“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest…” (Hebrews 4.11)
One of the blessings of this interruption has been to watch friends and families do more together. Playing board games, going for walks, and eating together (all within socially safe distance of course!). As a relationship guy that encourages my heart. It’s great to see us pulling together, but there’s also something that can pull us apart, namely-striving. Striving is a buzz word for Christians, however striving to a psychologist is very important. In Psychology, the practitioner is interested in how you push yourself through challenges and changes. To make life a little more interesting, we all strive a little differently. So, in the course of this big challenge our close friends and family will strive differently from us. Some people will strive by reading everything they can find on the virus. Another group will not want to read anything. Close friends may want to talk it, while others won’t talk at all. One group will stockpile goods, and another will resist that. Chances are if you are sharing life with a person who strives differently eventually there will be a collision. The difference will become an irritant. So, what can we do about that?
- Get grace! Hebrews 4 concludes with an incredible invitation: Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. We need that grace so we can practice point 2.
- Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you… After studying thousands of couples, Dr. John Gottman discovered that nearly 2/3 of relationship conflict is about perpetual, unsolvable problems. This doesn’t prevent happy relationships—it’s how couples manage perpetual problems that makes the difference. (see: https://www.gottman.com/blog/reaching-compromise-second-part-state-union-meeting/)
- Receive the difference as a gift. Our thinking typically has bookends to it. We know where we are stuck and we mentally project to a point we’d like to get to. Then, that becomes our mental focus. However, it is limited. It’s just one possibility. That’s where we can get stuck in our thinking and irritated by someone who thinks differently. But, having relationships with different kinds of thinkers can liberate us from that entrenchment, IF we can accept their approaches as a potential gift to us.
This virus has demanded massive amounts of striving from all of us. Let’s not forget that we are in this together. That each of us may hold an encouragement, idea or plan that helps us negotiate the challenges more gracefully.