About the Author

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, heart-encourager, and grace-needer. She's the best-selling author of "A Confident Heart" and her new book, "A Confident Mom" is releasing Fall 2021. Renee is also the familiar voice of a friend to women around the world as former Proverbs 31 Ministries' radio co-host and executive...

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  1. Renee,
    I guess I’m the opposite…I was the girl who always colored inside the lines…afraid to take risks. I took God’s boundaries a little too legalistically and that’s not such a good thing either. Like you said, God doesn’t give us precepts to ruin our fun, He does so in order that we might enjoy life to the full. Not surprisingly He gave me two children who have both “pushed the envelope” quite a bit. Because I have loved them even when they colored outside the lines, I am reassured that God loves and forgives me when I do. Regardless, the sweet spot is always when our wills line up with His. Great thought provoking post this am. and I love those scriptures!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Sweet Bev, I have a little bit of good girl in me who loves to color in the lines and please people, but I’ve discovered I also have a part of me that wants to color outside of the lines, if I feel like it. 🙂

      Some days I feel like a contradiction, but I’m learning to love the straight and curvy lines God is using to draw a picture of the whole me. And two of my three kids are just like their boundary-avoiding mama so it helps me understand their freedom-loving, limit-resiting ways. Always an adventure, and so thankful for grace. xoxo

  2. When our little Audrey is frustrated by the limitations, both natural and mommy-made, we encourage her to calm down and understand why these boundaries are good. Just another example of this: We expect our little ones to passively accept what we, as grown-ups, still resist – and sometimes respond to with an adult tantrum.
    Jesus, please help us remember they are just little – they aren’t incomplete. They are whole people with real souls… Bless them and us…xoxox

    • Couldn’t agree more Nancy!! I think because I longed to be understood as a little girl it’s made me more sensitive as a mom to put myself in my kids shoes to understand what they might be feeling while helping them understand the good within our guardrails.

      It’s not always easy. Just this morning I walked into a room that my now 7 year old little girl (the one in today’s post) had gone through all of her drawers and pulled everything out to try on, and somehow water from her bathroom was all over the floor. Just as I was about to get frustrated with the disaster, God reminded me of today’s post and how much my girl loves living beyond her limits, just like her mama! 🙂

  3. Renee, Thank you for this wonderful post-I praise the Lord for it 🙂 As I read it, I realized that boundaries are a beautiful mercy from the Lord that, as you said, “are actually God’s way of fighting for my freedom: emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally.” I love being free in my Savior and in life, but I tend to respond in a perfectionistic way, finding that the balance only comes in seeking His heart and will, letting the Holy Spirit guide my steps. May we each live within His glorious boundaries today, knowing that they show His eternal and unfailing love for us 🙂

    • I needed to write this as much as I think we all needed to read it, An. As the words poured onto the page, God showed me His heart more and more. How He really is fighting for my freedom by setting healthy limits where I want to roam free. Jesus came to set us free, and gave us His spirit to lead us and show us what true freedom looks like in Him!! So grateful for his goodness and grace.

  4. Renee – I was just talking last night about setting healthy boundaries in various parts of my life. What a timely message to help me stick to my conviction. Thanks for your beautiful writing! I love how God shows up again and again when He wants us to remember something.

    • Hey sweet friend! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who needed to be nudged. Praying for you and that following your convictions will lead you to a place of greater joy and freedom in ways you could never have expected.

  5. Renee, this is excellent. SM can surely bring up the monsters: What If, If Only, Why Them…Ugly monsters stirring discontent.

    • Yes, it sure can! I’ve taken all SM apps off my phone to limit my access and it’s made such a world of difference. All good things can become not-so-good if we consume too much of them. 🙂

  6. Oh my goodness.
    I’m pretty for the Holy Spirit whispered in your ear, “I need you to write this just for Rachel Brown.”

    Literally every single word describes me, & what the Lord is whispering to my heart, to a T!!!

    Some days I have a really bad case of the “I don’t wanna’s”. And my heart knows that if I could only comply, that my life would be so much better! My heart knows that God is really trying to get my attention & my focus is completely under attack.
    But man, this selfish & rebellious part of who I am is strong! And honestly sometimes, that one wins.
    Other times, I am able to overcome it & I get so many things accomplished!!

    So thank you for writing just for me today. It is yet another reminder that God truly has my name written on the palm of His hand. He’s got my number & knows right where I am. And one of the best reminders is this, I’m not the only one!!!

    So from one rebel to another, let’s take a deep breath, focus on what God is saying right now, and slam the door on those “I don’t wanna’s”. We have stuff to do!

