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4 Powerful Boundaries You Need to Set This Holiday Season

  • Kia Stephens
4 Powerful Boundaries You Need to Set This Holiday Season

Something about the holidays puts us all in an idyllic state. We envision harmonious gatherings with family and friends, an abundance of good food, and fond memories. The holiday season, with its nostalgic music, scents, and sounds, seems to immerse us into a euphoria of warm fuzzies. Although this reflects the sentiments of many, we would be remiss to ignore the reality that for some, this time of year is difficult.

Sometimes family gatherings are uncomfortable, financial demands put additional pressure on tight budgets, and current event conversations make us want to run and hide. The holidays seem to magnify all that stands in stark contrast to our ideals. This is why it makes sense to prepare for the possibility of awkward and potentially complicated scenarios beforehand.

This proactive stance encourages us to decide in advance how we will respond when faced with varying challenges during the holiday season. By setting boundaries we choose to be in control of the only thing we can attempt to control: us. For this reason, I am offering a few boundaries to get you through the holiday season.

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1. Establish Boundaries for Topics of Conversation

1. Establish Boundaries for Topics of Conversation

In an instant, things can go awry in a conversation. Certain hot-button topics can skyrocket the discourse barometer from zero to 100 in a matter of seconds. It’s in these dialogues where we may hold our breath in the breakroom or have intense heart palpitations at the dinner table.

Although, these difficult to have conversations are sometimes unavoidable, we can choose when, how, and with whom we have them. If we desire not to have heated discussions at the annual holiday family get together or while sipping punch at the office holiday party, we should employ some conversational boundaries.

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"Our words should be seasoned with salt."

"Our words should be seasoned with salt."

Colossians 4: 6 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Here the apostle Paul uses the word grace which translates to charis, meaning kindness. This word is further described as the favor Christ extends to mankind.   

Our conversations, specifically with those that do not believe in Jesus Christ, should be kind, even when we do not agree. Additionally, our words should be seasoned with salt. Because salt preserves, our words should act as a preservative in the lives of those we do life with.

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"...season your words with grace..."

"...season your words with grace..."

This is not to say we browbeat people with the gospel. This means we lovingly, with grace and wisdom, communicate with others. As a result, we may have private conversations regarding those hot-button topics or refrain from speaking altogether. This might also mean we choose to pray rather than engage in a conversation we might regret later. When you find yourself in conversations that could quickly spiral down to nowhere, choose to season your words with grace and salt.

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2. Establish Boundaries for How You Will Spend Your Time

2. Establish Boundaries for How You Will Spend Your Time

During the holidays, our time quickly becomes a hot commodity among our family and friends. Everyone vies for our attendance: our families, jobs, school parties, neighbors, and friends. It can become overwhelming to choose where we will and will not go.

Paul understood the time dilemma and offered some advice in Ephesians 5: 15-16. He says, “Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity. . .”  Paul knew that our time is a gift by God and He desires that we use it in a way that pleases him and not man.

This means we cannot attend everything. We should consult God when making our holiday plans. Establishing time boundaries may require us to say “no” to certain activities. Whether we may need to forego the office party, turn down that dinner invite, or limit the time we spend at certain family events, He will help us prioritize how we spend our time.  

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3. Establish Boundaries for How You Will Spend Your Money

3. Establish Boundaries for How You Will Spend Your Money

Spending money during the holiday season can sometimes feel like a bank account hemorrhage. There are photos to take, travel expenses to cover, and a seemingly endless amounts of gifts to buy. Every year around this time, we are faced with abundant options on what to do with the money we’ve been given.

We may be in a situation where we have an excess amount of money to spend on all the holiday expenditures, but if we are not, we will have to make a budget. This is the ultimate boundary line that we can create for our spending. 

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"...our spending should be a deliberate decision we make."

"...our spending should be a deliberate decision we make."

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Here we see that Paul says our spending should be a deliberate decision we make. We should not give grudgingly, out of obligation, or because we don’t want to look bad. When we give, it should be from a cheerful heart.

This means we might not be able to give to everyone, and we may have to communicate this to family, friends, and coworkers. Rather than go into debt to appease other people, we may need to opt out of participating in everything this holiday season. 

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4. Establish Boundaries for Our Heart

4. Establish Boundaries for Our Heart

As we gather with family and friends during the holidays, we will find ourselves in the company of many different people. Some of these people may be brash or insensitive, and some may be people who have previously hurt us. Their presence might tempt us to avoid certain events altogether.

This reality is further complicated when those individuals are a part of our family. If this is the case, should we avoid holiday gatherings completely?  I believe the answer to this problem is found in God’s word.

In Proverbs 4:23, Solomon tells us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Guarding requires taking an active posture to intentionally protect something or someone. When protecting something tangible like a house, or a child this concept seems easy to grasp. But how can we protect our hearts? 

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"We must become wise as it relates to people."

"We must become wise as it relates to people."

When words, jokes, and comments suddenly make a beeline for our souls, what are we supposed to do? How do we keep them from lodging themselves in our hearts?  We can find additional guidance in the earlier verses of this Proverb.

Proverbs 4: 5-6 says, “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.”

We must become wise as it relates to people. We should seek to know and understand the why behind their behaviors. What is their maturity level? Are they being influenced by an outside substance? What is their personality type? Do they have unhealed hurts? 

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"...it requires a moment by moment dependence on God ..."

"...it requires a moment by moment dependence on God ..."

When we begin to answer these questions, we will be able to make an informed decision regarding how to guard our hearts around them. This may require we read books, develop an arsenal of scriptures to meditate on and memorize, politely excuse ourselves from certain conversations, and in some cases, have an honest conversation with the individual. There is no blanket prescription that covers all possible scenarios.

When it comes to guarding our heart, especially from toxic people, it requires a moment by moment dependence on God for wisdom, guidance, and His leading. The benefit we have as believers is that we can commune with God before, during and after our holiday gatherings in order to have his grace, power, and presence as we engage with people we would rather avoid.

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Enjoy (Not Endure) the Holiday Season!

Enjoy (Not Endure) the Holiday Season!

Creating healthy boundaries for the holiday season may be one of the greatest decisions we make for this time of year. We do not have to merely react to people and circumstances. We can predetermine how we will respond in speech and in our actions. This will help make our holidays season one we enjoy rather than simply make it through. 

Kia Stephens is a wife and homeschooling mama of two who is passionate about helping women know God as Father. For this reason, she created The Father Swap Blog to be a source of encouragement, healing, and practical wisdom for women dealing with the effects of a physically or emotionally absent father. Each week through practical and biblically sound teaching she encourages women to exchange father wounds for the love of God the Father. For more encouragement download Kia's free ebooks, Hope for the Woman With Father Wounds and Forgiveness Hacks: 5 Strategies to Help You Forgive. Additionally, you can connect with Kia on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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