Now that we are all (or almost all) hunkered down to protect ourselves and each other from the pandemic, let’s rethink our relationships.
And what do our relationships there look like? Most of our personal contact is via social media, some in person, and some by long distance.
First, we have acquaintances, folks we may not know personally but who have connected with us electronically or in passing. We may not know a lot about each other, but we still “chat” and express opinions.
Second, there are friends and family, some of whom we rarely see except for their profile pictures and an occasional post. We’ve connected to keep up on each other’s lives and maybe download a picture or two.
Third, there are those close to us, maybe with whom we’re stuck at home, spending more time that we ever dreamed (or wanted, to be honest). They just might know us better than we know ourselves.
So what do we do with these relationships?
First and foremost, be gentle.
We’re all hurting in one way or another. Some folks are sick, some recovering from illness or surgery that happened prior to all the restrictions. And, sadly, some are mourning the loss of loved ones. Then there are those, especially elders, who are stuck in their homes, not able to be with family.
I’m in the latter group, although not as isolated as those living in elder-care facilities. At least I can go to the grocery store or to a restaurant for take-out food. Others cannot.
Then, there’s a group of folks who are forced to leave the safety of their sterile homes and risk contamination: first responders, health care workers, folks in the service industry, and those preparing and delivering food and groceries for the rest of us.
So, what does being gentle look like for each of us?
First, be kind in what we say online. We sometimes think that, because we’re not face-to-face with someone, we can let loose with whatever’s on our minds. Let’s not do that anymore. We don’t need to add more hurt to an already painful situation.
Second, speak gently to anyone we interact with. It may be in a text, by email, by phone, or in person. Let’s put a smile on our faces before we say a word to remind us to be kind.
Third, I realize patience is a virtue (and Proverbs 31 asks, “Who can find a virtuous woman?”) but this is the perfect time to practice counting to 10. Too much togetherness can foster resentment and anger. And being stuck at home with someone who bullies or abuses is almost worse than the coronavirus.
Let’s try it anyway. Be kind. Be gentle. Use the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. It’s not just a platitude; it’s good advice.
And take a deep breath. That’s probably a good idea even when we’re not isolated. As long as God gives us air to breathe and the ability to do so, we still have something to do with our lives.
Whatever that is, let’s do it gently.