    • Oh Rachel, I love that this post felt written just for you. I was hesitant to make all my confessions but I knew it’d be good for my soul – and was hoping it would be good for other. Love knowing I’m not alone.

      It’s a daily process of embracing discipline for me and I’m learning to embrace this part of who I am while also letting God lead me to the healthiest place of balance and boundaries too! And when I do, life is so much better!! 🙂

    • The post was written for you, and your reply was written for me lol 😉

  7. Boundaries, when it comes to clothing this is my cross. I seem to always be searching, searching for that next fix. I really need some advise in this area. I believe if one stays away from clothing stores that would help? I’ve tried, and tried to no avail. I do well for short period of time, but then needless to say, back to square one. Yikes! Help!

    • Oh Geri, I so get it friend!! I came out of college with a lot of Credit Card debt from too much clothes shopping or eating out. And honestly, I was trying to fill a void in my life with food and pretty clothes. It took a lot of prayer, time and healthy limits plus wise friends to help me set good boundaries on spending and goals for paying my debt off. But eventually I did it.

      For me, the key has been limiting my shopping, or going with a friend or having a set amount I’m going to stay within and treating myself to something new (within my budget) every 3-6 months. Also, going through my closet and mixing and matching things to create new outfits out of what I already have is another fix I’ve discovered because my free spirit also loves variety and creativity!

      Praying for you and treasure your honesty. We’re all in this together. Boundaries, shopping, resistance to limits and embracing it all!

  8. “Until my heart understands the good within my guardrails…” What a beautiful use of alliteration! This wonderful post spoke to the writer and the rebel in me. I often joke with friends that I have always shunned the structure of corporate America with its rules about lunch hours and bathroom breaks. I will eat when I am hungry thank you very much! Thank you so much for sharing your heart and these wonderfully relevant verses. I too struggles with the competitive spirit of social media and have resisted the Lords gentle admonition to establish some boundaries for myself. You’ve given me the encouragement I needed to heed my Father’s advice.

    • Trudie, I’m an eat-at-my-desk when I feel hungry girl too! Lunch sometimes doesn’t come until 3 o’clock and I’m okay with that. Learning to love the free spirit that lives in me while helping her see the good within some guardrails.

      This post is my first public confession of my boundary struggles and it was good for my soul to write it! JJ and my 18yr old son laughed as they read it and said, “That is SO you!” Now the world knows. 🙂

  9. Renee, I smiled as I read your post, because I am so opposite. 😉 I like budgets and boundaries. When I know my boundaries, I feel safe to do whatever I can do within them. I admit though, there are times when I wish God would loosen the boundaries in certain areas of my life. When He chooses not to do so, I’ve learned to trust that His ways and plans are best for me. I’m learning to live within those places where He’s set me.

    Like you, social media can be a snare for me. I’m learning how maintain better boundaries there. Because those boundaries protect my thoughts and my heart.

    • Thank you Jeanne for sharing your boundary-loving perspective. My husband is the same way and so is my oldest son, but my younger two are just like their mama and it stretches me everyday.

      There are certain circumstances where I thrive with guidelines but even in those I need a little freedom to bring my very best to the table. So funny how God made us all so different. I love the beautiful ways we balance each other!

  10. Thank you for this encouraging and insightful post. Psalm 119 is such a powerful Scripture…so full of goodness. I’ll be returning to Facebook and Twitter tomorrow after another ten day fast…it has done me so much good. I was nudged into it in many ways and have again discovered the blessing of boundaries. I’m now thinking of picking two or three days per week to (briefly) visit these two types of social media. I want to be someone “who does not lift up his soul to an idol” and who above all else seeks God’s face (Psalm 24) and I know that for me right now these two types of media are turning me the wrong direction.

    If you’re okay with sharing this, I’d love to hear what you’ve decided on for boundaries with social media.

    • Not only does God ask me to set limits and boundaries, I welcome them. I have always been a structured person but I realize there are temptations that become tangents vs. tools in my life and my son’s life. As an educator, I don’t do social media but my son’s video games have gotten out of control so I set an hour a day limit on them and we try to find other things to do together, like bike riding and board games.

      I had to set a boundary on Saturday night with a male friend who always makes comments about my weight in public in front of my boyfriend. I did not raise my voice and I was not angry but I told him my weight was not his business and that it made me uncomfortable to hear these comments in public. I am 5’4″ and weigh 120 lbs so I am not sure what this man is talking about or why he feels the need to needle me about this. He pouted the rest of the evening and didn’t say 2 words to me afterward.

