I am posting excerpts from pastoral letters written for the congregation of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Oviedo, Florida. These are offered with the prayerful hope that others might find perspective or encouragement in them.
The portion of the letter shared here is from CPC ruling elder Jon Boardman, as he reflects upon the challenges of social compression.
Social distancing has become a common phrase in our vernacular. But what about the opposite: “social compression” or “family compression”? Much is said about distancing ourselves from others to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, but how do we handle living with loved ones in a confined space for more hours than we are accustomed to doing? I love my family (there’s six of us), but spending all this time together under one roof tries one’s patience. And while spending all this time together, I find myself getting agitated, observing more flaws, and becoming more critical of the ones I love. So what are the guidelines for handling “family compression”? Here is what I suggest: exercise patience, kindness, and goodness.
Paul reminds us: “Love is patient and kind.” 1 Corinthians 13:4. Patience and kindness (and for good measure, I’ll add goodness) are the out-workings of love. We must keep in mind these three qualities/fruits as we love one another in our confined space.
Patience means “long suffering” and it denotes patience with people rather than circumstances. (Forbearance towards those who are demanding or aggravating. It never forgets the patience of Christ toward us.).
Do: be patient with each other; your loved ones will irritate you, but that’s because they are not you. Honor them in the uniqueness that God has made them. Don’t: expect them to be you or to know your unspoken thoughts.
Kindness is benevolence, generosity of thought, wishing good to other people.
Do: encourage one another and point out what they are doing well. Don’t: be sarcastic. It’s easy to be snarky and sarcastic when agitated, so hold your tongue.
Goodness is beneficence, generosity of deed, actually doing for them the good we wish them.
Do: serve one another; find what your loved one’s love language is and speak that language. In my family we have been going for walks together, baking treats, and playing lots of card games. I love hugs, so I’m looking to give or receive them. Don’t: isolate yourself and withdraw.
As we celebrated the passion week, we were reminded that God’s kindness [is] offering or providing salvation through Christ Jesus (Rom 2:4; 11:22; Eph 2:7; Titus 3:4). Believers imitate God and Christ whenever they are generous to others, but especially in extending benevolence to those who are not loving in return. So as we practice “family compression,” remember to be patient, kind, and good to each other.
In doing so, we honor Christ.