When it comes to managing our hands-full lives as working church planting wives, we learned in the last post that juggling—not balancing—our responsibilities is key. But if we want to actually enjoy everything we have going on, we have to take care of ourselves. And taking care of ourselves as we work and parent and plant means setting boundaries to guard our homes and our hearts and our time.
Boundaries are not optional. They are life saving. Proverbs 16:17 tells us that those who guard their ways preserve their lives. Whether relational, physical, or technological, boundaries are good for us. Among other things, they save us from anxiety, bitterness, and exhaustion. We are wise when we understand, as Anne Lamott says, that “No” is a complete sentence.
For whatever reason, setting boundaries has always come easy for me. I know my experience is not the norm, though, and that many of you probably struggle in this area. If that’s the case, then I want to help you envision what’s possible by looking at three of my “b” boundaries: My bedroom, my burdens, and my busyness.
Remember when your life was safe? Yeah, me neither. We can all thank church planting for that. Our lives are noisy and scary as we move our feet through so many unknown, uncertain, and unpredictable days. The chaos and stress of it can eat us alive if we aren’t intentional about guarding the spaces in our homes where peace is possible.
For me, that place is our bedroom. A week and a half into parenthood, Ryan and I decided that clutter and children would not be part of the décor in our room. Several years later, we kicked the television out as well. We need our room to be a dependable, kid-less place of solace to retreat to together at the end of the day.
Even if everything else in the house or in our lives is in chaos, we can count on our room to be safe, to be quiet, to be clean, to be ours. We belong to so many other people throughout the day, but not at night. No, that time is sacred, and we share it with no one.
Setting rigid boundaries on our bedroom has given, without question, the most life to our marriage and ministry. It has also given me a place to shut out the world and nap on Sunday afternoons—another non-negotiable in my week!
What about you? Do you and your husband have a space you love to retreat to at the end of the day? If not, what might you need to do to create one?
Somewhere around the middle of year two of church planting, I remember breaking down in our living room because I felt so guilty about not being able to spend more time helping to grow our church. Between my full-time parenting job, my part-time telecommuting job, and my as-I-have-time photography job, I was just plain out of hours to be as involved in the day-to-day raising of our “fourth child” as I thought I should be.
The self-imposed pressure was suffocating me until my husband said something that set me free: “I don’t ever want you to feel like it’s your responsibility to bear the burden of what happens to Advance Church. That is for me to figure out. It’s my burden to carry, not yours.”
Everything changed for me after he said that, and I was able to breathe again. What a gift it was to delineate an actual boundary for this particular burden. After just one conversation I was able to drop the “worry about what’s going to happen to church” ball to the floor and watch it roll right out the door. It was a biggie, and with it out of my hands I was free to work and parent and take care of our home and Ryan without the nagging “but-shouldn’t-I-be-doing-more-for-Advance” pit in my stomach.
Are you feeling burdened by things God never asked you to carry? What would it look like to let even just one of those things go?
I am going to let my hero, Elisabeth Elliott, have the mic for this one. Of all the things she has taught me through her life and writing, this perspective on time management is one of the most transformative things I’ve learned from her during this hands-full season of abiding in Jesus, loving my husband, raising our children, planting a church, and excelling in my work:
“One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.”
What’s on your list that doesn’t reeeeallly need to be there? Have you allowed someone else to set your priorities for today? If so, what can go? Remember, “No” is a complete sentence. You don’t always owe an explanation.
All right, it’s your turn. What boundaries have helped you care for yourself and for your families in the midst of working and planting and serving the people God has set in front of you?
Kristen Lunceford is a working church planting wife. She and her family live in Las Vegas, NV, where, in 2011, God called she and her husband, Ryan, to start the first English-speaking Evangelical Covenant church in the state of Nevada. Advance Church began in their living room with five adults, a golden retriever, and a vision to see thousands of lives altered by Jesus and mobilized for his glory through a network of churches in the Las Vegas area and the Western United States. She works full-time for Academic Innovations. You can connect with Kristen on her website, www.kristenlunceford.com, Facebook, or Twitter.