Healthy Relationships

Over the past several months, as our family has hunkered down and socially distanced, like every other family, we found ourselves faced with more together time than we’ve ever had. While our hearts continue to be broken with news of each new person affected or lost to the coronavirus, we found our little family very appreciative for the forced pause on our otherwise busy schedule.

We have caught up on much needed sleep and figured out a schedule to balance school/work as best we can. We have flourished with daily bike rides and outdoor activities while happily indulging in catching up on books, movies, and tv shows we’d not had time for in the past. I’ve loved embracing with our kids the idea of “being bored” and the creativity that comes from hours at home with nothing on the agenda… and yet we are human. So, let’s be honest, woven between all of these good things are arguments, bickering, sarcasm, and exasperation!

Even the healthiest relationships are being tested during the constant close encounters and ours is no different or special in that way. I realized early on that constant good behavior by any of us was unrealistic so, as things started to get snippy around here, I was relieved to learn that our family therapists were available for online sessions and that has been a balm for us all.

Early on, I came across an idea from a mom on the internet. She realized her family had been apologizing to each other every night at bedtime and realized it was so helpful. I thought that was brilliant and we decided to incorporate it into our evening prayer time. We do our best to talk through and apologize for any unkind words or blow-ups together once things are calm at the end of the day and it has paved the way to discussing fears and being vulnerable. It’s not perfect but it is a healthy way to communicate, both through listening and feeling heard, when all we have is each other right now.

About that same time, I participated in a neighborhood Zoom prayer time. The centering text was on the serenity prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr. First, we analyzed the most commonly known 3 lines of the text:

GOD, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
 courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.


We listed things we aren’t able to change that bring us fear or frustration right now. As a prayer to combat these fears, we discussed Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” and Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

To help us contrast it with a list of things we are currently in control of, we read Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you,” 2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline”, and Proverbs 3:5–6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

To gain confidence in the wisdom provided for us, we looked to Timothy 3:15–17 “and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

I had never realized there was more to the serenity prayer past those first 3 lines; how relevant the words are to our current situation! By identifying our own fears, acknowledging the tools we have to get through this uncertain time, and looking to God as the guide through it all we are able to curate healthy relationships with each other despite the strain because of the hope God provides.

Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.

– Kelly Barsch


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