One of the Most Important Things You Could Do – I’ve shared my experience in dating and failure along the way on this website before and you can read that here. In fact, if you haven’t, please do because you’ll read a whole lot about what not to do when dating!
One thing I learned in my single years in the midst of the failure was the importance of establishing guardrails. These are boundaries you set in place to protect you from straying off the path and getting hurt.
When I was young I was told not to do a lot of things; a list of don’ts to follow. Never have sex…never party…never compromise. But I never really learned what it meant to establish healthy, practical boundaries to protect me from going to those “don’ts.” It wasn’t anyone’s fault either; in fact, I didn’t even think to do this and I have no one to blame but myself.
Guardrails are important because they protect you. When you’re driving late at night and taking those curves in the dark, those guardrails are a safety precaution. Without them there to mark the way and keep you on the road, you’re in danger.
You need them in life too. Establishing guardrails keeps you on a safe path away from evil, which leads to nothing but death. Putting them in place keeps you from wandering off track and engaging in what’s unhealthy.
So, how do you establish a guardrail? What does that look like? Here are a few tips to help:
1. Identify Your Areas of Weakness
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24
First, you must identify your areas of weakness. Honest reflection is important and without it you might miss where your weakness lies. Set aside some time with God and ask Him to examine your heart; to bring to the surface anything that might be a struggle for you. Once you can identify where you struggle the most you’ll be able to establish how to avoid going there.
2. Make a List
“Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life. ‘Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.’” Ezekiel 18:27-28
Now that you know where your weaknesses are it’s time to brainstorm some ways you can avoid pitfalls. Make a list of your weaknesses or potential problem areas. Under each make a list of things you can do to protect yourself. No matter how much you dislike the guardrail or how inconvenient it might be, put it down.
For example, if you struggle with physical boundaries you probably need to make sure you’re never in a room alone with someone you’re tempted to go too far with. If you struggle with commitment you probably need to not date for a while and work through why that might be. Or if anger is your stronghold, go through some counseling.
Guardrails aren’t meant to be convenient; they are meant to be a protection. Avoiding sin must have a do-whatever-it-takes attitude! Although your temptation is not the same as sinning, the principle in Ezekiel still stands. Examine your weaknesses and turn towards righteousness.
3. Establish the Guardrails
“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17
Once you’ve identified your weaknesses and made a list of how to avoid them, it’s time to start implementing them. It’s one thing to know what to do and a completely other thing to actually do it. If you know what to do and don’t do it, that’s a dangerous place to be.
If you want to flourish in life it means protecting yourself. There’s freedom in obedience!
4. Stick With It
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23
It’s a fact the enemy doesn’t want you to flourish; he doesn’t want you to stick to these guardrails. He’ll do whatever it takes to wear you down, discourage you, and get you to give up.
Take up your guard, put on the armor of God, and prepare to watch over yourself with due diligence. Stay true to the path of righteousness and life will flow abundantly through you.
I know this isn’t the most interesting topic. And I know it’s not the quick fix you may have been hoping for. But take it from–from someone who fell far–the vibrancy of your life depends on this very principle. Implement the guardrails and flourish in the freedom of protection.
Photo By: Christopher Sessums