During this time when the world is facing a pandemic and mandated quarantines, feelings of isolation are leading many to reflect on the meaning of relationships and its significance. The inability to touch, hug and gather together with our friends, families and loved ones has disrupted life as we know it. For many Americans in particular, the thought of food shortages due to widespread panic, restrictions on mobility and financial instability has broken the image of the American dream and the superpower that has long been associated with an untouchable nation. We are noticing our own fragility and our reliance and need for one another.
Our relationships with our neighbors and/ or fellow community members have come under the spotlight as food donators, cash app givers, and simple phone callers that inquire of our well-being and needs have displayed the heart of many, as well as the ugliness of some. High anxiety and fear have fueled a few grocery store arguments, brawls and even disdain for groups of people refusing to practice social distancing from a religious and cultural perspective, resulting in dire consequences.
Love it or hate it, we are learning to survive with each other. This does not exclude the abused spouses or neglected children mandated to stay indoors with their tormentors or the homeless that have no protection from the plague most notably known as COVID-19.
So what are we to do? It is my belief that one of many things this pandemic is unveiling is the inequity that has always existed between the haves and have nots. While distance learning has become a scramble to get families home access to computers and the internet, simply making sure families have a home has been the first step, most would not like considering as truth. These truths spill over into politics and into our sacred organizations with the questioning of the church’s role and relationship with humanity and social-economic matters.
What we have ignored and what we have focused on has been a heart-matter that is now exposed. Isolation is forcing us to consider our most neglected relationship, which is the relationship we have with ourselves.
Who are we when the type of car we drive doesn’t matter? Who are we when we can no longer hide in the pews and tradition of church-going? Who are we when we need the validation of others and their company but are rather forced to be happy alone?
This is the time when human weaknesses expose our vulnerabilities and our strengths must be put to work in order to survive the loneliness, the fear and the parts of ourselves that we have hidden away from the world, only to now deal with those parts in a cloud of uncertainty and instant change.
When the realization of change, uncertainty and vulnerability is embraced and accepted, only then can our relationship with God, self and others become solidified and transformed into deeper purpose, passion and productivity in the midst of a harrowing time.
Is it loneliness or fear driving our decision-making and the relationships we are possibly yearning for at this time? Allow that question to resonate in our spirit and heart. It is possible that many have been trying to fill a void, that will be healed through this season. There is nothing wrong with yearning for human connection, as it is a vital aspect of our human existence. But, with every yearning, check it’s root. Are we hiding behind those relationships and are we settling for the toxic ones just to feel better during tough times? Have we idolized our relationships and have we made them our biggest distraction from being still and hearing God and what he wants to communicate to us about us?
Relationships have many colors. They can be divine connections, avenues of support and growth and some can bring pain that pushes us to purpose or possibly kill us physically and spiritually. Maybe the biggest jewel regarding relationships at this time can be found in how we deal with the separation from one another. John 15:9 reads, “ As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
How can we truly love ourselves and the people we are unable to touch and keep company with at this time if we never take the time to learn love from a Father, a God that just wants to be with us and us alone? May we use this season to allow just that. -A.F.L.