"Boundaries" is not my favorite word. It ranks right up there with "diet" or "ticket." I prefer words like "indulgence," "flexible," or "break." All my friends would tell you that my dislike for the word "boundaries" comes from how agonizing it is for me to set boundaries. By the grace of God, some accountability, and hard work, my boundary-setting has improved over the years, but I still have a long way to go. My sophomore year in college, there was this semester where I over committed myself to the point where I never had time to eat. I literally lived on protein bars. I had multiple jobs and a full course load, but I just kept saying "yes." Instead of asking my boss to reduce my hours, I agreed to more hours. Instead of blocking off time for homework, I agreed to meet with someone to help them with their homework. Instead of buying myself food, I'd take an international student to get food. Get the picture? I was boundary-less, weary-more, and happy-less. Basically, I was a mess. Eventually, my poor boundaries led to some good friends having an intervention. One friend told me that I had to turn in my two weeks at one of my jobs that day. I did and my life after that semester was much better.
I still really struggle with the boundary thing though. "Yes" just feels so much better than "no" most of the time, but I've learned that "yes" often leads to resentment, obligation, and missing what God has for me. My perpetual "yes" problem comes down to being a people-pleaser. I want to make everyone happy, so I tend to spread myself incredibly thin to accommodate them. The things is though, the Bible is really clear that pleasing men counters serving Him: "For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ" (Galatians 1:10, HCSB). I don't know about you, but I want to be a slave for Christ. In other words, this people-pleasing thing has to go.
In the season where Christ is supposedly the reason we celebrate, my slave mentality tends to go out the window for a pleasing mentality. I want to do all the holiday things. I want to buy all the presents. I want to eat all the cookies. Therefore, my calendar, finances, and health all seem to be enslaved to traditions and wants rather than Emmanuel, the God that came down to free me from all this. Boy, does that sound a lot like me and the protein bars.
So here are two easy holiday boundaries (by "easy," I mean simple; no boundary is effortless):
Want to go a little deeper with boundaries in 2018? Try reading Townsend and Cloud's book, Boundaries, or Lysa TerKeurst's book, The Best Yes.