“Good fences make good neighbors,” Robert Frost.

A fence, by definition, saves and protects the stuff you want while keeping the unwanted stuff out.  I learned from the book, Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend that you should build a fence around your heart. Don’t mistake the barrier for a wall. We talked about walls last week. We are talking about a fence. Something that keeps the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. 

Spiritual or moral beliefs comprise almost all of our fences. It could be an amalgamation of bits and pieces of conversations or opinions that others have shared or imposed upon you over the years. Mom and Dad teach you a set of values. Your peers show you a set of behaviors, your church, your teachers,  all these people, and experiences create your fence. One day you wake up and realize that your fence is a mish-mosh of disparate pickets. A wide, tall middle school picket defines “cool,” a white short pointy church picket defines morality, sleek posts of professionalism define us as adults.

As we develop spiritually, we begin to refine the fence. Replacing the pickets that we borrowed (or were forced) into our fence with ideologies that feels more authentic.

All fences need a gate. We need a way to let out the stuff that no longer serves us. It could be a relationship, a job, a compulsive behavior, a snarky habit, an addiction. Anything that doesn’t align with our highest values goes right out the gate. The departure makes room for new relationships and behaviors that align with our beliefs and values. Ain’t that grand? It’s like Marie Kondo came in and tidied up our hearts. 

Without the Values and Belief Fence, our hearts begin to resemble a flophouse, where anyone and anything goes. And that’s not ok. No one wants a dirty heart. We don’t want our emotions to be tossed about by the gunk floating in through the media

Being open is good. Having a healthy value system with tolerance for others’ is even more important. Open the gate, yes, but build a fence first.

Just for today

I’ll examine what kind of fence or boundary is around my heart. If I look closely, I can see where my world view originates. I can put this view to the test, “Is this true for me today?” And if it’s not, I can replace that belief with something more authentic to who I am becoming.


God, help me to know who I am at my core. Show me who you created me to be. Clear my heart of all the old stories that aren’t what you planned for me. Grant me clarity and vision and the courage to let go of what was never meant for me in the first place.

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