      Sadly, my boyfriend, who has known this man for 25 years, accused me of inducing tension in the evening and of not being any fun. In short, he sided with his friend even though I have told him for years these comments make me uncomfortable.

      I was in God’s hands and felt nothing but peace so I truly didn’t need anyone’s approval–but it’s hard when you say the truth and people don’t immediately come around. Hopefully this friend won’t say anything like this again…:)

      God Bless,

      Stacie

      • Good for you Stacie!! Sounds like you set some very healthy boundaries and I stand with you 100% on what you said. Whether your boyfriend agrees, God definitely isn’t cool with someone putting you down in public or even commenting on a personal area of your life where you haven’t invited his input. At 5’4″, 120 lbs sounds pretty awesome to me. Glad your heart is secure in Christ and you know how to set healthy boundaries for how you want/expect to be treated. That is a great trait!

    • I love Psalm 119 so much. It really is packed with endless goodness and authentic conversational truth from King David’s God-seeking heart.

      The limits I’ve set for better balance in my social media access include me taking FB and Instagram apps off my phone completely. That way I only have access on my computer which makes it a lot less convenient to hop on. If I want to post on Instagram, I load the app and then delete it so I’m not tempted to look at it throughout my day.

      If I stay in sync, I”ll give myself the option of a 10min morning or evening “scroll” to read comments on my page posts and check on a few friends via search bar, BUT I don’t look through my whole feed because that is what pulls me into a vortex of comparison or getting sucked into what others are doing in their beautiful lives– instead of focusing on what I need to be doing to be present in my messy beautiful life that day. 🙂

      If I still find my heart isn’t in a good place or I”m back on too much, I’ll go on a weekend or week-long fast to completely reset my social media loving heart. When I go on a fast, I”m always amazed by how much I don’t miss it after 2 days.

      Praying for you Anna as return to SM after your 10-day fast. Praying some new limits will help you be more present right where you are! xoxo

  11. Wow- thank you- a critical word in due season. This is a breath of fresh life-giving air for my heart. Praise Jesus.

  12. I was just sharing my issues with authority with a dear friend. This is so timely. Thank you.

    • Glad today’s post encouraged you. I think there is so much to learn about ourselves and God’s best for us in our resistance. This is a topic I could talk about for days. 🙂

  13. I’m with Bev on this, color in the lines. I have always had an innate sense of right and wrong. I allowed myself to be overprotected, it hindered me because I wasn’t always following the Holy Spirit’s lead. Now I know, I have no particular boundaries, He will overprotect me. In a way we are all still in the Garden of Eden, there is freedom, the only thing is they disobeyed and now we all have the knowledge of good and evil. And we still have a choice. Wouldn’t it be great to have never known what evil is? Some people lack common sense, wisdom, others are just rebels, yet there is freedom, grace and no condemnation in Christ, and as for the social media, the Lord whispers, that’s enough for now.

    • So good Rebecca. I thought so much about Eve and the garden as I wrote today’s post. She and Adam were given so so so much freedom and just one limitation – just one tree to stay away from. And Satan convinced them that God’s boundaries were keeping them from enjoying “all they could be and have” in that forbidden fruit.

      So grateful for His grace that will not give up on me. For His conviction that is relentless and for is willingness to keep letting me feel misery until I”m willing to listen to Him.

      Thanks for sharing!!

  14. Renee
    I am the opposite as well.
    I love boundaries. They make me feel safe and I know where I am at and I use them as a guidepost. I am drawn to career choices that relate to regulation and rules.

    • Isn’t it so interesting how God makes us all different and how it helps us see where we fit best. Love that you know yourself well and can see how it shapes your career choices 🙂

  15. I’m not sure how I stumbled upon your post, but I’m so thankful that I did. I don’t believe I’ve ever read words written by someone else that sounded so much like something I would’ve written! I can so relate to everything you wrote about yourself and your beliefs in this post. Thank you for sharing. I will now be following! Mercy, Peace, and Love be multiplied to you.Jude2

    • 3boyz2love I”m so glad you found your way here. Thank you for your note and for taking time to share. Praying God’s ways that led you here with be a sweet reminder of His loving lead in your life!

  16. I don’t think I like boundaries maybe I resist them. When the Lord says no I feel disappointed but then
    I realized he wants the best for my life. For instance right now I’m kind of sad because my youngest son was admitted at OBU but we couldn’t afford to pay it. We pray and ask the Lord to open doors but it didn’t happen. Well I have to understand that my son’s life is in the best hands the hands of our Lord. Even though it’s hard to hear a no I believe the Lord would bring something better.

