Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beyond Boundaries by Dr. John Townsend

Sometimes you think you have to settle for less in your relationships. “If you don't want to settle in your relational life, this book is for you,” says author Dr. John Townsend. You are meant to have deep, meaningful and positive relationships.
Cloud and Townsend wrote Boundaries two decades ago to help people in troubled relationships. Now Townsend wants to help you identify and grow from whatever went wrong in the relationship. He wants to help you determine if someone is worthy of your trust again.
In part 1 of the book we see how trust is broken in the first place, what happens to the person on the receiving end and to the relationship. We see the role of healthy boundaries and what happens when we feel the desire for a new relationship or try again with the present one.
People in healthy relationships live longer and have fewer health issues. We are also made for deep relationships. Trust is essential. It is freeing. Yet we may be vulnerable to deception. When it happens, we lose trust. Hurt, guilt and withdrawal result.
Boundaries and what they accomplish are reviewed. Often a boundary will cause the reemergence of desire. Townsend explains healthy and unhealthy responses to such desires.
Part 2 addresses knowing when your ready to open up again.
Relational wounds need to heal so we can carry on with life again. Friends help. Counseling may be necessary. Townsend helps us review the painful relationship and gain insight from it. He writes, “My goal for you is that you will be enlightened and empowered to choose people who are both good and good for you.”
Grieving is essential for moving on. “Grief is what enables you to fully let go. It frees you, it clears your mind, and it helps heal the injuries. You must grieve what was. You must grieve it well and thoroughly before you are ready to go beyond boundaries into new intimacy.” He identifies six components for grieving a lost relationship.
Townsend notes that one aspect of growth that is necessary is fulfilling some of your needs yourself. He distinguishes friendships and romantic relationships. He reviews types of boundaries. Defining boundaries identify who we are never to be given up. Protective boundaries should sooner or later be given up. He speaks of risks and determining which should be taken.
He helps you to know when the other person is ready by identifying several characteristics the other must show. (These characteristics of the “other” person are really characteristics any healthy person should have.) “...[M]oving beyond boundaries requires a commitment from both people.” He clarifies the role of passion and how to evaluate a relationship, whether it is healthy or not.
Townsend has a chapter on those who want to give an existing relationship a second chance. “You need to see evidence of authentic transformation in order to move beyond boundaries with someone who has hurt you.” Such evidence includes confession, ownership, and remorse. He also goes through various communication techniques, giving tips to make it over the “speed bumps.”
Townsend gives several examples of actual people working through the principles he presents.
All of this is based on God as One who restores relationships and Himself experiences the pain of doing so.
Townsend's desire, “May you find the life that God intended for your journey.”

If you have been hurt by relationships in the past but are now ready to venture into that world again, this is a book you must read.

Zondervan, 272 pages.

I received an egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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