Setting boundaries is more than a psychological tool — it’s really a spiritual discipline that helps to establish further your self-identity in Christ.
By saying no to straining to make people happy or rescue them we can yes to Christ’s rule in our lives and theirs. The reverse is also true: Saying yes to Christ in new and deeper ways gives us added strength to say no, even if it might escalate tensions or disappoint someone.
You may feel anxious about the prospect of saying no to someone or having a difficult conversation, but don’t let that stop you! Try it from within the blessed yoke of Jesus.
Content in Jesus’ Easy Yoke
To help you “take courage” from Christ I invite you to meditate on Paul’s words in Philippians 4. He wrote these powerful, Spirit-inspired words when he was being persecuted in jail. (For him being in jail meant being chained to a prison guard who probably was a boring, smelly, foul-mouthed, brute thug!)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!… Do not be anxious about anything… If anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things…
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation… I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:4, 6, 8, 11-13).
The peace of Christ was “guarding” Paul’s mind and heart (v 7). Nourished by his life within the boundaries of God’s wonderful kingdom, he wasn’t anxious, resentful, or complaining about the injustice of his situation — he was quite happy in Jesus’ easy yoke!
Letting Go of Control
We need to learn to let go of trying to control our relationships and accept that they may be harmonious or they may be conflictual, but either way I can trust the Sovereign Lord’s loving rule in my life. I abandon outcomes to God because I trust that he is working all things together for my good (Romans 8:28). This helps us to be more loving toward difficult people.
To build up your separate boundaries in relationship to others you can try my Breath Prayer adapted from Philippians 4:11-13: “In Christ I’m strong… in conflict or harmony.”
It’s helpful to use this Breath Prayer to watch and pray with Jesus by anticipating a conflict, guilt trip, or other stress on your boundaries in a particular relationship. Imagine yourself in the stressful relationship situation…
Talk to your gracious Lord and Savior about how you feel…
Now offer the Breath Prayer:
- Breathe in to receive the Lord’s blessing: “In Christ I’m strong…”
- Breathe out to let go, trusting the outcomes to the Sovereign Lord: “In conflict or harmony.”
- Inhale (trust) the reality of the heavens all around you: “In Christ I’m strong…”
- Exhale to refuse to be defined by your visible circumstances: “In conflict or harmony.”
The Peace of Christ
You can learn how to become more peaceful in stress and more loving to God and the people around you. My book will teach you how. Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke: Rhythms of Grace to De-Stress and Live Empowered.
It’s great for personal devotions or as a small group resource.
A reader says: “This book is one of the most insightful books I’ve read lately. I highly recommend it to those who are tired and frustrated and need to be refueled with God’s peace in this high-pressured world.”