5 Boundaries for Peopling through the Holidays


As we prepare to gather for the holidays, there's always a pit in my stomach. Call it what you will, I know it to be this recurring theme throughout my adult years that I'll be outside my comfort zone and in the land of someone else's expectations for me.

I've recently had conversations with some friends who are concerned about boundaries in their own life with friends and family, and the holidays brings them to the forefront. There are endless obligations, expectations, and masks we put on to hide the anxiety and pressure of this season- a season that is meant for joy, blessings, gratitude and abundance are often filled with deep depression and falling short.








I want to encourage you, as always to seek joy in EVERY season- especially the holiday season. So, I've put together a list of 5 simple boundaries you can start practicing to prepare you for all your holiday gatherings.



I even created a shirt for you to remember to be a joy seeker in this season! You can grab it from our Etsy shop today! Best news is... it comes in 5 amazing shirt color choices!







5 Simple Boundaries to Practice

I call this "practice" because it is something you have to do create into habits. You will have to do them over and over and over until they become normal for you. These are simple, but if you aren't used to them, they can often be scary and feel uncomfortable, at first. Stick with them. The more you put them into practice, the easier it is to shift your mindset into a natural response, instead of a quick reaction.


1. Learn to Say "No":

There are usually a long list of events and festivities being added to your calendar starting... yesterday. It's a list that sneaks up on us every single year. And, despite Covid, and the inward celebration for all of us introverts having less things on our list, we will still have that list of obligatory celebrations of tidings and joy to ring in the holidays. If you're like me, a simple Hallmark movie and a bowl full of popcorn on the couch with my boys would suffice for this gal. Can I get an amen?!


Ok, so how do you decide which holiday festivities are a must and which ones you can actually, get this... say "No. Sorry, this year we just can't."?!


Girlfriend, I learned this one last year; especially after losing my husband in January, I learned that my wellbeing meant I needed to put myself first. I found peace in knowing that my heart needed to at rest and be home and not practicing all the goodness of snowball throwing and happy family photos- so, I opted out. It was good for my soul just to be home.


Let's put this into a simple practice. Answer "Yes" or "No" to each of these. If you lean into the middle, assume it's a "No".

  1. Could this event bring me and my immediate family joy?

  2. Do I or my immediate family want to go?

  3. Are there people at this event that I can talk to and feel at peace with?

If you answered "No" to any of these, you might better reconsider. Don't say "Yes" simply because you were asked.


2. Be Unashamedly You:

Being around family sometimes brings out the worst in us. Doesn't it?! We feel defensive, hurt, or like we will never measure up. You're probably wondering if it's Lauren Jackson still writing here- I assure you, it is.


I found myself in a rhythm of expectations several years ago. I would get this huge gut feeling that I was going to battle when I showed up in front of my family. I felt misunderstood, alone, and like a misfit. I'm not even sure they noticed, but it felt like I was in a fight with myself. The last thing I felt was joy and merry and bright when preparing to surround myself with people who were my blood. What is this awful feeling?


This is the fight of the enemy on family. Mostly, it is an inner war that we fight in the dark, alone. Satan's ultimate plan is to destroy family, because family was designed by God. I'm still learning to overcome this battle- of hurt and harbored feelings of my childhood, of favoritism and unfairness. But, the way I lose, is to give up and throw in the towel when my heart longs to be a family more than anything. I have learned that I have to create the family that I want- it starts with me and my mindset.


So, before I enter into this season of gathering, I will be working affirmations to remind myself of what God thinks of me- and that is all that matters. I encourage you to do this daily. Here are a few of my own.

  • Lie: I am different. I don't fit in.

Affirmation: I am uniquely made by the hands of God. I belong because this is where God has divinely placed me.

  • Lie: I feel abandoned.

Affirmation: I am deeply loved. I am chosen.

  • Lie: I am not enough. I am not what they want me to be.

Affirmation: I am who I am. I am purposed for the life God has given me. I have everything I need to fulfill this calling.


Friend, the main point of this is that you never have to explain yourself. You be you- unashamedly. Be confident in your season of life, no matter how dark it looks.


3. Learn Cues:

If something in your conversations turns to a topic you don't feel comfortable talking about or sharing, simply learn to change the topic, move away or invite someone else over to join you, and turn your attention to someone or something else. Kids are a really good way to deterring the conversation and moving on to something else. Don't get sucked in to a place that steals your joy. Look for the silver lining in every conversation, edify a situation, and remain positive. Pull away from judgment, negativity and gossip.


