About Walls, Boundaries and Over-Investing

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by Sonia Singh

Walls

People were never born with walls. So then, why do we ever create walls? We put up walls, we build walls, and some of us even add mazes to walls (Iʼm guilty of it). Is it because sometime or somewhere in the past, we were hurt, knowingly or unknowingly, and there was no one who showed us how to embrace that feeling of being hurt? We did not know how to process, move past and heal from it. Therefore, the one thing we did know, which comes naturally for most, is to protect ourselves, and not allow ourselves to be put in that position again.

The thing with walls is that it has two sides. A wall can protect you from receiving negative emotions, experiences, feelings, but it also blocks you from receiving and experiencing Godʼs full blessings. So, in order to breathe and feel that fresh air, you need to create windows within your walls, and choose wisely who you let inside your walls. It is not wrong to have a wall, but it is wrong to put everyone on the outside of your walls. You donʼt need everyone, you only need a handful of people whom you trust, who are genuine and truly care so that you may be vulnerable, honest, and you may be you! And thereʼs no better feeling than being no one else but you! As the awesome, precious person that God has made and called you to be.

Boundaries

One factor that might contribute to why I created these walls, could be my failure to create boundaries. Boundaries are necessary, boundaries are good. The right kind of boundaries, of course. Being in a tightly-knit asian culture, where we know nearly no boundaries. Whatʼs my business, becomes your business. And it becomes everyoneʼs business, this principle kind of goes against what we know, what Iʼve known. There is value in this, as it creates a sense of care but it can also create a false sense of care, depending on the motives

When everyone makes your business theirs, it also creates an added unnecessary pressure. It also takes peopleʼs focus away from what they should be dealing with first, their own issue, work on their own problems, their own progress (First take the speck out of your own eyes so you may clearly remove the speck in your brotherʼs) . Thereʼs a fine line between being nosy and genuinely caring. The first simply comes to take (to hear, to know whatʼs the latest story); while the latter, comes with the intention to give (a word of encouragement, a lending ear, a prayer). The first destroys, depletes trust. The latter builds. So evaluate yourself the next time youʼre about to get or share “updates”, especially when itʼs not your story to tell.

Boundaries are good, because it creates a feeling of safety. A safe environment, where you can open up, you can be honest, you can be vulnerable, and once again, you can be you! (yes, you). My lack of realization for this need of boundaries have caused me to build walls, and mazes. And it has led me no good. So now, that my walls are somewhat down, I choose wisely whom I let in, and I create necessary boundaries. Those who have earned my trust, I will let in, a step further, a step further. I donʼt know how this will work out, but this sure sounds like a much better plan than to continue living alone in that wall of mine, ever lonely, and ever suffocated and with no fresh air. Weʼll see how this goes.

Over-investing vs Giving

One of the things I struggle is, my tendency to give. I have needed to learn to tame this desire to give, because time and time again I over give and I over invest, where I should not. Those who knows me well, knows how loyal and generous I am in this regard. I give my time, my attention, and I invest in emotionally, I empathize (often times a little too much than is required).

I have always know that I have just so much love, so much care, so much to give, but I just need to be wise in who and how I choose to channel it to. (Being a type 2 in the Enneagram test, this confirms my life long wondering of why is it that I have this constant need and find fulfillment in giving).

When you give, you give what you have, with no expectation of return. You give, is an act of simply letting things out, an outflow.

But when you invest, you may sometimes put in more of what you can afford. Or you put in what you donʼt yet have. Or perhaps you have even sacrificed something, some time, some desire, some dreams, some aspect, some values, to put into that whatever youʼre investing in. And so itʼs only natural to expect some sort of return. Whether it be the same favor, the same kind of attention or the same kind of gesture somewhere down the line when you need it, in return.

Different types of relationship, requires a different kind of giving/ investing. When in a context of friendship, when in the context of relationship and within the context of marriage. They each call for a different level of giving. The Bible calls us to give our all when in the context of marriage (in return for commitment), but other than that, I believe there is only so much that can be given in outside the context of it. And we should be wise about how much you can give.