  17. I am just like you in that I haven’t always been a rule follower but liked to do my own thing. But lately I have seen that I need to set some new boundaries for my own well being. Some things have come up and I know it is time to get on track with God instead of fighting what he wants to do in my life. I’m ready to make some changes in my life to stop following my wishes and follow what he wants me to do.

  18. Renee, from a class I took, I learned boundaries are for safety and for freedom. Safety to keep out what is harmful, freedom to walk where God is leading us. Keeps the bad out and the good in. This blog post is a reflection of what God is teaching you about boundaries. I didn’t know how to set boundaries either for myself, or for other people, and when I or they did something, or allowed something harmful to come my way, I would get resentful, angry, intimidated, overwhelmed, and exhausted. I’m not anywhere perfect, but I’m learning much better how to set the boundaries I need, and other people need for me to be healthy. Blessings, Joanne

  19. I love how God makes us all unique so that coupled with our different talents and gifts we can do exactly what God calls us each to do. I am definitely a person who likes boundaries and rules to follow and I usually do. 😉 Funny how God put me with my rule-breaking husband! I am opposite in almost every way! He pushes the boundaries to the limit! He’s spontaneous, I’m a planner! I’m beginning to see (after 41 years of marriage) that that is just how God designed things… so we can grow more and learn more when we are put with people who are nothing like us… We can learn more patience, see things differently, maybe for the first time, and stretch our faith as we see how others react differently to the same challenges or trials that we are going through.
    I am more likely to fix my eyes on Jesus more and listen to Him with a keener ear during these times.
    Thanks for this eye-opener Renee!

  20. I have been guilty of living outside of the boundary lines. For some reason, I just didn’t like “being put in a box.” I had to learn that living within God’s boundary lines are always safe. It’s His way of protecting me. Everything He does has a specific purpose for our lives. I choose to walk in that purpose & within His hedge of protection. Thanks, Renee, for the beautiful post.

  21. I don’t like being told I can’t either. I feel I’m being ‘denied’ something! It is the biggest challenge in my walk with God, actually, because when He sets boundaries, my first response is to sulk. Which then affects my prayer life because, well, I’m sulking and I’m feeling guilty for doing so. I thank God, however, because He revealed this issue to me and I am working on it and on how I handle disappointment and limits/boundaries generally.

    I used to feel so guilty about these ‘sulking’ moments which would put distance between God and I, and I would feel so ashamed when I finally came around back – the prodigal son himself. Once I was meditating on Prov 24:16 and I felt like God was telling me that it was okay to fall. As long as I kept working on it. As long as I kept getting up and kept trying to do better next time. This helped with the shame and the guilt!

    I am not yet where I want/need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be!

  22. Oh how awesome. I am just like you. I love been wild and free. I love to do things at the drop of the hat and just go on adventures. My dad used to say I should be a gypsy. I married an adorable man and friends who are structured and afraid to take risks unless thought and measured out. God has a sense of humour. This is so great for me. God often has set boundaries for me and at the start I felt like he was killing fun and joy but as I have come to know God better he just does it because he loves me. I have found freedom with in my new boundaries. I have found my friends and husband are doing more wild and Fun things with me as I have shown them time and thinking space I have also become much more relaxed and free with my new boundaries but still me. God is such a good Father.

  23. I try to fix things even if it’s not my situation to fix. I feel God is telling me to stop ✋ and let Him fix the situation. It’s really hard for me to do this.

  24. I’m the girl who stands on the corner when there are no cars coming but the hand says to STOP.
    But God has been dealing with me about areas in my life that I need to set new boundaries in but I just don’t like to change.
    I’m reading a book for my career on balance in seven areas of my life: Friends, Family, Finance, Fitness, Field, Faith & Fun. To get to a place of balance I need to set new boundaries. The problem is…I have no problem following boundaries once they’re set…making the changes are hard for me to set on myself because I don’t like change.
    Thank you for being a vessel for God to flow through.

  25. wow this was perfect timing…I had just admitted out loud I hate being told I can’t do anything…even silly things! Thanks for sharing and I will definitely be spending time working on this!

  26. Renee,
    I like some boundaries. Call me a nerd or a geek, but I love budgets, bookkeeping. There are areas of my life where I enjoy freedom. Freedom to do just what I please. God knows what’s best for us and He gives us boundaries to help us grow as Christians. I need boundaries in the area of TV & giving Him more of my time.
    Blessings 🙂