(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Going Beyond Our Reach
By Brittney Perez
These last couple of months have been tough. If you had asked me how I envisioned 2020, I would not have told you that I pictured myself stuck in my house for X amount of months. In fact, that thought would have never formulated in my mind; I’m sure you could all say the same. Among the many challenges this quarantine has brought, one of the challenges for me that has been most significant is managing relationships. I’m an introvert by nature and typically wait for people to reach out to me, but lately, I’ve found a strong desire for social contact (made me question how much of an introvert I really am). Maintaining relationships during a season like this isn’t the easiest. While we do have technology like Zoom, FaceTime, Google Meet, just to name a few, which I am super thankful for during this crazy time, seeing people through a screen is just simply not the same as seeing them in person. When God said in Genesis that, “It is not good for man to be alone.” He wasn’t kidding. I’ve realized how much I have taken for granted being in the presence of people.
Back in March, when the “Safer at Home” policy started, I really struggled to understand what God was doing. Keep in mind, I recently started going to a new church earlier in the year and had just started getting involved in a new Life Group as well in February. I was in the process of forming new friendships at the church God had called me to. When these restrictions were put in place, I struggled because here I was in a place where I was starting to meet new people and build new relationships only to have them “taken away from me.” At least that’s what it felt like in the moment. One day I was walking at the park by my house, and I was praying, asking God why all this was happening. I pretty much told Him all my frustrations and exactly how I was feeling. As I was pouring my heart out to God, He spoke to me and what He said put me in a position of awe. He said to me, “I can build stronger relationships in a quarantine than in real life.” WOW. I remember I even told Him that didn’t make sense to me. How could stronger relationships be built when you can’t physically see or be around people? When I asked God what I felt was a perfectly logical question, He responded with, “I am the God of the impossible,” reminding me of His words in Luke 1:37 and Matthew 19:26. Once I heard that, I laughed inside and got a huge smile on my face because I know that is true. After hearing these words, I stopped questioning and began praising Him for being the God of the impossible! You see, my thoughts are finite. I see only in part, but God sees the whole picture, and He knows what He is doing – even when we can’t see it. “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8).
After having this assurance from the Lord, I found my perspective begin to change. That’s not to say I didn’t experience discouragement at times because I for sure did. But I remembered what God had said to me, and I would hold onto that. In the following weeks after the day at the park, I began to see that my newer relationships with people were growing. One thing I want to add right here is the fact that relationships are a two way street. You can’t always expect people to contact you first because if you do you may find yourself being disappointed. Sometimes people will contact you first, and sometimes they won’t. It also takes effort on your part to keep in touch with people. I think we can get inside our own heads and believe that if people want to contact us then they will. This isn’t necessarily bad thinking, but it’s in a way narrow-minded. Sometimes people don’t contact us for the very reasons we talk ourselves out of contacting them. They may feel they’re “bugging” or being too needy. They may think to reach out, but get busy and forget. There are so many reasons why we/others don’t seek to connect. The thing is, sometimes we just need to put our feelings aside and make an effort.
I began to see my relationships with people grow in ways I totally believe wouldn’t have happened or maybe would have taken longer to build had the quarantine not occurred. God was right when He told me He could build stronger relationships during a time of quarantine than in real life meeting up, but it took effort on both ends for that to happen. I can honestly say by making an effort to call people and see how they are doing and being vulnerable with how I was feeling helped mold these relationships into something stronger. Stronger than they were before the quarantine, and for that, I am so thankful. Never underestimate what God can do even in the craziest of circumstances. God can create beautiful things in tough situations. He can use you during this time to reach out to friends or family who may be experiencing heavy anxiety or depression or just simply want someone to talk to you. God can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power at work in us (Ephesians 3:20).
If you find yourself having a hard time developing or maintaining relationships during this time, I would encourage you to reach out to people. Reach out to friends, regardless if they have made an effort to reach out to you. You never know what they might be going through in this difficult season. And you never know how God may use you in their life. I’ve found that by reaching out to people, not only have I been able to encourage them, but they, in turn, have encouraged me. That’s what it means to be the body of Christ, and that’s what it takes to build relationships.