Step into this space.
Take a deep breath.
And now, let’s begin.
Last week, we defined boundaries. Now that we know what they are, we can discuss the process of creating real boundaries, and the necessary grit it takes to keep them intact.
Grit. What a word. Oh, how I love this word. Let’s define it:
Grit: courage and resolve; strength of character.
You want boundaries? Get steady to sweat. Get ready to persevere and find the courage to keep going even when it’s raining, and the road is muddy, and your boots are ripping.
Grit is key.
Boundaries are not arbitrary rules. Those will fail, and they will fail quick. Boundaries are meant to be maintained and upheld. Grit is the glue that keeps real boundaries in place.
Boundaries entail a set of deeply rooted values. Do you know what you value? Do you stick to the things you value? No? Expect your boundaries to fail.
I value Shabbat. That means sunset to sunset, Friday to Saturday night, I maintain a boundary.
I value time with my family. That means that after work, my phone is off or in another room, in order to give me the space to concentrate on the people I love. Another boundary.
I value family purity. That means that I adhere to the boundaries up kept by thousands of Jewish women before me. An epic boundary.
Is it easy? No. Nothing in life is easy, my dears.
Do you know what the Chassidic keyword for boundaries and grit is?
אתכפיא, Iskafya. It’s Aramaic, and is defined as ‘holding back’ or ‘refraining.’ I like thinking as Iskafya as self control. This word holds the key to understanding everything, as does its companion word, התהפכה, Esapcha—Hebrew for “turned over.” To turn over something is to change or transform it.
Transformation occurs when you turn over or reshape your thinking. What’s the key to reshaping our thinking?
I was the queen of snapping boundaries—and myself!— in the early years of this practice. I say “this practice” because life is a practice! What I know now that I didn’t know then is that boundaries require grit. Transformation requires restraint. It’s a two-deal package
You will be tested. Do you have the grit and guts to hold back—Iskafya—and refrain from jumping into old habits? Do you have the strength and perseverance to transform your way of thinking—Esapcha—and turn it over?
Maybe you don’t yet, but I believe in you. You can do it.
Your boundaries need to be real, they need to be grounded, and they need to correlate with your values. Every time they are tested, practice standing your ground. Practice restraint, and watch for the transformation.
Mitzvot are boundaries. They take practice to uphold. Started keeping kosher recently? You will be tested. Is covering your hair after marriage new to you? You will be tested. These tests require grit—holding your ground and leaning into the uncomfortability of change.
The effort is worth it!
Start. Small. Say it with me: Start. Small. Don’t jump from a boundaryless existence to FULL ON, full-stop boundaries. It won’t work. The burn out will eat you. You don’t want that. You want the middle path.
Take on one boundary. Put your phone away during dinner. Light Shabbat candles. Say No. Say Yes. Whatever. Pick one thing, stick to it, and watch your life change.
Thanks for sitting in this with me, and yourself. You got this.
You are on your way to the middle path.