Before we moved to Colorado Springs, we were blessed to take a trip and explore the area. While there, we ventured up the back of the mountain to the top of Pikes Peak. It was a glorious drive. Breathtaking and admittedly, a little unnerving. The higher we went, the narrower the road, or so it seemed. The edge on the passenger side seemed to draw closer and closer to me. At some points along the twisty drive there was no guardrail between me and the cliff’s edge.
I loved looking far out into the distant land and see what I could see. There were other moments where I could barely look out at all because all I could see was the edge. It was a cliff and there was almost no shoulder. Definitely no room for error. I counted on my husband’s driving ability and prayed that the drivers coming down the opposite direction were paying careful attention to detail.
I didn’t think much of it on the way up other than, “Wow!! I can’t believe there are no guardrails.” Other than than, it was what it was and we had a great time while at the top of the mountain. You could see so far. There was the many mountain tops, the city below and then the plains off in the distance. Many people came and went. We took our time and enjoyed exploring what we could until it was time to head down.
I felt a little better about the drive down since we were now on the inside track of the road. I watched the cars on both sides, those now coming up and those who were going down. We pulled over to get a quick run in some snow. We had been in California for many years and our daughter had never, in her memory, touched any snow before. Silly fun.
We drove a little farther. There was a safety check point and a good size gift shop was there too. We stopped and I ran in real quick figuring I wouldn’t be back up there again for a while. As I looked around for one more thing something caught my eye. There was one of those penny squishing machines. You know the ones. You put in fifty-one cents and you have your choice of four different imprints that can be put onto a penny. We regularly do this as a fun keepsake of our trips and adventures. I have bunches of them from over the years. Zoos, aquariums, tourist areas we have visited and other locations that I have taken my kids. So of course, I had to check this one out, I mean, it was Pikes Peak you know.
As I looked at the options there were two of them that really stood out to me especially given my concerns of the road on our way up. These two said, “Real women don’t need guardrails!” The other being the same, but saying, “Real Men.” All of a sudden I felt super irritated. Why didn’t I need a guardrail? What’s the point in that? I certainly didn’t want to fall off the edge.
Obviously, the coin imprint was just a fun way to say, “Hey, I made it up the big mountain drive and part of it had no guardrail.” Too long to put easily on a squished penny for sure. But to me, this was a picture of the world. This was a little statement about getting so close to the edge of trouble and hoping that a big wind didn’t come by and blow you over. I felt irritated because to me, this saying was a way of telling people that taking these kinds of risks was a great idea. Fear not, the world says. Nothing bad is going to happen to you…until it does.
I have heard countless stories of people not having any life guardrails in place and they have found themselves in a world of mess and having taken countless life ambulance rides.
There is an analogy I have heard through the years in ministry. It seems we live life with an “ambulance” sort of mentality rather that building guardrails for safety. We go along doing whatever we want to do until something goes awry. When it does, we call in the “crisis ambulance”. (Not necessarily a literal ambulance, but I guess in some situations it could be.) We make choices that lead to an unplanned pregnancy and then the knee jerk emotional and physical reactions to deal with that reality. There is the party person trying to impress who blacks out from drinking too much, there’s the overdose, the horrible arguments, the isolation, the abuse, the marriages that never should have been. We are searching for something in relationships that is so deep, but with no guardrails up, we end up needing the ambulance.
That’s exactly what happened to me. I had a couple tiny guardrails growing up when it came to relationships, guys and sex. But the lines were blurry and often as risky as “just don’t get caught”. My search was to be loved, to be noticed and accepted. Without having direction, the world was my model. My guardrails were not in solid ground and often I had the “go with the flow” mentality. When it came to guys, I knew of some boundaries that could be placed, but the world shouted at me that a “real woman” doesn’t need these. Love doesn’t need boundaries. So many of them I just flat out ignored and there were plenty of others that I didn’t realize would have been a good idea. No fear. No consequences. I had no longterm vision and I got hurt over and over in relationships. I put myself at risk mentally, physically and emotionally. My choices in high school got me to an unplanned pregnancy my senior year, a guy who wasn’t willing or able to commit, and a heart that was broken because I felt unloved. That was only one of the early chapters in my search for love, and at that moment, all I wanted was the “fix it ambulance” to rescue me.
