Today I made an important decision. It may not seem important but as some one who wants to live connected to community, it was an important decision for me. I decided to delegate a work task so that I could go spend a weekend at the lake with my friends.

That seems like a no brainer right? The reality is many times it’s emotionally easier for me to choose work, a night curled up with a book, or good activities to really spending time with people. I have a wall in my life.

In the quest to have good boundaries, we can easily confuse what we think are boundaries in our life with what are actually walls that we have put up.

I spent years working in ministry and much of that time leading various teams. Anyone who leads, particularly in a ministry setting, knows that situations are bound to arise that will hurt you very deeply. Sometimes I have processed those hurts well and other times I have let them build up walls in my life. In my particular situation, I never had the same team two years in a row – for eleven years! That’s a lot of people coming in and out of your life.

I realized lately that I have a wall that tells me not to get invest too deeply in a group because next year it’ll require the emotional energy to start all over again. That’s a wall – it’s born out of past situations that were hard and it sets me up to protect myself in unhealthy ways.

So how do we know the difference between boundaries in walls in our lives? The difference can be subtle. I try to think of it in this way:

Boundaries help us define ourselves. They define who we are and who we are not. They help us move toward healthy relationships because we have a healthy sense of ourselves.

Walls on the other hand are built up to protect us. They are an unhealthy response to hurtful or emotionally exhausting situations. Ultimately they will move us away from healthy community in some way.

So I would encourage you to look at your boundaries and examine them. Are they a healthy boundary or a damaging wall. If it’s the latter, what steps can you take to break down the wall and move toward healthy community.

Kathryn Taylor is a non-profit consultant and blogger. Read more by Kathryn on her blog

by Kathryn Taylor