Category Archives: Codependence

Boundaries, love, sacrifice

Personal boundaries are essential to all relationships; our relationship with our spouse, friends, co-workers, job, possessions, school, government, church and our God. Boundaries define the limits of our expectations, rights and responsibilities. Boundaries are necessary in relationships like skin is to our body. If I meet someone who claims to not have boundaries, who claims to have no rights and always shares everything, I run! Boundaries are an essential part of relationships.

Many popular psychology books have written on this topic but this topic is really ancient. In the Bible when God says, “You shall not,” this is a boundary. The concept of boundaries has received some bad press because of books that fail to teach the balance of self-care with self-sacrifice. And Christians may not appreciate teaching on boundaries because it seems opposed to Biblical emphasis on selfless sacrificial love. If we begin our study of boundaries with an understanding of God’s character and with common sense understanding of nature, we will see that God does have boundaries when he gives commands and that self-care is basic to all biological life.

Self-sacrifice and sacrificial giving is also an essential element of God’s character and of nature. We see sacrifice as an essential part of our physical world in many ways; every human child born into this world is born with the sacrifice of a woman who carried and gave birth to that child. When I watch birds care for their chicks there is an incredible amount of sacrifice involved to continually feed those hungry mouths. When a human parent goes to work every day to provide for his children there is sacrifice. We also see deep within our Creator the character of self-sacrifice, “For God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3:16). Boundaries are compatible with both self-care and self-sacrifice.

Boundaries actually help to establish the balance between self-care and self-sacrifice because when we truly care for ourselves in a healthy way, then our giving is intentional. Many of us who grew up in families where boundaries were violated will spend a lifetime trying to learn healthy love. The first boundary is a physical one; do not touch me without my permission, and do not touch others without their permission. I believe sexual purity and physical boundaries are healthy. Emotional boundaries are less easy to define but very important. We must learn the difference between our own problems and those of others. In advising Christians how to love Paul says in Galatians, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ…But each should also bear his own load” (6:2,5). This is a great balance passage teaching us what healthy love is.

Jesus as an example of balanced healthy love said, “No man takes away my life, but I lay it down of my own choice.” When our lives are being consumed by the demands of life we grow resentful. When others make demands upon us we grow resentful, we resist and we rebel. But when we truly love, we may choose to sacrifice. Most of the great things in life require self-sacrifice.

Serenity prayer- uncut


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

 the courage to change the things I can,

 and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;

Taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it;

Trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will;

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

 and supremely happy with you forever in the next.


Reinhold Niebuhr 1892-1971

surviving church

We can think of church as something that should bring us close to God. But how often do we experience a conflict and church seems to create an obstacle to God? Many of us even grow resentful towards church and flee from it. Young people may depart from the church and faith of their parents. These are typical of a growing faith where God may be calling us to look to Him beyond church.

For me to survive church I need a fiercely independent spirit that is more dependent upon God than people. I realize this is a paradox, that I am created with a need for people and community. To grow healthy my needs should be aligned under God’s authority.

To survive church I need to have healthy boundaries. I cannot let other people’s expectations become my rule of conduct.

To survive church I need a generous spirit towards others as they also struggle with these issues.

To survive church I need to keep focused on my Lord.


My mother’s religion hurts.

You’re greater than my mother.

I see you in her shadow.

She should be in your’s.

Tried to set my shadow free,

tripped up over my feet.

Guess I’m destined to misery,

as far as I can see.

A shadow hangin’ over me,

wets my spirit down.

See you through another’s eyes,

distorts the purest light.

For more on issues of dependency in relationships see the poem “Glow”

2 quotes on risk and courage

Still the last, sad memory hovers round and sometimes drifts across like floating mist, cutting of sunshine and chilling the remembrance of happier times. There have been joys too great to be described in words and there have been griefs upon which I have not dred to dwell; and with these in mind I say climb if you will but remember that courage and strength are not without prudence and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.

Edward Whymper

This writing obtained from the ranger station at Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal… lock it up safe in the coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket… it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable… The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

C S Lewis

Glow, an illustrated poem on codependency

Copyright Rachel Domingo

There were two baby sunflowers, bright and shiny yellow, reaching up to feel the warmth of the sun. Babies they were, young and tender with tender roots and weak knees, soft faces and happy hearts. Early in the morning they would come out with the other flowers to enjoy the morning sun listening to the birds singing praise.

In the middle of the day when the sun rose up high it became quite hot and their soft young petals began to wilt in the heat of the midday sun. It was very hot and they were young, with tender roots and weak knees, soft faces and happy hearts.

Near by were two big sunflowers with thick roots and strong knees, glowing bold faces and generous hearts. The two baby said to the two big sunflowers, “May we stand in your shade in the middle of the day when the sun is so hot that it begins to wilt our soft young petals? For we are young, with tender roots and weak knees, soft faces and happy hearts.” The two big sunflowers said, “Of course we would love to share our shade with you for we were once young too. We have think roots and strong knees, glowing bold faces and generous hearts.” So the two young flowers moved close to the two big flowers during the heat of the day and they were safe in the shade of their big friends.

One of the big sunflowers that was giving shade turned to the young flower in it’s shadow and said, “How small you are, I was once like you. I will give you shade and cover you always, even if we do not grow.” So these two sunflowers gazed upon each other gradually forgetting the sun. Their faces lost their shiny yellow glow, like sleeping flowers their heads sank low. But the other big flower said to the young flower in its shade, “You may share my shade, a welcome friend ou are. But I must fix my gaze on the sun always, for I am a sunflower and I get my shiny yellow glow from the sun.

The little sunflower in the shade of the big flower that kept on gazing at the sun gradually started to grow up and gaze upon the sun all day long. The shadow of the big sunflower became too small for the young flower, it needed more room to grow. So it said, “I want to gaze upon the sun and your shadow has become darkness to me. For I am a sunflower and get my shiny yellow glow from the sun.” Her roots began to grow thick and her knees strong, her face was growing boldly and she now had a generous heart. The two flowers continued side by side both gazing upon the sun. For they are sunflowers, with think roots and strong knees, glowing faces and thankful hearts.

For the complete illustrated version see the pages under “Glow” at the right. Please respect our copyrights on this. Copyrights by Mark Anderson and Rachael Domingo;