Invasions are hardly ever welcome. When our lives are invaded, there’s always the feeling of being violated. Harassed. Exploited, ravaged, or taken advantage of.
The invasion can come as a surprise attack or a creeping, stealthy take-over that one didn’t see coming. But whatever methods are employed, invasion is a brutal thing. Always a rude awakening.
Many times we willingly let ourselves be invaded for happy reasons—like when we allow a new baby to invade our lives. Our lifestyle, looks, wardrobe, finances, schedules, vocabulary, etc. are changed drastically or totally demolished. We go around like zombies.
Romance is temporarily (we hope!) thrown out the window. Hormones go out of whack.
And sleep-deprived, beleaguered moms—in quiet rage—wonder why they ever allowed themselves to be yanked out of Singles Paradise! Yes. All of a sudden, Singlehood becomes Paradise Lost. Imagine how that feels like when multiplied by how many children one has!
Of course, with marriage, all sorts of other invasions can happen: in-laws asking you to do errands for them; in-laws demanding your presence on Sundays, birthdays, and any occasion they can think of; in-laws meddling with your finances; in-laws asking favors for their friends; in-laws borrowing everything they can, including your clothes and clever anecdotes.
Invasion of privacy is another thing altogether.
Friends, workmates, bosses—they can all invade our space more than family can. Well, they easily do that when they sense that we have no boundaries.
If there’s a buzz word that I’m profoundly grateful for in my adulthood, it’s “boundaries.” Because as a person who grew up away from family, that’s how I survived: I put up strong boundaries. Early on, I defined my space. I said No when I didn’t agree, didn’t want to do something, didn’t want to be used or pushed or bullied. Those boundaries kept me whole, stable, and content.
Thank you, Dr. Henry Cloud, for teaching us that we need to set our boundaries—to keep the good in, and the bad out. After people read Dr. Cloud’s book and applied it, it was quite a relief to see them finally stop being pushovers. It was quite a pleasant jolt to watch some of my friends say No. They finally learned that saying “No”—at the right time and for the right reasons—builds their self-worth, galvanizes their dignity, and ironically earns people’s respect. It’s not rude or selfish to say no. It just helps us fend off invasions.
If we don’t want our personal space to be invaded, the first thing that we have to conquer is fear. Fear of being ostracized. Fear of the Boss. Fear of losing someone’s love (or what masquerades as such). Fear of rejection. Fear of being lonely or alone. Fear of losing one’s crutch or security blanket. Fear of being exposed or found out. Fear of poverty. Fear of being Single Forever. Fear of being dumped. Fear of Scandal. Fear of losing one’s position or power. Fear of being left out.
So many fears. So many weak spots. So many imagined horrors. So many triggers that can make us crack or cave in. So we allow ourselves to be invaded.
If you’re besieged by any kind of invasion in your life, big or small—you need to ask yourself: what’s at the root of all this? Why in the world are you allowing it? What are you so scared of? Why are you allowing this travesty in your life—and at what cost?
Do you think that allowing yourself to be used, abused, pushed around, bullied, exploited, tyrannized, disrespected, ignored, etc. will actually stop bad things from happening to you? Is this really the solution? Will this erase all your fears? Will this give you a good life one day?
I’m sure it’s not the answer. Allowing yourself to be invaded is not the answer. Self-abasement is never the answer. It’s a weak, sinful, man-made strategy that makes invasions happen—because we allow them to happen.
The second step is to take responsibility.
All you have to do is say No. Stop. I don’t want this anymore. Then walk away. And start a new life of dignity and freedom.
In your life, only God should call the shots.