Hidden in my heart: Boundary lines

The most important lesson I learned in life, I learned in PE class.  My Christian college required actual for-credit PE classes (that did not transfer.)  The purpose was something like being a good steward of your mind and body by learning to be active early in life. The first semester of my sophomore year, I took self-defense class for 1 credit.  We learned  how to stay aware walking down the street, how to best attack the eyes and testicles, and even how to change a tire.  One afternoon, sitting on the floor of the gym with my classmates for story time, I learned two definitions that changed everything for me: rape and consent.  Before that moment, I had no vocabulary for what happened to me about six months before.  Abstinence-only education had taught me nothing about consent.  I knew the concept of how to say no to tainted purity but nothing like “yes I want to” or “no I don’t.”

During this particular semester, I was subconsciously seeking out safe places to exist off campus.  One was a Presbyterian church that would shuttle car-less students to Sunday services then provide a home cooked meal for us at a rotating church member’s home. Another was an exclusive bible study.  I signed up for a weekly small group at the home of our school’s assistant chaplain.  That hour collectively meditating on scripture was an escape from the Christian campus existence.  The passage that I remember us diving into most deeply was this one:


“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” – Psalm 16:6

Since that time, it has continued to resonate with me.  I think those boundary lines were starting to impact me.  I used to view boundaries in a negative light, even beyond my poor understanding of bodily autonomy.  I would always forgive, always give more, and always sacrifice for what I believed to be the good of the kingdom.  I would chide myself and beg forgiveness for not being willing to give up more and be more “broken” for a Christ-like transformation.

I had a deep spiritual connection to a personal Jesus who I would never say no to.  My stream-of-conscious dialog with him made it so I was never alone. It took years, but I slowly built up boundary lines to make my personal space more pleasant.