So it is key to find a balance, to know and be aware of how much I can give without feeling left dry or without feeling like he/ she is being slack, when I (in my rarest occasion) do ask for a favor/ help in return. Because I very very rarely ask for help (itʼs a pride thing, and thatʼs another story, another struggle to battle, but Iʼm working on it), so you know, when I do ask and I donʼt get the support I was hoping (the support Iʼd be willing to immediately give should I be asked), I wonʼt feel meh.

Thereʼs definitely a lot more to this, but thatʼs for another time :) Til then, God bless!

Struggles of Working in a Family Business

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Working in a family business is like an irony. People would think that because it's our own family company, we have a lot of rooms to grow and move around and change things as we deem important. But truthfully, it's harder than it looks. Here are some of the struggles I've encountered:

1. Passing the baton

My father is a self-made man. His family came from nothing and being able to build his own entire company until having what we have now, is something he values so much. It’s his baby. Maybe it's even where he puts his identity in. So that being said, I felt there were a lot of difficulties for him on giving up control and authority. Company structure became messy and I wasn’t the only one who was having trouble positioning myself in the company. The employees were also confused on whom they had to report to, because the business was slowly being passed onto his kids.

Read the full article at ResourceGlobal.org

 

Alternate Realities and Alternate Poverties

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By Felicia Hanitio

As a child, whenever I was approached by beggars on the streets of Shanghai, I recall pausing and reaching for my coin purse before my parents would pull me along and gently reprimand me: didn’t I know my money would just encourage their slothfulness, that if these people really tried they could find a real job? Their words did not sit well with me, not then or later as I repeatedly encountered homeless people in every city we visited or lived in. But then again, who was I to disobey my parents’ wishes, when I wasn’t even sure what difference my contribution would make?

Read the full article at ResourceGlobal.org

Messed up people

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The Bible is filled with pretty messed up people.

Have you read through the entire book of Genesis?

I grew up in Sunday School thinking of these people as heros. It starts with Adam and Eve - the first man and woman on earth, who start their lovey-dovey relationship by blaming each other for eating an apple. AN APPLE. They bore children of which one son kills the other out of jealousy. #familygoals #fail

THEN the world became so messed-up that God had to wipe out the entire human race. God does save one man, Noah, and his family. It’s amazing how the obedience of one man can save an entire family.

Lot had daughters that got him drunk and slept with him to preserve their family line. How warped is that? Jacob tricked Esau (his older brother) into selling his birthright for a bowl of soup, which started generations of sibling rivalry.

Rachel was so obsessed and competitive about producing children for Jacob that she even brought her slave girls to sleep with her husband to out number her sister.

Rahab was a prostitute.

Joseph was the favorite son out of his 12 siblings. But out of jealousy, his brothers sell him as a slave.

The craziest thing is that all these people led to the genealogy of Jesus. God knew the depths of darkness in their hearts, yet redeemed their sinfulness and used their life to restore light to the world.

I don't know about you, but that gives me hope.

No matter how far gone you feel you are, God still wants you. Just like Rachel, we often focus too much on comparing our lives, our accomplishments and judging how much we deserve based on merit. Grace is not about what we deserve, it is about what God gives, regardless of what you deserve. God knows everything about you, and He still loves you. You are never out of reached to be loved, redeemed and used by Him to do good works.

You Are Never Out of Reach

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The Bible is filled with pretty messed up people.

Have you ever read through the entire book of Genesis?

I grew up in Sunday School thinking of these people as heros. It starts with Adam and Eve. The first man and woman on earth who, start their lovey-dovey relationship by blaming each other for eating an apple. AN APPLE. Then they bore children, of which one son kills the other out of jealousy. #familygoals #fail

The world then becomes so messed-up that God had to wipe out the entire human race except for one obedient man, Noah, and his family. It is amazing how the obedience of one man can save an entire family.

