Why Emotional Boundaries Matter

Insights from Lysa Terkeurst

Lysa Terkeurst is a name that needs little introduction in the world of Christian literature. As the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the author of over 25 books, Lysa has consistently offered profound insights into life, faith and relationships. Her recent book, “Good Boundaries and Goodbyes: Loving Others without Losing the Best of Who You Are,” serves as a beacon of light, guiding us through the complex labyrinth of interpersonal relationships and self-love.

Terkeurst’s book was born from personal pain, a silver lining in the cloud of her marriage’s ending. “The most devastating ending to my most important human relationship,” she calls it. It was in this crucible of heartbreak that Lysa discovered the profound necessity of boundaries. She once believed the Christian way meant, “everyone else’s emergency was my emergency room,” but she soon realized that this lack of personal boundaries was not sustainable, nor spiritually healthy.

Addressing the common misconceptions, she clarifies, “A lot of people think, okay, boundaries are something that are un-Christian, unkind and not really in keeping with a heart that wants to love others and give to others. And that’s just not the case.”

Setting boundaries is a way to honor the God-given sanctity of our lives.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (NLT).

Your Emotional Bank Account

To better understand boundaries, Lysa provides a relatable analogy – a bank account. She explains, “To the level that we give someone access to our lives … they must bring that same level of responsibility.” If there’s an imbalance—if someone is given high-level access but brings low-level responsibility—that’s where trouble arises.

As in the case of a bank account, Lysa says “It only takes one who is irresponsible with the access that we grant them to completely drain our bank account down to bankruptcy.” Much like our financial resources, our emotional, relational and time capacities are also limited.

Proverbs 22:26-27 cautions us, “Don’t agree to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for someone else. If you can’t pay it, even your bed will be snatched from under you” (NLT).

Boundaries in Relationships and Work

In a world fraught with internal and external chaos, boundaries act as balancers. They help us retain our unique selves while being generous towards others. In a work environment, Lysa emphasizes, “boundaries are not an excuse to be irresponsible or to piece out or tap out on what we should be doing.” Instead, they foster better communication and healthier relationships.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ” (Ephesians 4:15 NLT). Lysa encourages us to openly communicate our boundaries to improve our personal and professional relationships.

Fear often holds us back from setting boundaries. We fear rejection, conflict or misunderstanding. Lysa says, “I’m convinced more relationships die, not because we attempt to have boundary conversations and they go poorly, but because we refuse to have the necessary conversations we needed to have all along.” Setting boundaries can be an act of power, love and self-discipline, demanding courage to confront our fears and to initiate those difficult, but necessary, conversations.

It is natural to struggle while navigating these waters. Lysa herself admits, “There are so many times I don’t set these healthy boundaries because I don’t really know how to practically do it.” But acknowledging this difficulty is the first step towards learning and improving.

The journey of setting boundaries is a personal one.

Setting boundaries helps us honor God, enabling us to give generously without being drained. While boundary conversations can be challenging, they can also pave the way to healthier relationships and stronger self-esteem. As you reflect on these lessons from Lysa, may you find the courage to establish your own boundaries, believing in the wisdom of Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (NLT).

If you choose not to be anxious about anything, you can live a supernatural life.


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