The Truth About Boundaries in a Cancel Culture

Creating boundaries is all the rage these days. In the name of self-care, people say no to events, obligations, and even people (COVID aside).

This may sound all well and good, but as my husband recently pointed out when we discussed this very topic, “boundaries” have all too often become a euphemism for “canceling.”

Maybe since Valentine’s Day is near I should be focused on something more lovey-dovey than the way society has commandeered the meaning of boundaries, but…well, here we are.

Before I go any further, please hear this. I am in no way, shape, or form saying that creating strict boundaries with people is always bad. In cases of abuse or other extreme circumstances, please do separate yourself and get the help you need. Sometimes reconciling isn’t in the cards—I totally get that. But often, in regular circumstances (whatever that means), it is.

Cancel culture is all around us, and it extends well beyond politics and into personal relationships, although the practice is the same.

You don’t agree with my political candidate? I can’t talk to you ever again. You’re cancelled.

You dared to protest the most recent social issue? You just don’t get it. Cancelled.

You dared not to protest the most recent issue? You clearly don’t get it. Cancelled.

Something needs to change.

When the topic of setting healthy boundaries first entered my world a handful of years ago, I was all for it. At the time I was in the middle of raising and homeschooling three very young children and helping plant a church. It seemed there wasn’t one spare second in the day to call my own, which didn’t sit well with my mental health. I’m an introverted gal who craves me-time like chocolate.

When I started functioning more like a robot and less like a human, I finally read a book on setting prayerful, healthy boundaries, and it was super freeing. I totally encourage this sort of intentional boundary-setting. My entire family grew healthier because of it.

What I didn’t do was cut people and things out of my life based on what would make life easiest and happiest for me. In my boundary-setting, the focus wasn’t ME. My new focus was allowing God to guide my time and commitments. He loves to help people do that, by the way.

It saddens me to watch people today hijacking the word “boundary” to instead mean “cancel.” It saddens me to watch families split apart because of ultimatums and hard hearts; an unwillingness to look beyond one’s self to see the bigger picture.

The word “sacrifice” has nearly become a dirty word, and social media all too often cheers people on in these selfish behaviors. Why would I sacrifice anything for someone else if I could just cut them out of my life? Why would I put forth the effort it takes to reconcile relationships that don’t serve me the way I desire?

Because that’s what we’re called to do.

As Christians, we are called to serve others (1 Peter 4:10). We are called to forgive (Colossians 3:13). We are called to love everyone, including our enemies (Luke 6:27-28). We are called to share the gospel (Romans 10:14-15).

Here’s the Jessie-paraphrase: We are called to get over ourselves for the sake of others.

Admittedly, most of these callings do not come without struggle. So, what then? Do we cut these things out of our lives because they’re too hard? Or do we press on with the strength of Jesus, letting him guide us and carry our burdens as we go?

In the world of politics and in a society filled with strong opinions on all sorts of issues, sometimes we just can’t seem to win. Somebody, somewhere is ready to cancel (or set a “boundary” with) us as soon as we open our mouths.

Instead, what if we did whatever was in our power to find common ground and encourage reconciliation? What if we agreed to disagree without entirely writing off the other person? What if we tried speaking and listening with peace, holding onto the humble and forgiving notion that maybe, just maybe, none of us has it all figured out. There’s always more to learn and ways to grow in understanding.

If enough of us lived that way, our world just may be rocked. But it’s not something we can accomplish alone. Nope, we need lots of grace and strength from our Creator in order to march on, doing our best to show Jesus to the world through our lives.

Dear God,

Relationships can be so challenging. Please help us strive for peace, being willing to speak in love, ready to forgive, and willing to serve, rather than doing what’s easy. Where others have cut us out of their lives and we feel deeply wronged, wrap us in your comfort—the peace that truly does surpass all understanding. Help our hearts stay open to reconciliation where appropriate as you work in the hearts of all involved. We crave your mighty works in our relationships, Lord. Make the impossible possible, and give us strength to follow your example even in the storm. Thank you for being good all the time. Thank you that we can trust you with our lives and the lives of our families and friends. Thank you that your purposes are higher than we can see. Amen.

Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences on the matter of boundaries—just drop me a comment below!

And if you haven’t already claimed yours, I’d love to send you a Seven Day Prayer Guide for Parents, which is FREE just for signing up to receive new posts and updates (which usually occur 1-2x/month). Just enter your email in the sign-up box (either to the side or to the bottom of the page)!

6 thoughts on “The Truth About Boundaries in a Cancel Culture

  1. Jessie thank you for this timely post! What a wonderful message and I agree with every single thing you said! I love that you wrote “What I didn’t do was cut people and things out of my life based on what would make life easiest and happiest for me. In my boundary-setting, the focus wasn’t ME. My new focus was allowing God to guide my time and commitments. He loves to help people do that, by the way.” This is key, isn’t it?

    There are definitely times when we are to pull away from certain people for a time, but not simply for the sake of our own comfort. The main thing is just as you so eloquently said…allowing GOD to guide our time. We are to walk closely with him daily and listen for his leading. We need to pray not only for his help in our being open to his whispers day to day in this area but also for him to help us to obey. He says he will!

    Thank you again for such a thoughtful article.

    1. Thank you so much, SJ! 🙂 I’m so glad you found this message to be true. Yes, it all comes down to obedience and following where God leads, doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and have a great week!

  2. I love your emails. I use them as my daily devotionals. I have even sent to a friend of mine who had passed it on. I would like you devotional please. Thank you

    1. Thank you so much, Christell! I’m so happy to hear God has used these messages to speak to you. I don’t have an actual devotional to share with you, but I wish I did! 🙂
      If you haven’t already, and it’s something that would help, you can get a free copy of my Seven Day Prayer Guide for Parents when you sign up to receive updates. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, and have a wonderful week!

  3. Jessie what a timely message!!!! I am literally going through this with a very loved family member. I was canceled….So heartbreaking but there’s hope! Thank you for sharing your heart and writing such wise and truthful words. You are a blessing!

    1. I’m so sorry to hear this, Connie. What a sad, difficult situation. Thanks so much for sharing. Saying a prayer for you and the other person right now, and believing for reconciliation!!💕

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