The boundary we set around our spiritual walk is crucial.
Nothing says chaos quite like Christmas.
Christmas plays to attend, parties to host, church events to schedule, school functions to organize, groceries to buy, and meals to cook. Not to mention presents to shop for, wrap, and deliver. The season can rob the best of us and our sanity. I think there is a reason that you and I cannot keep up with life during the holidays, and I think the enemy might have something to do with it.
The devil deals in distraction and destruction.
The more distracted and busy you and I become, the quicker we can fall into destruction. We aren’t falling off of a literal cliff or anything, but destruction can look a lot like anxiety, lashing out, irritability, and then some.
Even with the best of intentions, it still sneaks in. Even the best plans can fail us.
There is no special secret to guarding ourselves against distraction and destruction. We must simply draw a line in the sand and set realistic boundaries for what we can handle during the holidays.
Setting boundaries is an activity that we should be doing all year long. Boundaries are healthy for us and allow us to be what God has called us. Ask any counselor, and they will tell you that boundaries are like gold.
The first given boundary in our life should always be about God. Not just during the holiday season but every day of the year. The boundary we set around our spiritual walk is crucial. That boundary may look like saying no to your phone until after you have read your Bible. It may look like making family devotion time a priority.
Our relationship with Christ should be of first importance in our lives, always.
After our boundary of faith, what should be the boundaries that we are setting during the holidays? There are five areas where we need to set hard boundaries; time, people, social media, money, and rest.
Time can be hard to come by in busy seasons. We can also freely give away time that we should not give. We agree and make commitments without thinking through our time or what we are sacrificing to meet the demands of others.
We set ourselves up for a stressful and distracted season when we don’t set boundaries with our time.
Make a plan and look through your calendar before the season starts. Make a list of your priorities, answering what the most important things in your daily life are. Hold this list as you are invited to events and other holiday gatherings, and ask whether or not they are interfering with what matters most. If the answer is yes, it may be an event you need to say no to.
Guard your time, and by doing so, you guard your family, your walk with Christ, and your sanity.
We love social media. Why, I will never know since most of us spend more time complaining about the things we see than sharing what is good. There is so much that social media robs us of, one of which is time. The other is presence.
Go to any restaurant and look around, and the majority of people are looking at a phone rather than having a conversation. We are a culture addicted to information and other people's personal lives.
One boundary I have drawn in the last few years is signing off social media from Thanksgiving through the New Year. It's the best choice I have made. I don’t place expectations on myself to post all the things I am doing or how I am the greatest mom. I do not post pictures of opening gifts or Pinterest fails.
I choose to be present, savor the moment, and make memories where it matters, not because it would make a great photo moment.
This is a touchy subject for some people. But, yes, we need to set boundaries with people during the holidays. I am not saying we don’t visit family or endure the never-ending questions. I am saying to set boundaries in place ahead of time.
If you're single and Grandma wants to know when you’ll get married, be prepared with a confident answer ahead of time. If Aunt Jane picks on you for the weight you gained this year, prepare your answers in advance (make sure they are respectful ones).
Maybe your family includes toxic and unhealthy relationships; it may be worth not staying the whole time or not having long discussions with those who can cause emotional pain.
Everyone has maxed out a credit card during the holidays. I always think of Cindy Lou’s dad in the Grinch when they celebrated his maxed-out credit card at the beginning of the movie. The reality is we spend more than we have on things we will never really need.
We can set a few boundaries when it comes to money. We can set a budget that we are willing to spend on each person we would like to buy a gift for. Instead of purchasing one large gift, we can fill a small gift basket with things they need. For example, in 2020, my mom gifted us a tote with toilet paper, disinfectant, and paper towels. It was the best gift because it was stuff that was hard to find.
Another way to set boundaries with money is to commit to supporting your community through local businesses or event charities. I love shopping with local companies or even small businesses online. Amazon gets our money all year, so support business owners working hard to make a living.
My favorite boundary of all is rest.
This is something that can be hard for us, even in the off-season. During the holidays, however, rest can feel impossible. It all goes back to making a choice. If we do not rest, our immune systems won’t work well, we will be exhausted and irritable, and no one will want to be around us. Ever.
In the winter months, we make rest a high priority. I do not make plans during the week unless they are essential. I close down work by 4:00 pm, and I make sure that if my body is tired, I stop to rest. As someone with a chronic illness, if I don’t choose rest, my body will choose it for me.
Boundaries don’t have to be difficult to put into place, but they are needed.
When we look back on the holidays, we don’t want to feel like we were so busy that we missed out on everything or be so exhausted that we are glad to see it go. No, we want to thrive this season, rest in Christ, and make the most of the memories and people in front of us.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/SebastianGauert
Michelle Rabon is a wife and homeschooling mom of three who feels called to help women thrive in their walk with Jesus every day. In 2012, she started Displaying Grace, a ministry that is focused on helping women engage with God’s Word. Michelle has also served in women’s ministry for the past five years seeking to equip women in the local church through Bible study. When she is not writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, being close to the ocean, and drinking a lot of coffee.