Setting relationship boundaries can feel difficult, but with God’s support, it is possible to set boundaries without guilt! Listen in as I share how setting boundaries is not selfish, examples of where boundaries are needed in relationships, and 3 questions to ask yourself when you feel that a boundary is needed. We are all called to love each other and sometimes the most loving thing we can do is set a boundary.If you want support in figuring out what is underneath your struggles to set boundaries, check out the Christian Mindset Makeover where we use proven brain science tools and truths of the Bible to rewire these patterns. And if the phrase “new year new you” seems daunting, make sure to join me in the virtual Goal Planning Workshop so you can have support in stepping into the dreams that God has planned for you!
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
- [02:05] Which Relationships Are Calling For Your Attention?
- [03:56] Is Setting Boundaries Within Relationships Selfish?
- [06:36] Leaning on God to Help Us Set Boundaries
- [10:23] Instances and Examples Where Boundaries Are Needed
- [15:00] How Can We Best Love Each Other?
- [17:04] The Importance of Making Allowances For Each Other's Imperfections
- [20:21] 3 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Sense That You Need to Set a Boundary
- [23:20] Asking God For Strength in Relationships
- [25:21] Resources That Will Help With Setting Boundaries
[02:05] Which Relationships Are Calling For Your Attention?
Each one of your relationships may be calling for attention. I encourage you to look at all of these different relationships in your life to see if boundaries need to be set.
Romantic Relationships: You might be going through a tough season in your marriage and there are things that need to be addressed, you might be single and asking for support from God to help you find your partner, or you may be going through a divorce and need His support. There could be many different things happening and there is always room for us to say “Lord, this is draining me and I need to have renewal, what could that look like?”
Parenting Relationships: You could be going through a tough season in your parenting relationships where there is tension with your spouse or ex-spouse because of parenting styles. You could have a child who is rebelling and fighting with you. Or maybe you have a child who is sick and you do not know what is ahead so you need support in gaining a fresh perspective because it is draining. Maybe you have older children and you are trying to figure out who you are in relationship to them moving forward.
Relationships with Your Parents: You may be struggling with how to care for your aging parents. You might be feeling guilty about wanting to help them but not knowing what this looks like. It may also be draining to be around this challenging influence every day.
Friendships: There may be old friendships, friendships within the church, or even relationships with neighbors that need attention.
There are ways that relationships can invigorate us and ways that relationships can drain us and it is okay for us to look at each of these areas and be honest.
[03:56] Is Setting Boundaries Within Relationships Selfish?
If you are struggling with setting boundaries because you believe that it is selfish, you are not alone and it is possible to set boundaries without guilt. If there is a relationship that is draining or wearing on you, it is not selfish to say that it is. We may be called to serve, but we are also called to refill ourselves up so we can serve well.
Sometimes we have to assess where we are at and ask the Lord how we can keep doing the things He has asked with excellence. We do not want to show up, go through the motions, and check a box. We want to serve with excellence where His power is surging through us. We will have days when we are tired and still have to do things but we can have a way to move through that versus letting it happen and living in chaos.
We cannot always eliminate draining relationships. There are going to be people in our lives that we can not break apart from. Whether that be a neighbor, a parent, or someone on your kid's soccer team, we cannot run from them. I am also not saying that we need to get rid of people who do not work for us but I am saying that we need to set boundaries that are going to make the relationship stronger and allow us to show up in a healthier way.
A boundary that we set could also allow the other person to grow too. Sometimes we stay in dysfunctional relationships because it is more comfortable. We do not want to rock the boat or make someone mad. But if we want to set a boundary we can ask the Lord to help us set one that is going to allow both of us to find more blessings in this relationship and situation.
[06:36] Leaning on God to Help Us Set Boundaries
In the book Good Boundaries and Goodbyes: Loving Others Without Losing the Best of Who You Are, the authorLysa TerKeurst says “Boundaries are not just a good idea, they're a God idea.” The idea that God sets boundaries sounds crazy. We think of God as always being accessible because He is there anytime that we come to Him. Like the father standing out there waiting for the prodigal son, He is standing at the edge of that hill, looking at the horizon waiting for all of us to come.
But even Jesus took time to step away and said “This is my boundary. This is where I am focusing my ministry on.” He made an intentional decision to invest in certain things (specifically 12 men as His disciples) and in order to make that investment, He had to say no to some things. He had to put up some boundaries and He was looking for people who were willing to go deep, not just people who were there for the show.
