As a teen I had no boundaries. My parents let me get my own subscription to Playboy before I was eighteen. I had no curfew. My moms’ only rule was to call and let her know where I was and to provide an ETA. Some might think this wonderful. They’d be wrong.
Up through college I tried working out my own personal guidelines. I’d found some anchors along the way but an anchor’s no good unless secured. I wandered a lot. I tried to figure out my career path without a counselor. I screwed up many a relationship. Pride and foolishness caused many a crash; spiritually, relationally and physically. I got nobody pregnant and I didn’t kill anybody (though I came stupidly close on both accounts). I didn’t get into drugs. God kept me from ruin.
Up through the 20’s I was everything but firmly planted. Boundaries are important. Principled living guides one’s life along a solid pathway. Psalm 1 puts it like this, “…He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” As I grew older I discovered key concepts to live by.
The Bible is the filter through which I find my parameters. It is the bedrock for every other tenet that I hold to. In that vein I have some nuggets which keep me on track:
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him,” which is John Pipers’ summation of all of scripture. “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for,” a saying which adorned my wall when I was a teen. A life truly lived means taking chances. “Let people feel the weight of who you are and let them deal with it,” an Eldredge quote—put simply---be yourself. Finally that principle taken from Jesus which is that we are to die to self and live for others.
I view my early years with considerable regret and some personal pain. Though there was considerable joy and richness of experience there were some serious mistakes whose ripples are still felt. Now I can run my questions and experiences through a grid that’s not all about me (and I always wish it were less about me). Now I have sound principles to securely guide my heart and my actions. A great deal of peace flows from that.
There is some wisdom in hammering out our own guiding principles. The caveat however is that any principle apart from God will eventually shipwreck us. Hammering out our own principles is good, ‘working out our salvation with trembling” is better.