Lot, another person in the Bible,  had daughters that got him drunk and slept with him to preserve their family line. How warped is that? Jacob tricked Esau (his older brother) into selling his birthright for a bowl of soup and started sibling rivalry for generations to come.

Rachel was obsessed and competitive about bearing children for Jacob. So obsessed that she even had her slave girls sleep with her husband to out number her sister.

Rahab was a prostitute.

Joseph, being the favorite son out of his 12 siblings, was sold as a slave by his brothers because of their jealousy.

The craziest thing is that all these people are a part of the genealogy of Jesus. God knew the depths of darkness in their hearts and yet redeemed their sinfulness and used their life to restore light to the world.

I don't know about you, but that gives me hope.

No matter how far gone you feel from God, God still wants you. Just like Rachel, we often focus too much on comparing our lives and our accomplishments with others. We end up judging how much we deserve based on merit.  Grace is not about what we deserve, but about what God gives us regardless of what you deserve. God knows everything about you, and yet He still loves you and always will. You are never too out of His reach to be loved, redeemed and used by Him to do good works.

3 Reasons Why We Don't Connect

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What prevents us from stepping out and connecting with someone on a deeper level? Why is it so hard to dig deeper into relationships and move on from those "Hi and Bye" acquaintance friendships?

Why is it that when we feel loved or embraced by another person that we sometimes feel ourselves getting emotionally overwhelmed and begin to push that good person out of our life?

I have concluded that there are 3 reasons (I am sure there are more, however, these are the 3 I have seen and experienced) that prevent us from fully embracing the relationships that God has placed in our life:

  1. Pride (lack of humbleness)
  2. A Feeling of unworthiness
  3. Shame: Fear of the darkness inside us

Pride

Why are we afraid to be on the losing end of a relationship? Why are we afraid to be the one who “shows our cards” first? Why is it so hard to be the first to let our guard? If we do it first, then the other person can let their guard down too. The answer is Pride. Pride to me is defined as a lack of humbleness. The lack of humbleness stems from a greater love of oneself than the love of a person in your life. Pride prevents you from opening up your heart. By opening up your heart, you take the risk of having your feelings hurt and your heart trampled on. But who is the “better” person? The one that lays everything down for the sake of developing a genuine, authentic friendship or the one that closes up because he cares more about his feelings and reputation?

Feeling of Unworthiness

I don't have what it takes to meet your expectations therefore, I will choose to keep you at arms length. I do not have much to offer, I am messed up, I do not come from a good family, I have a horrible past. I am not smart enough, I am not popular enough, I am not powerful enough, I am not rich or well connected enough. I am not enough, so I cannot fulfill my part of this relationship.

Have you ever felt that way before? I have. My personality requires me to do my part, pull my weight, if not more (than the other person) in order for me to feel worthy of the friendship/relationship. However, is that the way God wants us to see/value ourselves? God declares that you are worthy of His love. When you have thoughts of not being enough, you are saying that God and what Jesus did was foolish and for nothing. Is God's Love for you not enough?

Shame

You will abandon me once you know what I have done. I am too messed up for you to know and accept all of me. Therefore, I will only give you the bits of my life I feel you can handle and leave the rest in my dark past. What I have realized is that shame loves darkness. It thrives when it is kept in and hidden. I have also learned that shame loses its power once it is brought into the light. Once we allow people to shed words of loving truths onto our shame, shame loses its power. Shame isolates you, puts you down and prevents you from moving forward. It can also prevent you from developing close relationships with others that can potentially help you grow.

My question to you (and myself is) what is holding you back? What keeps you from experiencing the fullness of the relationships around you? What keeps you from fully experiencing God's love? I want to invite you to deal with these heart issues together. Let's reflect more, and make the decision to get rid of pride. Let's get rid of feelings of unworthiness and of shame. Let’s do this because God bore everything on the cross so that we can fully experience his love and love others out of the overflow of HIS LOVE.

Emotional Open Heart Surgery

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What keeps us from being vulnerable??
 

What keeps us from fully experiencing relationships with the people God has placed in our life?
 

