I have legitimate needs. I need to set up boundaries.

several assorted-color neon light signage

My recent discovery is that I have needs. Legitimate needs. And I need to make sure they get met.

On the one hand, your first thought might be, “Well, duh. Very insightful, girlfriend. Everyone has needs. For example, everyone needs water, food, love…” Or it could be the opposite, “‘Need’ is a very strong word. Most of what you think you need is really a want.” I would know; I’ve tended to ride these extremes.

However, the fact of the matter is that there is a middle ground–one that deserves our attention. Sometimes I inaccurately frame my “wants” as “needs.” But just as likely, I fear, I dismiss my sincere and legitimate “needs” as only selfish “wants.” And that isn’t fair to myself.

I, after all, am a princess of the True and living God, complete with needs deserving much more than flippant dismissal. I am worth fighting for and I–being the one best aware of my needs–have the responsibility to fight for them.

blue wooden dor

Honestly, it is a bit humbling.

It’s humbling to admit I have needs. It’s humbling to put a limit on what I can do for others because I need to take time for myself. It’s humbling to ask for things I need.

But I’m worth it. So I’ve been learning to set up boundaries. Not to control others. But for my own safety–out of self-respect. It’s not easy.

First, I have to recognize needs that I have a right to: Respect. Trust. Truth. Space… 

Then I have to set up realistic, concrete boundaries.

“I need rest, hence I can help you, but only until 10 pm.”

“I need respect so if you continue to use that tone of voice with me, I will walk away.”

“I value our relationship, however, I need it to be grounded on trust and if you continue to lie to me, I will have to remove myself from this situation for my own safety.”

“I need someone to listen, so even if it might inconvenience her, I will call my friend.”

“I need help with dinner, so I need you to turn off the TV.”

“I need your attention, so I need you to set aside your phone.”

green leafed plant near table

While the concepts are always true, most of my specific boundaries are grounded in some time and circumstantial frame; things I need in certain moments, but not all the time. For example, some nights I can stay up later than 10 talking to a friend. Sometimes I can grin and bear it and make dinner alone. Sometimes I can just journal instead of talking in real time to a friend. However, just because they aren’t always a need doesn’t dismiss them as never a need.

I definitely don’t claim to know the trick to determining when a desire is a want versus a need. That’s a struggle I’m dealing with every day. Do I really need time alone or am I just wanting it? And then there are other confusing conflicts; I need time alone to rest and she needs someone to be with her and listen to her. What then? My mom needs to be treated with respect, but her son needs to be heard and loved regardless.

So, no, I don’t have that down yet. But for now I’m giving myself space to recognize that I do have needs. Legitimate needs. And, being a human created in the very image of our great God, I have a right to treat myself with respect. In fact, I have the duty to stand up for myself–to make sure my needs are met. Because I’m worth it.

You’re worth it. And you do have needs. And that’s perfectly okay. It’s right, even. So give yourself space to listen to your needs. And then set up boundaries to take care of yourself. It’s how God created us. Self-respect is not selfish.

Comment below. What are some needs that you legitimately have? What are some boundaries that are appropriate, even though they may sometimes feel selfish? What do you do to differentiate between a want and a need?

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Me vs. Me

person outside the window

The emotional me lies. It tells me I hate myself. It tells me I can’t ever grow. It tells me I’m a failure. Ironically, my emotional me even hates itself. It says I’m hopelessly trapped in a roller coaster of uncontrollable emotions. And that’s shameful.

And I also have a logical side of me. That logical side of me has to constantly fight my emotional me. It has to daily reign her in, it has to constantly speak truth over her shrieking lies, it has to calm her down, it has to teach her not to hate herself.

When I’m really having a bad day, I only listen to the emotional side of me. And I hate myself. But when I recognize that I also have a logical side, I have to admit, I respect her grayscale photography of kids walking on roada lot.

After all, she’s so stinkin’ loyal. Almost twenty-three long (short?) years, she’s been trying to be her “brother’s keeper,” trying to reign in my emotional me with tenderness, self-compassion, truth, hope, love, and grace. And there is something very respectable about that.

Day after day after day, she gets an onslaught of emotional me’s lies and fights. But she takes it like a hero and keeps speaking truth. She believes in the whole of me and loves the whole of me–even her emotional “enemy.” Like a mother of an unruly toddler, she isn’t trying to slay my emotions. She loves and respects even the emotional me. But having respect for the emotional side means she has high hopes and expectations and believes the emotional me can be respectable. She’s working to put her in line. And that’s admirable. 

I hate battling myself. The good news is that my logical self is working daily with God, working to calm and shape my emotional self. And when someone is working in tandem with God–up against an enormous battle or not–she has the upper hand.

silhouette close-up photo of wheat fieldSo daily, while my emotional side tells lies and spreads shame and hopelessness and fear, my logical side continues to stand beside her, hugging her, telling her the truth and taking the blows while still loving her nonetheless.

And I’m proud of that side of me.

That’s all I got.

