Published: June 12, 2009
You must decide for yourself to whom and when you give access to your interior life. For years, you have permitted others to walk in and out of your life according to their needs and desires. Thus you were no longer master in your own house, and you felt increasingly used. So, too, you quickly became tired, irritated, angry and resentful.
Think of a medieval castle surrounded by a moat. The drawbridge is the only access to the interior of the castle. The lord of the castle must have the power to decide when to draw the bridge and when to let it down. Without such power, he can become the victim of enemies, strangers, and wanderers. He will never feel at peace in his own castle.
It is important for you to control your own drawbridge. There must be times when you keep your bridge drawn and have the opportunity to be alone, or with those to whom you feel close. Never allow yourself to become public property where anyone can walk in and out at will. You might think you are being generous to anyone who wants to enter or leave, but you will soon find yourself losing your soul.
When you claim for yourself the power over your drawbridge, you will discover new joy and peace in your heart and find yourself able to share that joy and peace with others.
-Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love
At first when I read this, I couldn’t decide if I was convicted or turned off.
“But I want my life to be open to everyone.”
Alas, as I thought about it more, I realize he didn’t say “never lower the drawbridge and stay safely inside your castle.” Instead, Nouwen enforces the importance of emotional boundaries. Boundaries which need to be in tact to make you strong so you can accomplish your unique, global purpose. Jesus did it in Luke 4.
I think if we look at his context, maybe we can feel a bit more free to occasionally retreat and replenish.
How do you do at controlling the drawbridge? Do you agree or disagree with what Nouwen is saying?
Anne Jackson serves on staff at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Her articles have been published in a variety of print and online magazines, and her blog, Flowerdust.net, is ranked as one of the top blogs in Christian Leadership with hundreds of thousands of pageviews a month. She is an advocate for Compassion International, a down-to-earth communicator, and an all around dreamer. Anne has an unwavering passion to see the Church grow, thrive, and fulfill its purpose. Her book Mad Church Disease (Zondervan), February 2009.
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