I met my husband 10 years ago. For me, it was attraction at first sight.

The first time he introduced himself I was blown away by his boldness. He was man enough to introduce himself and start a decent conversation. Unfortunately for Nick, he introduced himself to me THREE TIMES in one week which left me feeling like I clearly hadn't left a lasting impression on him. THREE TIMES!! So I pushed aside the strong chemistry and 'friend zoned' the heck out of him. Ha. Nick, on the other hand, went home thinking, 'wow I've met three hot chicks at church this week'. He's not that superficial I promise! In his defence, I had three completely different looks each time he met me [thank you contacts, glasses & hair straighteners].

Our comedic introduction lead us to a good year of friendship, and we got to know the best and worst of each other without the pressures/distractions of a serious relationship. It wasn't the way I had previously broached relationships but God in all His kindness knew I needed that year, an unseen boundary in our relationship, to see the true character of this man in all circumstances. To trust and be trusted. To form a friendship. 

Boundaries. They sound boring right? They aren't something I have always appreciated. Growing up in a home with domestic violence meant many healthy boundaries were crossed. Physically and emotionally. So I lived a fairly boundary-free life. I bet right now you're thinking 'boundary-free' equals 'went off the rails' right? Wrong! For me, it was an oppressive, paralysing state - where I lived to please others at a cost to myself, and didn't know my voice mattered. Even outside the home, I let people bully me, take advantage of me. I attracted friendships that were emotionally manipulative. I didn't know how to say no or stand up for myself.  

i didn't full y understand the freedom that came with healthy boundaries until with hindsight, i saw the prison of living without them.

Young person! Boundaries aren't as bad as we make them out to be! Healthy boundaries aren't the fun police, they stem from values created to thrive in life; birthed from a place of love and respect - for yourself and others.  Hooking up with a random or becoming a serial dater to fill a sense of loneliness, to make yourself feel good or 'just because' can be damaging to yourself and to the other person. When it's all said & done, you will still be left facing the same issues of loneliness, co-dependency, poor self esteem. It's not a Hollywood movie. It's real life. With real emotions. Real baggage. Real people. And it really hurts. Eventually.

I stayed single for six years before I dated Nick. Stayed being the operative word. I didn't settle for just anyone. I found my voice. I set myself some boundaries. I said no to unnecessary hurt.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Growing up I had no idea such a relationship could really exist. One with such great trust and intimacy. We work hard on our marriage, and it creates this amazing space to have so much fun. Nick is one of the most selfless humans I've ever met. He's grounded, honest, generous, has great compassion for people - and he loves Jesus. It would be a rare week that goes by that I don't thank God for this beautiful man. Oh and we've learnt 'the art of fighting well'. Yes we fight. But we've set healthy boundaries around how to do that, and we sought the help of a counsellor. It was a really important desire of mine as a child from a DV home that conflict could be dealt with in a healthy manner. See how great the right boundaries can be!?! 

So what would I say to my 16 year old self; to the girl yet to realise her home life wasn't normal, whose brokenness had her looking for love in the wrong places, whose life was boundary-free?

I would say, 'chin up sweet pea'. Life is going to turn out just fine. Stick with Jesus. In Him you'll find the hope of the world. No hurt is too great for Him to deal with. No life is to damaged that He can't redeem it. Think long and hard about what you want in a relationship. Find your voice. Start the wild adventure of discovering & living out your purpose on this earth. 

Oh and I would say... PS - get an eyebrow wax. You'll thank me when you look back at your school photos.

Kirsty Emery xo

Kirsty and her husband Nick are pastors at Hope Centre. They live in Brisbane, Australia, with their two sons Levi & Jackson.

If you think you may be living in a home of domestic violence, or know someone who is, go to for a safe list of ways to get help.