How to Restore and Maintain Relationships During Times of Hardship
Relationships are an important and unavoidable part of life. Let’s face it, they dominate the majority of it. And whether we like it or not, in this strange time of quarantine, we’re having to spend much more time with the people closest to us — those we live with. In theory this could be a great bonding opportunity. But as the weeks turn into months, being crammed is becoming the perfect recipe for conflict.
So then, how can we keep our relationships in-tact during uncertain times? Thankfully, the Word of God has quite a lot to say about this.
First, we must remind ourselves of the value relationships add to our lives. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” — especially in challenging times. The truth is, we need each other. We grow, learn, help, and benefit from one another. Despite the individualistic and independent-applauded culture we currently live in, people were created to live in commune with others; to share in relation and love one another.
Healthy relationships (or relationships with the right people) help us to grow in faith and virtue, exercise compassion, and continue striving toward God’s ultimate purpose for our lives.
Even though we’re in quarantine, and feelings of frustration are running high, take a few minutes throughout the day to be thankful for the people you’re around. Giving thanks for them will help to curtail some of those mounting feelings of annoyance as well. There’s an old quote, “The most difficult people in life are the one’s who will get you to Heaven.” Similarly, that which challenges us the most (when channeled the right way), will do us the most good in the end.
So, next time you’re feeling agitated with those closest to you (literally and figuratively), take a deep breath. Remind yourself of their irreplaceable value in your life. With God, there are no coincidences.
Second, Scripture provides us with practical advice on how to deal with conflict when it arises. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” In times like these, we’re bound to step on each other’s toes. We’re only human — we sometimes do things, even mindlessly, that end up hurting other people. What’s the best solution to this? Forgiveness and tenderheartedness.
Instead of condemning someone when they mess up or do wrong against us, let’s try and see things from their perspective. Ask God for eyes of compassion rather than judgement. Matthew 7:2 reminds us that in the same way we judge others, we too will be judged; and with the same measure we use, it will be measured unto us.
In times like these, we all need a little extra room; an extra measure of grace. After all, we are all going through this together. And, perhaps, the next time we make a mistake, they’ll remember how graciously we treated them.
Finally, Scripture shows us the perfect model of love — Jesus’ love towards us. In John 15:12, Jesus says, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Take a brief moment to think about the implications of that command. How has Jesus loved us? He loved us so deeply that He laid down His life for us; allowing Himself to be mocked, beaten, and nailed to a cross for our sins. According to John 15 and elsewhere throughout Scripture, this is the kind of selfless love we’re called to display. We won’t be perfect of course, but we can at least strive to do our best. And we can always look to Jesus for the proper way.
Yes, this is a stressful time … but let’s not lose sight of what’s most important. Let’s not allow current frustration from temporary situations to divide our relationships. With the help of our Lord and His Word, this is all possible. He will protect, heal and restore us — we just need to do our part.
(Now, go and give someone a great big hug. That’s just as much for you as it is for them…)
Written by Meisha Johnson