Lysa TerKeurst, founder and president of the popular online ministry for women Proverbs 31 and author of more than 25 books, is known for bearing her personal journey with marital strife, hardship, and infidelity in her writing. Past titles such as Forgiving What You Cant Forget and Its Not Supposed to Be This Way have sold over 10 million copies, according to the publisher, and her books regularly chart on PW's Religion Nonfiction Bestsellers list. Each book draws on scripture for guidance for repairing a damaged marriage, forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing, but in her new book, TerKeurst seeks biblical wisdom in the wake of her divorce. Good Boundaries and Goodbyes (Thomas Nelson, Nov. 8) features lessons she learned about when to end a relationship.

“The main reason I wrote this book, or any book I write, is that I need to learn the lesson most of all. I knew I needed to learn a lot about boundaries,” TerKeurst tells PW. In December 2021, the author filed for divorce from her husband following repeated infidelity.

“I finally was able to accept that what was before me was an unsustainable relationship,” she says.

TerKeurst was devastated by what she calls the death of her marriage. “I wanted with everything in my heart to save my marriage, but it can’t be just one person wanting it,” she says. Through her grief and in an effort to heal, TerKeurst went to counseling and did extensive reading that included biblical commentaries, psychological journals, and literature. That work inspired her to help others suffering from relational devastation and heartbreak.

In Good Boundaries and Goodbyes, TerKeurst shows how boundaries can promote healthier and happier relationships. She understands that some Christians have reservations about boundaries, as they may have been led to believe that they are cruel or unkind. “Biblically speaking, I discovered that boundaries are not just a good idea, they’re actually God’s idea,” she says, using examples such as how God created the world using boundaries, like those that separate light from darkness, and land from sea.

One of her favorite examples is of Jesus. She discovered that many Christians don’t believe he set boundaries since he sacrificed himself for mankind. “Jesus did lay down his life for us, but it was for a high and holy purpose — it was not to enable bad behavior to continue,” she says.

Though the book is about creating boundaries, it’s also about how to set them in a loving way. “That’s why the subtitle has that balance in it, loving others without losing the best of who you are,” she says. TerKeurst stresses that boundaries are not made to control others, but rather to protect love and allow it to flourish in a relationship. “Boundaries are not meant to shove others away, they’re meant to help me hold myself together so that I can live out the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, and patience,” she says.

In terms of putting good boundaries into practice, TerKeurst advises concentration on three words: access, responsibility, and consequences. In her own life, TerKeurst found herself giving too much access to those who were unwilling or incapable of being responsible with it. “I used to try and put a boundary to make others lift up their responsibility so that they would better handle the kind of access that I've given them,” she says. However, she realized she couldn’t force change on others. “The better way to do it, and probably the healthier way to do it, is to put a boundary on yourself,” she says.

TerKeurst’s message is bolstered by Jim Cress, her licensed professional counselor. At the end of each chapter, Cress offers advice and deeper explanation of concepts like triggers, accountability, and dysfunction. “When things started really going south in my marriage it was crucial that I go and get counseling, and yet I was really scared to do that,” TerKeurst says. She recognizes that others may be daunted by the idea of counseling. She believes Cress’s notes can help show readers that “going to see a good Christian counselor can be a wonderful thing.”

Though TerKeurst doesn’t consider herself a relationship expert, she believes she has valuable biblical wisdom to share. “The gift I can give my readers is that I have the same questions that everyone else has about the hardships of life,” she says, adding, “I have the benefit of doing theological and therapeutic research.”

The author is no stranger to offering advice based on her expertise. In 2020, she partnered with Thomas Nelson to found COMPEL, a writer’s membership site that offers training and community for new writers. The program offers a number of courses on writing, editing, publishing, and social media. The first COMPEL title, The Journey Home (Thomas Nelson) by Meredith Boggs, will be released in January 2023, followed by three more COMPEL books later in the year.

Janet Talbert, executive editor at Nelson books, attributes TerKeurst’s success to her great ability to relate to readers. “She communicates with the voice of a trusted friend or sister. She is a wise, curious, supportive author—one willing to go the distance with you,” Talbert told PW. She believes Good Boundaries and Goodbyes will follow in the success of TerKeurst’s previous titles because of the wide reach of its message. “We are all in relationships with someone: family members, spouses, colleagues, friends, and even ourselves. Female readers, in particular ages 20 and up will enjoy this book and benefit richly from the wisdom contained within,” she says.

TerKeurst is embarking on a book tour to promote Good Boundaries and Goodbyes starting on November 10. More details can be found on her website.