I don’t know about you, but I’m SO EXCITED for Christmas! The pumpkin pie with whip (don’t judge), late-night Christmas movies, leftover food, nostalgic songs on the radio, beautiful lights (and even the tacky ones) –give them ALL TO ME! Maybe it’s the need for some normalcy in what has been a chaotic year or the fact that I’m just ready for the space and peace that comes when I intentionally take time to celebrate Emmanuel, God with us. Either way, you need to know I’m ready and that my family was one of the first to have lights up the day after Halloween (#sorrynotsorry). Anybody else?
While preparing for a new holiday season, one of the things I’m not as excited about is taking stock of the boundaries I’ve needed to set with others. For whatever reason, the holidays have a special way of “bringing to light” all those conversations I’ve put off over the past year. I mean, being honest about unhealthy habits I’ve failed to address isn’t exactly as fun as making Christmas cookies –know what I mean?
Regardless, boundaries are some of the most life-giving, life-changing safeguards we can set for ourselves (and others). I’m still learning what it means to set these boundaries more proactively, but here are a few things helping me as the holidays approach. Maybe they’ll be an encouragement to you as well!
Start with your heart
This concept may sound easy, but this involves quite a bit of honesty about what I’ve allowed to take root in my own heart- bitterness, resentment, or anger, perhaps? Once I take the time to honestly process these feelings with the Lord (confession, repentance, and accepting His deep love and forgiveness towards me), I can genuinely begin to work through my expectations with others. When I start with my own heart, I am released from owning another’s guilt, shame, or frustration with the boundaries I’ve set.
Assess the situation
There have been times when I’ve assumed boundaries meant cutting off all contact with the person I’ve needed to set boundaries with. However, that is not always the case. For example, if I feel like I’m being taken advantage of, a conversation involving a boundary line could be as simple as setting clear limits. “I’d love to watch your kids from noon-3pm, and then I’ll need to leave to go run some errands”. Or maybe setting some boundaries involves saying the word “no” rather than feeling guilted into saying “yes.” Before obsessing over big conversations that may (or may not) need to be had right away, assess the person and situation you’re dealing with.
Don’t be afraid of confrontation
Even as I type this, I admit that confrontation has been a huge struggle for me! While I know many of you were born to jump into hard conversations with ease fearlessly; I am not one of those people. It is a discipline that I must intentionally practice, or my “people-pleasing” ways will prove to be a snare once again! However, when I avoid confrontation at all costs, I experience something much worse –bitterness, resentment, and the loss of potentially making the relationship better (if that’s possible). I also withhold the opportunity to extend grace to the other party and allow them to make amends on their end (especially if they are unaware they’ve done anything wrong). Don’t let the discomfort of the needed conversation to deter you away from setting your boundaries. Your health, wellbeing, and the safety of those around you may just depend on it.
Setting boundaries is never comfortable, but it is so worth it! For more advice on setting boundaries, check out our recent Mercy Talk series! I hope this has helped you start thinking through how to set boundaries during the holidays.
Mercy Multiplied is a free-of-charge residential counseling program that helps young women ages 13-32 break free from life-controlling issues and situations. Apply today or learn more by visiting MercyMultiplied.com.