Your Invisible Fence
Did you know that the Friday after Father’s Day is Take Your Dog to Work Day? I confess this was news to me! Allergies and a daughter with a fear of dogs that is sensed from miles away have kept us a dog-free family.
We have had neighbors with dogs, though, and here in the South it is much more common for dog owners to have an invisible fence rather than the 6’ variety that was common when we lived in California. The nice thing about an invisible fence is that even in the front yard there are no obstructions since the wires that create barrier are buried. A happy barrier from my daughter’s point of view!
In order for an invisible fence to work there are two components: the buried wire and the computer collar worn by the dog. When the pooch edges up towards the buried wire boundary, he gets a “static correction” that reminds him to turn around and stay inside the familiar yard.
Dogs aren’t the only ones with invisible fences. Without even realizing it, you most likely have a system in place that allows you to run free and play inside the boundaries, but when you bump up against your invisible fence you experience that static correction and quickly settle back inside your yard. That invisible fence is fear.
Here’s how it works: You have the potential to expand your territory. It might be an opportunity that allows you to embrace more of your potential, a new relationship or increased intimacy in a current relationship, or a chance to make more money – all positive. Just when everything seems to be going splendidly, you do something to sabotage your chance to expand your boundaries and you return to the safety of your familiar space. Have you experienced that? I know I have!
As a result, you experience little or no progress in life, work, or relationships. You are stuck and you don’t even realize that you are the one triggering the static correction.
Why do you hold yourself back? Consider the following four themes:
- I don’t have what it takes – I lack the experience or knowledge, I am flawed, or I have made too many wrong choices. In light of that, I will probably fail.
- If I succeed, my family and friends will think I am abandoning them or that I am disloyal. Success will mean I will be alone.
- If I achieve more success in my life (increase my potential, have better relationships, or enjoy more abundance), it will be too much for me or those close to me to handle. I will be a burden.
- If I truly become all that God created me to be I will outshine others and make them look bad by comparison.
Which themes ring true for you? They seem true and feel very real, but are based on lies you believe about yourself rather than viewing yourself in light of your identity in Christ. You go through life unconsciously making choices based on these misconceptions. Each time that feeling gets buzzed you are likely to behave on one of the following ways:
1. Criticize & Blame
I start with this one because it is one I resort to often. It doesn’t matter if you tend to criticize and blame yourself or others, the effects are the same. They dash positive feelings and return you to your safety zone. The only time criticism or blame is useful is when it is directed at a specific thing and produces a useful result.
Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. Matthew 7:1-2 (MSG)
Rather than receiving compliments and positive input you minimize it. You down play the affirmation or encouragement offered.
So speak encouraging words to one another. I Thessalonians 5:11a (MSG)
3. Creating Conflict
Conflict will never take you to the next level. Conflict is a wrestling match to determine who the biggest victim is in a relationship; an attempt to find fault.
Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure. 2 Corinthians 13:11 (MSG)
You know your worry is holding you back when you are stewing over things that you can’t do anything about. Worry is only useful when you can take immediate action and do something. Worry is the most common way people hold themselves back from experiencing a happy and fulfilling life. God tells us not to worry
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Philippians 4:6 (MSG)
5. Getting Sick or Hurt
You are overjoyed with how well things are going and suddenly you get sick or hurt and everything comes to a screeching halt. Not every sickness or injury is a static correction, but there is a significant connection between our thoughts and emotions and our physical health.
A sound mind makes for a robust body, but runaway emotions corrode the bones. Proverbs 14:30 (MSG)
Hiding important feelings or not sharing a significant truth with the right person. Both will limit the connection in the relationship.
Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Ephesians 4:25b (MSG)
7. Failing to Follow Through
Promising to do something and then failing to do it is a limiting behavior; doing things like not returning an e-mail, breaking a promise, or missing an important meeting.
Keep your word even when it costs you. Psalm 15:4b (MSG)
Each of these actions prevents you from feeling joy or appreciating the good things in your life. In order to expand your territory and fully walk in all that God has created you to be and do you must expand your capacity to enjoy the blessings He brings your way. Settle into the tension you feel when bumping up against your boundary and resist the urge to retreat.
Consider Jabez. His mother chose his name because he brought great pain. The perfect set up for feeling like a burden or perhaps flawed. In spite of that, he became one of the most important people in his family and specifically asked God to expand his territory, and God did! You can read about Jabez in I Chronicles 4:1-10.
It makes sense to limit your dog to your yard, however when it comes to you – God created you for more! Ready to break out of your self-imposed boundaries? Pay attention to when you are bumping into your boundaries and make the choice to not retreat. You will be stretched, feel uncomfortable, and feel weak. The good news is that Jesus tells us, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (MSG)
Which behaviors keep you from breaking through your invisible fence?