One night last week, before falling asleep I saw a “movie scene” flash in my mind’s eye. I’m pretty sure it was my mind’s combination of a post I read, a book I’ve been reading (Cancel the Culture), my thoughts about boundaries, and a sermon I heard.
The scene: A person was walking on a narrow path. The path was bordered by fences on both sides. Beyond the fences people were involved in many activities. A skateboarder appeared in the scene, weaving in and out among the crowd. While I could see some people, others were just shadowy figures in the blackness further away from the fences. I could hear them, laughing and carrying on, but I couldn’t see them. The people I could see were partying—drinking, shooting up drugs, doing activities illegal, immoral, and unethical—anything you could imagine. The people beyond the fences hollered out to the walker. Some people invited the person to join the partying; other people mocked the person for not joining them, calling the walker “old-fashioned” and hurling insults. But the walker kept on the path, not paying any attention to the commotion of the world.
For me, the fences are boundaries I need to keep to live and write the best I can. If I engage in relationships or activities I know are outside of God’s will for me, I will suffer, and eventually that will have an affect on the writing I produce. The boundaries also involve what I read, listen to, and watch; I believe the words I read, the music I listen to, and the movies, tv, or videos I watch affect my mind. They go in there, and tend to stick, especially the negative stuff. I need a certain degree of peace of mind to do creative work, even to want to do creative work, so I need to keep those boundaries intact. The path means I pay attention to my writing, not what anyone else is writing. I keep focused on the path. I may ask for help; I take online classes in writing, but I don’t need to find out the success some other writer is enjoying. The people on the other side of the fences represent temptations to envy others’ success, or the voices of the world or in my mind, telling me things I know I need to ignore.
Besides the application specifically for me, I see another application, one for Christians and people in general to consider. Again, I see the fences as boundaries for guidance and protection; the people outside the fences represent the world’s temptations. We live in a time when the boundaries are cast aside by the world and even by some Christians, but we suffer when we ignore God’s boundaries. He put them there not to “cramp our style”, but to give us the greatest amount of joy, happiness and peace possible this side of heaven, with the least amount of heartbreak. Isn’t that something worth thinking about?