Some time ago, I found myself thinking about what motivates the decisions we make in life. There are numerous perceived and imperceptible influences that guide us in our decisions. Some are healthy. Others are not.
For example, you may have made decisions about where to make your home and your living out of a desire to please others, even those close to you. You may have taken on burdens simply because you were afraid that if you declined—a boundary mechanism—you would lose favor with somebody. And then you live with regret and varied degrees of toxic self-disdain and recrimination.
Seven years ago, a pastoral colleague of mine shared something with me over lunch. He told me that the most important book he’d ever read, outside of the Bible, was Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. In fact, he refused to marry any couple who came to him for premarital counseling and would not read the book, a requirement for him to solemnize the nuptials. Yes, it’s that important.
Long and short of the message of Boundaries is this: The most important boundary marker you have at your disposal is the word no. You simply have to use it.
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and a little ornery; maybe because I’ve hit the half century mark, complete with health concerns; but I now realize that the person I have to live with until I die—every waking and unconscious moment—is me. Christian Fahey. And when, to paraphrase Shakespeare, I’m not true to myself…I don’t walk in integrity…I’m not true to my calling, my wiring, my passions for life and vocation, I have to live with me. My conscience. My memories. My misgivings.
All of a sudden, pleasing other people at the expense of doing what I know is right and valid seems hollow indeed. Life’s too short to be somebody else.
So here’s to moving forward, living in such a way that minimizes regrets and self-doubt. Here’s to being true to the God-given vision for yours and my life. Here’s to being true to oneself.
And it will surely follow that we’ll all be more true to others.