2 Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, 3 and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together.
Making and keeping peace can be a form of self-care. But it requires an effort.
I would argue that it takes less effort and is infinitely more productive than, say, expending the psychic energy required to stay angry at someone. Think about the planning it takes to avoid people at parties, family gatherings, or the like so you can continue to demonstrate your displeasure at all the ways they’ve hurt you.
Now, don’t get me wrong: there are times when self-protection requires us to keep our distance. There are times when anger at unrepented abuses and continued assaults on our humanity justify creating strong boundaries.
What I’m talking about is not that. I’m talking instead about the everyday slights, hurts, or mild insults that cause us to shrink back in avoidance rather than confronting. We often have the sense that the it would be better to keep our distance and just ignore the behavior than to speak up, let the one who has hurt us know how their actions have affected us, and try to restore the relationship. It feels like too much work.
But we don’t preserve relationships by avoidance or denial. That’s wishful thinking. We preserve relationships by talking through the rough parts and taking responsibility for making them better. I know it seems hard, especially if we haven’t experienced those kinds of healthy, calm, productive exchanges in our past.
But good self-care requires us to pay attention to our relationships. Our connections to each other are the closest things we will ever experience to God’s love here on earth. Caring for ourselves means caring for the relationships that nourish and sustain us. So today, let’s commit to making an effort.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
A difficult part of relationships is knowing when to confront someone and when to simply let it go. I would suggest considering a couple of criteria:
1) How much is it bothering you?
2) Does it seem likely to keep happening?
If something is bothering you enough that you aren’t able to resume a normal relationship with the person, or if it seems likely that this will keep happening without a change in behavior, it may be time to put in the effort needed to have that difficult conversation.
Prayer: God, you have created us for relationships with one another and with you. Thank you for times when we have been able to have productive, calm, and fruitful conversations that have helped us to heal and restore relationships. Help us to discern when these conversations are needed and give us strength to pursue them. Amen.