What if at that moment, I had put up guardrails? What if I had learned that I would never find what I was looking for in a relationship with a person, but in a relationship with a Savior? Sure, I prayed. “God, don’t let me really be pregnant.” “God, make this guy see that I am worthy.” “God, help me!” But I wasn’t asking the right questions, and I wasn’t looking in the right direction. It was still all about me. My image and what I thought was my freedom.
So I kept going, hoping I wouldn’t need an ambulance like that again. Birth control, that will fix it. A quick marriage, that ought to do the trick. But no. No guardrails for my heart or my mind. No listening to those who mattered most to me. No deep true search for God. Racing down the road of life until I needed an ambulance again.
Until one day, I realized Who I had been searching for. I had heard His voice in my heart, but I ran from Him. Finally, when I was done listening to the world and it’s enticing whispers of, “You don’t need any guardrails,” I saw clearly where I was and how I had gotten there by those lies. I knew for sure I wanted a relationship that was meant to be and that would last. Jesus had captured my heart.
He taught me about His guardrails, boundaries, to put up in my life. I still had to deal with the consequences from choices I had already made, but through the process redemption was happening in the silent work of God. The guardrails were taking hold and they were in solid ground, on the Rock, on Jesus.
Now I know I am not the only one to wish in hindsight that I had some boundaries growing up, or even in my young adult life. Many of you too wish that you had learned this so much sooner. Not even just learned it, but accepted, taken it as truth and lived it out. I have heard countless stories of people not having any life guardrails in place and they have found themselves in a world of mess and having taken countless life ambulance rides. You feel beat up, confused and alone, but you keep going on because the world says you can handle it. You’re a real woman, a real man, and you don’t need a guardrail. Boundaries are for sissies who can’t handle living for themselves.
That’s just it! We aren’t living for ourselves. We have been made by a Creator with a purpose and He is so in love with us that He died for us. Jesus is our ultimate authority and there are boundaries that He has given us so that we don’t need the ambulance ever again. That does’t mean that you won’t have struggles or trials, but you will have a security system in place so that when you do fall, the recovery is that much quicker and you will have a certainty that God is with you and will never leave you.
So what would have been good boundaries to have? What choices may have spared me the heartache and the pain through the years?
Here are a few relationship guardrails for you to consider. Some will be obvious and hopefully others will give you something to think about. Not an exhaustive list.
- Sex (and sexual activity) should be saved for marriage. Biblically, we are to keep sex sacred for marriage. Physically there are risks too, but possibly more so are the mental and emotional consequences that come later. We have to consider these as something to be guarded.
- Dating may be best left until after high school, or until a committed, possibly lifelong marriage relationship is an option. Early relationships often lead to much unnecessary drama and can take us away from our intended focus and goals.
- Pray about your relationships. What are you looking for? In a friend? In a dating/courting relationship? Is this something that you can honor God with?
- Take. Your. Time. I cannot tell you how many people, myself included, entered a relationship full steam ahead without really taking time to get to know the person. Look around you at their life. You learn so much just by taking time and watching the truth unveil itself.
- Listen to those who matter to you. In addition to biblical guardrails, there are people in your life who love you and they definitely will see things that your lovestruck eyes do not. Hear them and do not harden you hearts towards their counsel. God gives us these people as protection and they are part of our guardrail system.
- Anything done in secret is not a good idea. The Bible tells us to “walk in the light as He is in the light” so that we can “have fellowship with one another”. If we want to protect ourselves and our relationships, with God and others, things should be able to be out in the open.
- Even if you have lived the “ambulance” mentality up to this point, you can put guardrails in place now. It is never too late!
- It is important to have goals set for yourself; schooling, job, relationships with others and with God. Your relationships should enhance your life and support you in the goals you have set.
- Who you are is not based on your having ever had a date or not. Remember, you are loved enough for God to send His son to save you by physically dying for you. Your identity is in Him and if you aren’t quite sure what that means or what that looks like start asking. Head to church. Join a Bible study or a home group. Get plugged in and don’t try to do this on your own. God has a support team just waiting for you!
- Real women (and real men) DO need guardrails. It is not a weakness and it leads to healthier, happier and fuller relationships and marriages.
For more thoughts or if you have a great story to tell, send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org