Ahh, the holidays. It’s the time to get together with family and friends. While this should be enjoyable, for some people, getting together with their families tends to be a chore at the least, and a very traumatic experience at worst. Unfortunately last year, my family suffered the worst.
Boundaries are a very important part of overall life. They define where you end and where someone else begins. Boundaries protect you and your family from people or things that would run rampant all over your family or their time, or even their beliefs.
Protecting our family is a difficult task. It’s an even more difficult one when we need to protect them from people who should be loving them. But this is a necessary thing to do at times, and it’s a task that we must take seriously during the holiday season.
The first thing to keep in mind is that when you get married, you are your own family.
For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
Keeping this in mind, you need to do what’s best for YOUR family. Not your parents, or his parents, but YOUR family. Is it best that you not travel this year? Is it best for your family to have a quiet Christmas with just you guys? Is it best you limit your time with certain family members? Take all of these into consideration when making your plans.
Having boundaries helps to distinguish you (and what you can control) from others and what they control. When setting boundaries for your family, be respectful, but firm. Setting health boundaries may look like:
- We can’t make it this year.
- We won’t be coming unless you can leave correcting the children to us.
- We can come for dinner, but we won’t be able to stay much longer.
Often Christians fall in the trap of being doormats and taking crap from people in the name of Jesus, but it’s important to note that Jesus had boundaries too. Because of who Jesus was and what He could do, he literally had crowds following Him everywhere, but time and time again we see that He withdrew from the crowds when He needed to. (Luke 5:15-16, Matthew 12:15, Mark 1:35-39).
The truth is, you cannot control how others are going to respond to you setting boundaries with them. Once we respectfully lay out our boundaries, the only thing we can control is ourselves. Unfortunately many times people, even well-meaning family members, will try to manipulate you by making you feel bad about your boundaries. They may call you names or accuse you of hurting them. But as long as you believe you are doing what is best for your family, and you have been respectful in your interactions, you should not feel guilty about your boundaries.
Lastly, Jesus did not allow Himself to be manipulated by other people’s whims and wishes. He said no to Peter and the other disciples when they had other visions for Jesus’ ministry that were not in alignment with His purpose (Matthew 16:23). He even called Peter Satan and told him that he was a dangerous trap.