What keeps us from embracing our imperfections and being open about them

You hear grand words like being authentic and being real - what does that look like?

I am passionate about building communities that are a safe space to help people grow spiritually, mentally, physically, and holistically. I encourage people to be open and honest about their fears and pains. What am I asking of my community members when I ask for vulnerability? Am I being authentic in all that I do and setting a good example for my members, my students, and my children to follow?

For me, being in an authentic, vulnerable relationship involves an element of codependency with another person. You are trusting them to be able to deal with your deepest level of emotions and to hold your heart when it is frail and weak. In a world filled with darkness, selfishness and manipulative tendencies, our defense mechanism is to close up and keep to ourselves. While that might seem wise at times... it is healthy? Is it Biblical?

I see myself as someone who is somewhat healthy, but I realized that even as an emotionally okay person, I keep people at arms length. Even though people who need to feel loved by me are close, I  put them at a safe distance, so I do not get hurt if they choose to leave. Can you relate? Yes, I believe that there needs to be boundaries in every relationship, but this blog probably more relatable for those that are maybe too good with setting boundaries. The problem is that the relationships they end up developing are only surface level. I am realizing that perhaps this might just be an issue I am dealing with. This has been an unaddressed issue in my heart. I want to take steps to be vulnerable. By sharing my struggle with others, I hope it will help others reflect through their emotional health and faith journey.

Next week, I want to look at 3 reasons why we do not not fully embrace the relationships that God has placed in our lives.  

When Head Knowledge Becomes Heart Knowledge

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Being biblically literate and memorizing verses is important, however, when head knowledge becomes heart knowledge, that is when true life transformation happens.

Over the past few weeks, I have been going through a book with my life group (Young Adults Community Group) called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. Emotions are complicated, messy; life would be much easier if we could just get by our days by shutting away our emotions to get things done.

I have learned over the past weeks that God speaks through our emotions. When we shut down or bottle our emotions we miss out on the things that God is trying to say to us. God speaks through disappointments, sadness, happiness, anger, jealousy. The point is not that we should be guided by our emotions (because that would lead to horrible life decisions), but the point is to realize and reflect on why we feel the way we feel, and what are the things God is trying to reveal to us through these emotions.

In moments we are disappointed or during situations that just make us burst in anger, we must analyze why we feel angry? Is it because we do not like losing control? Is it because we do not like being abandoned? Why do we react in the way we do? Is it because of our family culture, the way we are brought up?

Understanding why we feel the emotions we feel and being able to correct ourselves to be emotionally healthy is an important part of spiritual growth.  

Living in a culture where we are taught to "save face" and bottle up emotions, this book was not easy to digest. I live in a culture where emotions of sadness, anger, disappointment, or even over the top happiness are seen as a sign of weakness and not appropriate to display in public.

From a young age, I was taught to "know my place", and "accept" the way young people are treated based on culture and tradition. I push down emotions of frustration when being scolded and learned to numb emotions of disappointment. I noticed later on in life that these bottled emotions started to leak out in the form of passive aggressiveness and sarcasm. I begin to create emotional barriers in my relationships to prevent myself (my heart) from getting hurt.

Understanding how family culture and ethnicity has built me to the person I am today and taking a step back in realizing the emotional baggage that has accumulated over the years has helped me uncover bad habits and emotional behaviors I have built up. I began to reflect on situations that would rise up that would cause me to be overly sensitive or give out overblown reactions and made a decision to lay my insecurities and emotional baggage at the feet of Jesus.

In response to Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,  I have decided to be more open vulnerable to a trusted group of friends about the emotions I feel. I can say it has not been easy but being able to sort through emotion and respond in a healthy manner has been a challenging yet liberating experience.

It is a liberating realization to know that I am not bounded by my past or my or emotional responses built by my culture but embracing God's love gives me the power to break these unhealthy emotional habits and embrace God's family culture.

We tend to belittle emotions and see them as signs of weakness but when we bring those weaknesses before God, He can turn our greatest weakness into our greatest asset to serve others and bring glory to God.