4. Protect Your Heart

No one can make you think, feel, or react a specific way- lest you allow them to. Keep this quote handy,

"What you do is up to you, but what it means is up to me." - Steven Furtick

I learned this through a conversation I had recently when someone came up to me in a crowd whom I had never met walked up to me and greeted me. I knew of him. I know things about him a typical stranger doesn’t know. But I’ve never met him. And, to my surprise, he apparently knew me too. He greeted me with condolences about my loss. {While it may seem like a kind gesture no one wants to be associated with their loss as their identity. I’ve never identified myself as a widow and I never plan to. What I loss, was Joel’s gain.} It got incredibly awkward because what do you say, besides “thank—- y-ou?!” As you shrug your shoulders. I couldn’t leave it there though! {You know me!} I said but “I’m actually in a really good place and God is good. Things make sense... after the fact.” He looked quite confused and like he had more to say.


He continued the conversation a little while later, flagging me down again. It got even more awkward. I don’t know that it was his intention but he brought up how he had been separated from his wife for 4 years- I’m sorry that’s not something comparable to losing your husband to death. And then I told him I was happy and dating someone and he warned me to be care of my feelings. He shamed me in that moment. A stranger, I remind you.


I will tell you as I’m reflecting on this conversation what I’ve learned...

I’ve decided I am not grieving in this moment. I am healing.

I will never let the focus of my story with Joel to be on losing him.

I am happy. I am not sad.

I will not be identified for what I’ve loss but who I am and how far I’ve come. And that distance is a feat.

I am confident that God, Himself is in control and I hear His voice.

I will not be shamed for moving forward, ever.

And I hope if you ever find yourself here in this place, a place of who you are and refuse to be identified by what you’ve lost.


My point here is that you have to 1. choose who to allow to speak into your life and 2. give the words and the things done to you meaning yourself, not allow others to do that for you. Who are you allowing to speak into your life? Protect your heart, friend. For you are worthy and loved and adored.


5. Don't Compare

The last thing I will tell you is to never compare your life, your season to anyone else. I don't care how much further along someone is than you, you only see what you see on the surface. What you need to realize here and now is that everyone struggles, everyone is in pain. Life is hard, not just for you. This is life and no one is spared heartache this side of eternity. So, while you may be tempted to look at someone else's life, you shouldn't. Give grace and love, especially to those who you are tempted to envy. Comparison is arguably the biggest thief of joy. Don't lose yours to things you can't even see beneath the surface. My advice, focus on gratitude. I've started a #30daygratitude challenge and I'd be delighted if you'd join in and do it with me. This practice as transformed my life and how I hand the hard things in life. And, I know it can be just as powerful for you!


Feel free to print and also join in posting your gratitude daily in our Grits, Grace and Granola Facebook community for accountability. Remember friend, you are never alone!



A side note:

I've been out of the blogging game for a while- at least since losing Joel - it hasn't been consistence. First up, as avid readers of our blog and follower of our brand and family and farm, I just want to say "Thank you for sticking it out with me!" I am so grateful for all of our new writers and guest writers, but I've had some heart-to-heart talks with God recently and a good kick in the butt from my mentors to get back to where this all started. I've been blogging for 10 years this year friends, and I often feel like I've failed you with all the other things JPF and GGG has going on. I've also fell into the fear trap that I can't write- that I lack words, but I want you to know that I am going to get back to what started this. I'm going to start writing more, sharing my life with you, not just on social media but on this blog. So, thank you for your patience with me, but I feel like my heart needs to write. It needs the release of all the things I feel inside, because I feel like you too need to hear the things we share, the things we struggle with-together! I got you! And, if you wouldn't mind, please pray with me about this continued venture. It isn't easy, but I am back!


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I so enjoy sharing my life alongside you! I am so grateful to each of you reading and being a part of our life, our farm, and our community!


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Have questions? Contact us via email at Lauren.gritsgraceandgranola@gmail.com


Let's grow, friends,

Lauren

Lauren

food, farm, + crafts

I live for free-range living and beautiful, handmade things at a frugal-mama price. I love overcast days, personal growth, and winging life and business. I believe our best days are on the horizon and joy can be found in every season.

Kenzie

wellness +  motherhood

I live for the messy motherhood moments. I am passionate about health and wellness, especially when it takes me to the great outdoors. I’m building a business while wiping boogies.

Melissa

cultivating +  motherhood

I live for life's adventures- great and small, for travel and making memories with my family. I love audiobooks, country living, and being a mom. I am passionate about loving kids from hard places. I believe daily gratitude and morning routines are keys to life.

Lorie

travel

I love to share my adventures, stories, photos, my bucket list and my dreams with the hopes of inspiring others to chase their dreams and check off those bucket lists!

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