by Jessica Glasner

Imagine a river. A powerful river… I mean POWERFUL… Like the Yenisey, the Mississippi, the Brahmaputra, or the Yangtze sort of powerful. These rivers are thousands of miles long and discharge millions of gallons of water into various oceans per second. The energy they produce through hydroelectric power is up to 800 times more powerful than the energy generated from the wind. 

Now, what happens when such a river overflows its banks?

I’ll tell you. The water rushes out, losing speed, direction, and purpose,  resulting in destruction, loss, and finally, a muddy (often tragic) mess. (In 1887, when the Yellow River overflowed its banks, approximately 2,000,000 people died.)

Lesson: It is important for a river to have strong banks.

You are just as powerful as any of those rivers I listed above. 

And your banks are your boundaries.

The stronger your boundaries, the more force you have, the faster you race towards your goal. The weaker your boundaries, the easier it will be for you to reach capacity and spill over the edge, lose speed, direction, and purpose, and wreak havoc on those around you and what you have spent years building. 

So, how do we shore up our banks? How do we protect and direct our force so it reaches the target? How do we prevent our water from spilling over and cause waste and destruction?

Over the past few months, I’ve had to learn to shore up my banks drastically. Rising waters led to a couple of devastating floods that I don’t want repeated, God willing, ever. So in the process  of rebuilding my boundaries, here is what I learned:

  1. Save your energy for what matters. (Mind-numbing media and news-streams, I’m looking at you!) The fastest way to break down your banks is to allow yourself to be distracted and redirected towards worthless things that have nothing to do with you or things that don’t help you grow as a person.
  2. Stay focused on the goal. If a new prospect or idea waves at you from the sidelines that will pull you away from where you should be going (no matter how attractive that idea might be), ignore it, and press on! Go with the flow God has given you, not a flow someone else wants to give you. There is only one flow that matters, and that is His.
  3. Saying “no” with kindness and politeness doesn’t offend anyone. Most people are very understanding and are willing to wait until you have the capacity to do whatever it is they need you to do. If they can’t wait, there is someone else who can help them. Shoring up your banks is more important than adding another event, meeting, or what-have-you.  Believe me when I say you can’t do everything. You can’t. You can only do what God has given you to do. Everything else is extra and (I’m stating the obvious) not from God. (If you’re not sure what God has asked you to do, ask Him to show you. If you aren’t hearing anything, go back to the last thing He told you to do, and do that.)
  4. This one is pretty basic: get adequate rest and sleep. Nothing breaks down your banks like tiredness and bad nutrition and a lack of fresh air and exercise.
  5. Finally, and this is the main one, do not, I repeat, do NOT, lose your connection with your source, i.e, the Holy Spirit. 

Now, when the rain comes, you will rise to the occasion, but you will not overflow. Your waters will stay clear and clean. The communities you touch will remain on your shores, undamaged, benefiting from your strength. You will move forward, with strength and dignity.

The crazy thing is, when you strengthen your boundaries, you increase your capacity for more. (That’s right: saying “no” to the wrong thing means you have room to say “yes” to the right thing.) But that is a lesson for another time.

For now, let me encourage you to take this time and shore up banks before the next storm surge. You are the only one with the ability to set and strengthen your boundaries. Only you have the ability to decide if you will stay on your course to reach your goal, or if you will overflow into the mud. Be the river whose streams make glad the City of God.

He is in the midst of her, and she will not be moved. He will help her when the morning dawns.

Psalms 46:4-6