Saturday, July 3, 2010

Temptations and Boundaries

Lately I've been thinking about weaknesses and temptations. Many people, maybe all people, have their own weakness or temptation that they would almost certainly give in to under the right (or wrong) circumstances. So if you know what your big weakness is, do you take precautions to try to be sure you never reach the point that you cannot resist anymore?

It helps me to think about it in terms of alcohol. (Not my weakness, personally, but it's a familiar enough example that I think it will make sense to most people.) Suppose alcohol was my big temptation, and I found myself all alone in a room with a bottle of it. I still might be able to resist at that point. But suppose I allowed myself to inspect the bottle, touch it, open it. Suddenly it would be much harder to resist. And then if I poured some into a glass? Game over. If that was my weakness, and I let myself go so far as to pour it, could I actually continue to resist taking a sip? No one would ever have to know...

I've heard parents say that in setting boundaries for their children, sometimes they will actually set the boundary a few steps before their kids would ever reach that one thing that drives the parents particularly nuts. For example, you may not mind if your kids run and play loudly in the house, as long as they don't start jumping on the furniture-- but you know your kids well enough to know that once they start running and playing loudly in the house, jumping on the furniture is soon to follow. So rather than setting the boundary right on the edge of the thing you absolutely do not want (no jumping on the furniture), you may decide to set the boundary a few steps back (running and loud play need to happen outside).

But how often do we set these kinds of boundaries for ourselves? If I know what my big temptation or weakness is, do I allow myself to get right to the edge of it and then expect myself to somehow resist? Or do I set the boundary a few steps back, at something that may not seem like that big of a deal, but I know where it could lead me?

I think a lot of times people feel silly setting these kinds of boundaries for themselves because the boundaries seem excessive or ridiculous, especially to other people whose temptations are not the same. You won't go out with friends who are drinking? You won't be alone with the opposite sex? You installed a porn filter on your computer? But sometimes, in order to keep ourselves from reaching that big thing that tempts us, we have to take precautions.

Do you have a temptation or weakness that you're aware of? Have you put boundaries in place to help ensure that you won't reach the point where you can no longer resist?


  1. That concept for me is that if I don't buy the junk food, then it's not there at the house to tempt me to eat it. Or, if I don't let myself turn the TV on until I finish homework, then I won't be tempted to sit & watch a whole show. I have to take preventative methods because it is definitely hard for me to resist temptation.

  2. Junk food is definitely one of my weaknesses. I don't keep it in the house either.