Oct 112017 7 Responses

The Danger of Blurred Lines

Humanity functions better with clear boundaries. Years ago researchers studied school children playing on a playground. When a fence wasn’t present, the kids played very close to the playground equipment and close to the school building. Yet when a fence was placed around the schoolyard, kids spread out. They played all over the yard. The boundary didn’t restrict them, it freed them. It didn’t limit their space, it expanded it.

We often view boundaries in the wrong way. Bent on having our freedom, we reject boundaries as things that will limit us. What we fail to see is that humanity needs boundaries in order to fully flourish. We need the security and definition which a boundary brings in order to expand to our greatest potential.

One of the greatest causes of exhaustion, isolation, and distraction over the last several decades has been the blurring of more traditional lines. Some boundaries that humans have long operated under have been erased. While these blurred lines have had some positive ramifications, we often overlook the negative consequences these changes have brought. (See: An Ancient Cure for Stress and Anxiety)

Some of these boundaries should be brought back. While we should not veer toward legalism, it would be wise to allow these boundaries to influence our daily lives, especially how work lives.

4 Boundaries We Should Resurrect

1. Night/Day. There was a time in which the work day had a very clear beginning and end. Sunrise and sunset is one of the great rhythms of life. Before electricity, darkness demanded that all work cease. Clearly, that is no longer the case. Work is ever present in our lives and the greatest cost of work encroaching into all hours is the loss of sleep. Our minds and bodies need time to process and recover. Re-embracing the day/night divide can be a wise way to give our bodies the space needed to recover so that they can perform at their very best. Maybe you have to work some nights, but pick some times when you will not. Have a cut off time that you simply won’t work past. Let the sunset be a reminder to you that you need to rest.

2. Work/Home. As the day’s work has crept into the night, so too, work itself has crept into the home. There was a time in which work stayed at work. Now it tags along on the ride home and many employers don’t just allow but actually expect their employees to work while at home. This blurred line helps neither work nor home. The detriment to the family is obvious. While work isn’t solely to blame for the breakdown of many families, it has played a contributing role. Yet what is often overlooked is that working more hours rarely empowers us to accomplish more work. The vanishing boundary between work and home and deceived many people into doing less work. Believing they never stop working, they actually accomplish far less than if they simply worked at work and refused to work at home. This boundary doesn’t have to be set in stone, but we would likely accomplish more and love better if we better protected our home from work. Pick some times when work is off limits. Turn your phone off at dinner time and eat as a family. Schedule days where you will do no work in order to remind yourself and your family that work doesn’t define you. Find ways to leave more work at the office rather than bringing it home.

3. Public/Private. Of the four divides, this is the one still most prevalent, but it is only present in one way. It’s the general expectation of many today that faith should be kept private. Everything else is open for public consumption, but faith is not seen as logical and therefore should remain as a private, personal choice. (For more, see: God Isn’t Just the Man Upstairs) While faith is never simply a private affair, many things should be. Social media has empowered humanity to share every thought and secret. Few things seem to be off-limits. Yet we would do well to regain some semblance of modesty and propriety. Some things should remain private. Don’t blast on social media your love for your wife, instead tell her as you look her in the eye. Don’t air every family secret on Facebook,  but rather work through your issues with the help of a professional. Don’t blab every detail of your private life to your co-workers; keep some things just to yourself. By redrawing the public/private line, you will better value and experience both.

4. Sacred/Secular. Getting rid of the sacred/secular divide can be positive. It’s false to think that God does not inhabit all areas of our lives. Yet one negative drawback of blurring this line is that nothing is sacred anymore. It is useful to set aside some places, times, and traditions as sacred. It doesn’t make the secular void of God’s presence, but it does recognize the uniqueness of certain things. Honor some spaces/places as sacred. Protect certain days as holy. Value specific traditions or practices as ways to better connect with God. Reject they hypocrisy that can come with the sacred/secular divide but do not completely make everything void of the sacred.

None of these boundaries are mandatory for a meaningful life, yet all four are likely better for us than we would like to admit. A good boundary doesn’t limit our joy, it empowers it. Find ways to embrace these lines and apply them to your life.

Of these 4, which do you believe could be most useful in your life?

What’s a 5th boundary we could recreate?

7 Responses to The Danger of Blurred Lines
  1. Diana Reply

    Present and future. Some people focus so much on the future, they miss the blessings of today. Others are so short term, they don’t get the future they could have had.

  2. Susan Reply

    Along with work/home is school/home. Kids are given so much homework, sports, clubs, etc that it really interferes with family time I.e. Dinner table

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      So very true, Susan. Despite the fact that hardly any scientific research shows homework to be an effective tool.

  3. Lily Reply

    Love / lust.
    Our society has become comvinced that they are one and the same. it’s increasingly difficult for people to differenciate between the desires of the heart and the desires of their loins. Our culture has traded images for interactions and rendered commitment as obsolete.

  4. Jennifer Barker Reply

    This may seem simple, but a clear delineation between right and wrong has declined as relativism has increased. It seems like our society (or at least the media’s portrayal) sees most issues as gray area. A white lie isnt a lie. Cheating in sports, politics, etc. is acceptable as long as no one gets hurt.

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