Am I Proud of or Ashamed of Who I am?

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I wrote a post on surrounding yourself with people who will encourage you, be a good influence on you, and challenge you. For me, as a Christ follower, that means finding close friends who are serious about their faith and are pursuing a relationship with God hard core. But then the question plagues me: how can I tell if someone is sincere in his/her faith?

As I wrestled with this thought, I had to ask myself what I am doing to show my passion for Christ? This can be a painful question. This post is written as much for myself as it is for you

To get a practical application of how I could see Christ in others or how I could demonstrate my faith myself, I considered people around me who I admire to see how they show their passion for Christ. As much as we might prefer a glorious, mythical answer, the truth is, in those who I admire, I see Christ lived out in the little things.

1 Thessalonians 4:11 commands: “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you.” 1 Timothy 2:2-3 repeats the idea, “…that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…”

Big glorious things for Christ matter, but it is the simple, daily, living-life things that we are commanded to submit to Christ if we really want to live out our faith.

Free stock photo of man, person, dirty, constructionWork

Especially over the summer, the idea of using everyday work to glorify God spoke to me. 40+ Hours: What do We Communicate at Work?40+ Hours: What do We Communicate at Work? is a heart-felt post I wrote explaining how our time at work is a chance we have to serve others and find purpose. Work is not simply a wretched torture we must suffer through to supply our needs; instead it is an opportunity to engage with the people and tasks around us–to use the gifts and talents God has provided to serve others.

People will see Christ in me when I do my work passionately, go above and beyond expectations, and work as if it really matters. For my job as a tour guide at Cornerstone University, this means not just leading tours and saying what I have to say, but adding sincere energy. It means memorizing the names of the students on my tours. It means asking what they would like to know about, caring about their needs. It means arriving early to work and being willing to stay late sometimes. It means smiling while I work and going out of my way to find answers to questions. Is that the attitude I have when I head to work?

I want to be a Christian who has a great reputation at work because I am going to work looking to serve others, and not just looking out for myself.

Time management

Blue sand falls in an hourglass on a rocky beachThe way we prioritize also speaks volumes to what we are living for. Am I making time for one-on-one time with God daily (severely important!!!)? Am I making time to spend with others? Am I being responsible with the tasks I have to accomplish?

Everyone needs to waste time sometimes, but when I am tempted to binge watch Rhett and Link, I have to question: is that really the best way to use the limited time I have on earth? When I stay up late and am grumpy at work the next day, it’s not just myself who is affected. Am I viewing my time on earth as a temporary loan, or am I just looking to use it for myself and my personal pleasures? Am I wishing time away or am I looking to use the most of each moment I’ve been gifted with life?

I want to be a Christian whose time management points to a purpose above my own.

Respect for Others

A Christ-follower should believe that each individual possesses at least some aspect of who God is. I believe those who call themselves Christians should not gossip, should not tear others down, and should, in fact, do quite the opposite. The Christians who I admire do a great job of seeing the positives in others and serving others. As Christians, we can speak so much of God’s love by serving those around us. Sometimes this means opening doors for others. Sometimes it means befriending that lonely kid in your hall. Sometimes it means helping a classmate with homework. Or writing an encouraging note to someone. It can mean not dissing a professor, not speaking poorly of that one kid in class, not watching that film that the others are into. It can be small, but respect shows.

I want to be a Christian who radiates respect.

Image result for brokeMoney

How a person spends his/her money will show exactly what that person prioritizes. Again, it is absolutely okay to spend some money on yourself from time to time just for fun. But am I tithing? Am I giving some of it to the expansion of Christ’s kingdom? (Compassion International is a great organization to donate to, you can sponsor a child and see how much that one sponsorship can change the world for a child on the other side of the world!)

I know I’m speaking mostly to college students here. I know that we have very minimal amounts of money to spend. So maybe the question isn’t so much about how you could spend your money differently, but how about considering how much energy you waste worrying about your money? I want to learn to trust God so that, when I’m doing as much as I can, I can lay aside the worry and not let money stress me out.

I want to be a Christian who has enough confidence in my great God that when money is tight (i.e. always), I will never stop giving and will trust God to be in control.

Attitude

I hope that if you’ve been following my blog even halfheartedly that you’ve been slapped in the face with my passion for having a joyful attitude. Attitude is such a choice and it has the potential to be such a huge witness! I believe in a God who grants us hope, peace, trust, and JOY! As I Christ-follower, it is my sincere hope to represent some of God’s great attributes through having a joyful attitude.

Going out on the mission field, draining your savings to support a Christian organization, adopting a whole family of kids from the other side of the world: these are things that glorify God. But walking into work with a smile, writing an encouraging note to your roommate, working hard on your homework: these glorify God just as much.

The majority of our time and energy on earth is honestly spent just trying to stay alive; eating, sleeping, and breathing. It’s exhausting. But God put us on earth to live. And these things are what living takes. It is even these things that glorify God.

The way we do the simplest aspects of everyday living is what truly communicates to the world about our passion for Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”