Boundaries make us stronger and better but we need to look at them from a Ggodly perspective rather than a gaslighting cancel culture kind of view. We also have to remember that relationships are not just about us and our pleasure and feelings. Sometimes we are there to serve.
There are obvious signs that a boundary is needed like physical or mental abuse or if you are asked to do something you are not comfortable with. But there are also subtle signs like a heaviness within the relationship. Sometimes people make comments that you are not comfortable with or they twist your words and talk behind your back. This does not mean that you need to break off the friendship, but you need to think about how you want to interact with them. This is where you can ask God “How do you want me to show up in this relationship in a way that is going to protect what you are developing in me and what you are doing in them?”
For example: I had a very close friend in seventh grade and I remember that she would make rude comments like “Your outfit is horrible” or “Your hair looks weird today.” I would take this to heart and when I would call her out on it she would say “I was kidding, can’t you take a joke? What is wrong with you?” And she would flip it back on me. And as a seventh grader, I just thought “Okay I guess she is joking.”
This is a relationship where I did not have to cut ties with her but I can ask for support from God in setting up boundaries and deciding how I am going to interact with her.
[10:23] Instances and Examples Where Boundaries Are Needed
Another example of when boundaries might be a good idea is when you feel as if your boundaries are not being respected. If someone is clingy or infringes on your established time with friends or family, then you may need to set stricter boundaries. A friend of mine was talking to me about a new friendship. This woman confided with her about her life and my friend said “I am here for you and will pray for you.” Then she started showing up at my friend's house unannounced while being demanding of her time. My friend had to set some boundaries and be more firm with her about things. These are hard conversations to have but you have to make the decision and have to the confidence to say what is not a healthy fit.
Another way that we can sense a boundary needs to happen is when someone has an expectation of service or help. There can be many confusing lines when this involves family or close friends. We have to be very honest about how we show up in a way where we respect what they want but also respect our limits. A friend of mine is living in a community in close proximity to with her daughter and her grandchildren and she is trying to be a grandma but also give her daughter respect. There has to be a lot of communication addressing the boundaries and expectations, because if not it can become overwhelming.
Another friend of mine is taking care of her mom as her mom ages. She is in a stage where it feels very draining for her because her mom is a negative person. Sometimes these expectations are put on us in ways that we did not ask for. We are trying to figure out how to help and also do the other things we were meant to do. We have to ask the Lord what is healthy and unhealthy for us and the other person. Sometimes it is getting additional help or sometimes God is going to keep us in this situation with more dependence on Him.
Sometimes setting a boundary means spending more time with the Lord to be empowered to do something, it is not always just walking away. Setting boundaries is a case-by-case scenario and God is the one who can help you through this and give you the wisdom you need.
[15:00] How Can We Best Love Each Other?
When we are presented with a social situation that could trigger inner or outer chaos in some unhealthy way, we have the right to change how we engage with that person. Ask yourself “How can I interact with that person in a healthier way?” Oftentimes, this is growing both them and us in that process. We are called to love one another and sometimes one of the most loving things we can do for us and the other person is to set a boundary. This reminder can help us release ourselves from the guilt that can come with setting boundaries.
Being loving does not mean that you are a doormat. We have to love others as we love ourselves and Jesus was never a doormat. He never let people trample on him even though He showed the highest level of sacrificial love by going to a cross, standing before his enemies, and letting them attack him. He was not “letting” people treat him in a certain way, he endured this because he was obedient to God and because He loved us. He knew his sacrifice was the only way to make that happen.
Brene Brown says that “being clear is kind and being kind is clear.” We are often too afraid to hurt others by speaking the truth but Ephesians 4:15 says “We’re always called to speak truth in love.” Lean on the Holy Spirit's help in answering these questions:
-How can I best love this other person right now?
-What does that look like?
-Is it keeping my mouth shut or opening my mouth and sharing?
[17:04] The Importance of Making Allowances For Each Other's Imperfections
Another truth that we need to remember is from Ephesians 4:2 which says “We are called to bear with one another in love” or Colossians 3:13, “Make allowances for each other faults.” This does not mean that people can treat us inappropriately or abuse us, but it does mean that we have to give people space to be imperfect and to change.
In my life group this week, we talked about the concept of truth. We were going through the book of John, and the pastor shared a survey where they found a certain percentage of Christians who did not believe in absolute truth. If you are a Bible-believing Christian, then you know that the Bible says that there is only one truth and that is to follow Christ. As we were talking about this we were asking ourselves “How do we show truth in a way that is still loving to people?”
