The Hoola Hoop Principle

When I was a child (hope I don’t lose you with that phrase) I had a bright pink hoola hoop, a large plastic ring that you attempt to keep spinning around your waist, neck, arm or leg as long as possible.  Only one person could fit inside a hoola hoop so my sister had her own.  Hers was blue.  We had contests on the driveway to see who could keep their hoola hoop up and going the longest.

Recently I was talking to a friend about some concerns for a daughter of mine, and she said, “Isn’t she married?”  Yes was my reply.  “Then she’s not in your hoola hoop.”  Excuse me?  “She not in your hoola hoop!  Who is in your hoola hoop?”  Me and God?  “That’s right,” she replied.  “You can give advice when asked, but you need to tend to who is in your hoola hoop and let God tend to your daughter.  Besides, she’s got her own hoola hoop!”

The hoola hoop illustration is a strong reminder of where boundaries lie in my relationships.  I thought it such a good illustration, I stopped at Wal-mart and bought a silver one to keep near my desk as a reminder.

When I was younger, I was quite over-responsible and always stepping into other people’s hoola hoops if I thought they needed help with what was going on inside it.  I also had dropped my hoola hoop so often, leaving what was my responsibility, that it was left lying on the ground and lots of people stepped over it to come into mine and treat me any way they wanted.  Boundaries was a word absent from my vocabulary and from my life!  It sounded so mean that I could not learn until it became necessary for literal survival.  God finally brought me through with Isaiah 43:18-19 until I was convinced He was doing a new thing and would help me where I was weak.  (That plus a lot of counseling.)

Skip now to present day and I’m still learning, but do know that without healthy boundaries in our lives, we cannot have healthy relationships.  Does everyone else know this?  Nope, and similar to a policeman directing traffic at 5 pm on a Friday, I have to hold up my boundaries sometimes for others to know where to stop.  My boundaries also serve as a reminder of where I need to be.  Others don’t really want me stomping around inside their hoola hoop either.  The Holy Spirit helps me recognize the trespass and do something about it.

Skip now to the Body of Christ.  I have found that religion sets up its own boundaries and you are damned if you cross them.  Religious boundaries create condemning judgment for you and others, and places God neatly in a box deep in the local church basement.  For clarification, my definition of religion is something man comes up with to make him feel better about himself and better than others.  It leads to performance, comparison, and cement tradition.  It is woven with guilt and fear.  There is a hierarchy in the authority structure where the ones at the top are the most important.  And we wonder why more people aren’t attracted to joining.

In my personal relationships, I am continuing to learn how to honor others.  When I honor others and myself as people with unique gifting and calling, boundaries are not a problem.  When I honor myself and others as equals in God’s eyes, boundaries are not a problem.  I can invite someone to my hoola hoop and share life, and they can invite me to theirs, without any unhealthy overlap or entanglement.  Fear, comparison, and condemnation have to take a back seat to honor.  I am able to serve someone else, or even ask for something I need, without the weights just described.

When I am feeling entangled or weighed down, I can stop and notice what is going on.  Have I left my hoola hoop and jumped in someone elses?  Have I let someone jump into mine or am I feeling the pull of a soul who wants my attention?  Either is possible.  Have I said “yes” when I should have said “no”?  Many people think it’s not “Christian” to say no to a request, but sometimes it is the most right thing we can do.

Church is filled up with us and with what we bring.  We can bring healthy behaviors into the Church, but we must learn them ourselves first.  The issue of boundaries and honor is not shallow and this brief story only ripples the surface.  These have been lessons in my life.  Maybe they have been in yours.  If so, please share insights you have about your boundaries and how to honor those around you.

(c) Sept. 2011, Robin Lawrimore

Last picture was taken by my daughter, Rachel, outside St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.  The man seems to be taking a moment to pray.  I love it.

8 thoughts on “The Hoola Hoop Principle

  1. J. Michael McDade

    I love this analogy of boundaries. I think I try way to hard to help people keep their hoola hoop going. Living in your calling without crossing boundaries is a fine line. Thanks for giving us an analogy that can make it look a little simpler.


  2. Rosa

    That is one of the areas I am working on.I like how you gave the picture of when you are playing ‘saviour’ to another person, you are neglecting your own hoola hoop area. I have a very wise 17 yr old daughter that helps me see these things with such clarity..the most recent being..Mom, you ALWAYS help other people, and no one ever comes to help you when you need it.! I realized, thanks to a friend who so gently put it, that I have literally trained others to depend on me, and its up to me to ‘untrain’ them. So, I am learning to say ,”sorry, no i can’t”, and not give an eplanation as to why I can’t. I didn’t realize how difficult that is…at first. But how incredibly freeing.I am feeling like I can actually take a deeper breath, I didn’t realize how smothered I was feeling. There is more time opening up to simply sit with my God, and learn to hear Him in a new way. Its like He is recalibrating my brain, renewing my mind, and I hear Him differently in this season of my life. Its deeper,sweeter,more personal. Thanks so much for the hoola-hoop illustration. I used to be quite good with a hoola-hoop, I think I will go buy one,myself!


    • Robin Lawrimore

      Rosa, how beautifully put! There is so much freedom in releasing others and yourself to be you. It’s so in my life that I am getting better at feeling the weights when they get attached, back up into God, and find out what’s going on. And you’re right, the breathing is much easier when you’re not having to share the same air. : ) Blessings to you this day!


  3. Jane Hillyard

    I loved the hoola hoop craze! although only my two big sisters owned one… still when the novelty wore off, I had two to work with.
    Trusting everyone around me into the safe hands of Holy Spirit rhythm was not always easy as I tended to like the job of Director General of the Universe. Now I delight in watching that thing hit the ground, as the Master takes every opportunity to grow to perfection those I encourage to find their own rhythm.


  4. Ronda

    If i were still manning my command post as “the one RESPONSIBLE for the happiness and well-being of all within my sphere” i might not get this, but since i turned in my resignation about eight years ago, i can so identify! Still learning to say no (training others to be dependent on me? Sadly, yes, but they are making the transition, as am i) still learning to say yes to myself, a definite work in progress, but i love this analogy! I’m working away from home right now, but my first purchase when i get back will be a hoola hoop. :o) Multi-colored, to remind me of the multi-faceted life the Lord has so richly blessed me with…and to keep my nose out and hands off, of the multiple situations that will try to draw me into the hoola hoops of others. Thank you Robin!


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