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My oldest daughter, who is now approaching her teenage years, was known for her passionate outbursts as a toddler. One of her favorite phrases when she wanted more personal space was, "I need my privacies!" Usually, she would say this when her brother, who is 12-months younger than her, was pestering her and invading her bubble of physical space.
Speaking of a space bubble: years ago, at a Saturday teen event, I saw these huge, plastic bubbles. Big enough for someone to get inside of them. In fact, that is what they were for. Teens would get inside of them - one teen per bubble. Their legs would stick out the bottom of the bubble enough that they could still run around. Then, they would run at each other and bounce off of one another.
The girls would usually giggle as they ran into each other and then fall on the ground and giggle some more. Most of the guys, however, looked like they were in a fight for their lives. They would run at each other seeking to annihilate their opponent with a ferocity in their eyes. It was ironic the intensity they had while they were surrounded by plastic and air.
This makes me think about how we live our lives. We all need some sort of bubble around us to insulate us from unnecessary pain. In many ways this is an important part of a healthy life. We put a layer of protection on our physical bodies when we put on clothes and regulate the temperature of the buildings we occupy. Our physical bodies are not capable of remaining healthy when we constantly expose them to an environment which is hard on them.
When we apply this to our emotional and spiritual wellbeing, we must make the same application. We do need a layer of protection and to regulate the environment we are in so that we are not continually harmed emotionally and spiritually. An emotionally and spiritually healthy person cannot constantly experience a toxic environment.
Many people use the word "boundaries" to describe these layers of protection. Learning how to set proper boundaries in your life is essential to your wellbeing. Some people are in a time of healing and they will need to set more boundaries in their life to create extra space for healing.
Even when we have learned to maintain good boundaries in our lives, we will not live a pain free life. Some folks error on the side of trying to keep ALL the pain out, seeing no value at all in it. We must learn how to create healthy boundaries, but we must recognize that some painful experience is also helpful for us to be healthy human beings. We have growing pains as our body develops physically, and we will also experience them throughout our lives as we grow emotionally and spiritually.
My goal isn't to tell you how to figure this out. Instead, I want you to think about whether or not you are setting healthy boundaries in your life. And, when painful experiences do happen, how are you growing because of them?