We need to make room for people to be imperfect, the way God makes room for us to be imperfect. This does not mean we change what truth is but it does mean that we need to bear with one another as people are not going to understand truth perfectly. We live in this disposable society where if it does not fit our agenda, then we can ditch it. But what if this is not about you? What if God brought that person into your life so that you can encourage them in this season? What if they need to see the love of Christ and see someone love them consistently, despite their “faults”? What if they need some extra grace?
We need to release the expectation that everything and everyone is going to treat us perfectly. None of us are perfect and we all deserve grace from others. When these issues come up in relationships, we have to process what we are feeling instead of carrying around the baggage. I do not mean that we ignore abuse, I mean that we have to be willing to give each other more grace and more space throughout our everyday lives with each other (especially in long-term relationships) because there are so many opportunities to be imperfect.
[20:21] 4 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Sense That You Need to Set a Boundary
If you are sensing that there is a boundary that needs to be put in place to bring restoration and healing so that you can focus on the work that God's calling you to do, ask yourself these 3 questions.
- What parts of the situation are in my control? A lot of things are in your control such as how much time you spend with someone, how you choose to interact with them, how you show up for them etc. Are you going to complain about this person and then show up the next day being nice to them without addressing it? We are in control of how we deal with situations like that.
- What parts of the situation are out of my control? How the person responds to us is out of our control. We can control our aspect of it but we do not have control over everything. We need to release those things and remind ourselves that other people have the right to respond the way they want to respond.
- What part have I played? Ask yourself what part you have played in making this a draining situation. Of course, we want to think that it is someone else’s fault but we need to ask ourselves genuinely before the Lord, what part have I played in causing the chaos and the drain in this relationship? We also have to ask ourselves if we are maintaining the boundaries that support a healthy relationship. We cannot show up well for others if we are not taking responsibility to take care of our health, to get a good night's sleep, and to spend time with Jesus every day. Maybe part of the chaos in the relationship is because you need to change some of those things in your life. We have to see how we are responsible and everything starts with taking care of what is happening inside of us.
[23:20] Asking God For Strength in Relationships
We do not have to love others well by our own strength. This is not a call to push harder or to love differently. If God is calling us to set up a boundary, we can set up boundaries in love. If He is calling us to pursue a relationship, we do not have to summon that love for them in our hearts. We can ask God for strength, a new perspective, or a different way to look at the situation and this person.
There are some people that are harder for us to love than others. This may be because our personalities do not click or that they are going through difficult times and they are acting a certain way. We always need the supernatural love of God to do the work that we have been called here to do. There are seasons in life where there is not a lot of reward for the effort (especially in parenting) so we need this supernatural example of love to bring change in relationships. We need the supernatural power of God to show up in us and that starts with connecting with Him. He is not going to give you the strength for the next three years, He is going to give you strength for this moment. Thank Him in advance for the ability to have a new perspective and pursue this relationship differently.
[25:21] Resources That Will Help With Setting Boundaries
The first resource I want to share (along with the book I talked about earlier) is “Boundaries” by Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend.
If you want deeper support from me and a community of women, the next resource I recommend is joining me in The Christian Mindset Makeover. Within this program, we figure out how we can show up from a different perspective and use proven brain science tools and the Bible together to rewire these patterns!
If you prefer more intimatedesire support and help overcoming obstacles that keep you from setting boundaries support, I suggest my new cogroup coaching program, “Onward + Upward” Group Coachingaching package. . If you are interested, fill out the form and let me know how I might be able to partner with you either in group coaching or one-on-one coaching to allow you to get God's direction in these areas.
The last resource I can recommend is the FREE Christian Mindset Workshop which talks about getting over the feeling of not being enough in relationships. This drives a lot of the people pleasing, needing to perform, and things that we all struggle with, including setting boundaries.
I encourage you to sit alone with the Lord this week. Take some time and just let Him help you with these relationships that feel challenging, difficult, or draining in your life. Ask yourself some of the questions we talked about so that you can have that restoration this next year!
Live Goal Setting Workshop:
What if goal setting allowed you to honor your life, celebrate God’s blessings, and renew your perspective on what’s possible? This is how goal planning was meant to be.
I want to help you become more energized and joyful in the coming year, help you create a specific plan for change, and celebrate your wins.
Join us in this Goal Setting Workshop and let's discover a healing, Gospel-based approach to asking God to direct our next steps.
I can't wait to help you find clarity, renewal, and a new passion to love God and enjoy your life!