn a very important lesson somewhere in our childhood. It’s the “Hot” lesson. We usually only need to learn it once. We are about to touch something and someone says “Hot” but we touch it anyway and we get an immediate painful reaction. Lesson learned and we are good to go.
What happens is that we create a “Hot” boundary. Now if you are a risk taker, like me, there are varying degrees of hot. Turn on the tap water and you can feel warm to scalding but you never really know for sure without touching it. Certain things I do not need to touch to know if it is hot, like fire, a red burner on the stove or the orange lump of charcoal in the grill. I have also learned if I cannot resist the temptation to test the temperature, then using the back of my hand works better than the front.
In 1992 Dr. Henry Cloud and John Townsend wrote the book “Boundaries – When To Say Yes, How To Say No, To Take Control Of Your Life.” It has sold over 2 million copies and became a New York Times Bestseller.
I have become a student of boundaries because they are critical to our recovery from sexual brokenness. When my recovery began in September 2005, after my confession to my wife she made it very clear what my boundaries would be. If she was going to stay in the marriage there were some absolute boundaries that must never be crossed. Those two boundaries were;
- Absolutely no contact between me and any woman I had connected with.
- Absolutely no sexual contact with me and any other woman period.
I knew that if I ever crossed those boundaries my wife would throw me out and likely divorce me. I needed those boundaries and so did she if she was going to feel safe in giving me the chance to recover from my sexual brokenness. I have not crossed those boundaries and do you know why?
It isn’t that I have not been tempted, but it is because of the consequences. If the consequence of us falling into sexual sin is powerful enough and you know it is going to happen if you act out, the odds of you acting out in greatly lessened. For example, Jesus said that if your right eye causes you to stumble you should pluck it out. If your right-hand causes you to stumble you should cut it off. He was using hyperbole to make a point!
And He says that right after telling us that if we even look at another person with lust it is as if we have committed adultery already with them in our heart. Those are some serious consequences. So, let’s take it down a notch. Make it a consequence if you fall to porn and masturbation that you will take a hammer and smash your little finger. Or better yet let your wife smash it.
I guarantee you, going forward, one or two things will happen. You will lie and not admit to another fall or you will remember the pain and not act out.
This week I am going to expand on the incredible value consequences play in your recovery. For I have learned this to be true;
A Boundary without a Consequence is No Boundary at all.