March 31, 2020

Will You?

As I write, our nation is consumed by COVID-19. It’s the only topic substantively addressed in the media, and related posts of all sorts – from data to rants to irreverent memes – abound on Facebook and Twitter. As testing increases, many results come back negative, some positive. Of those who contract coronavirus, some have no symptoms, many feel horrible for a time but recover in rather short order, and some become seriously ill and even die.

In particular hot-spots, medical personnel are stretched to their limits, and the governors of many states have enacted executive orders limiting freedom of movement to greater or lesser degrees. Most institutional schools are closed, leaving parents to figure out homebound learning on the fly. Workers who can do their jobs via virtual means have been sent home for the duration, computers in hand, but hundreds of thousands of others have been furloughed or laid off, spiking unemployment claims and jeopardizing their financial security. Some who’ve been deemed “essential” and must continue working worry that their health and that of their families may be at risk. Small businesses struggle within narrow profit margins to stay afloat, the stock market has tanked, and Congress recently passed a multi-trillion dollar “rescue” plan. People are either petrified or livid, sometimes both.

Whatever particular emotion any of us may be feeling at any given moment, it’s safe to say that our stress is through the roof. And that stress is undoubtedly putting strain on relationships – between friends and among extended family members, perhaps even between husbands and wives or parents and their children. In times of angst, the default position into which most of us unconsciously fall is a defensive one. We feel backed into a corner by the overwhelming nature of the larger issues from which we can’t run; because we can’t flee, we fight.

It’s hard – though not impossible – to step back and try to see things from another’s point of view. For the sake of relationship, though, it’s worth the effort. Because, whatever the casualties – from the virus itself or all the ancillary damage – we should aim to ensure at the very least that our valuable relationships don’t die during the pandemic.

And thinking in terms of the eight great smarts may help with that endeavor, as it does in so many other ways.

The different ways in which people are wired impact everything – how they process academic information, to be sure, and also how they react in crisis situations. Just as adapting to a child’s innate intelligence strengths improves his ability to learn his math facts, so, too, accepting that different people have different needs in the midst of our current circumstances can help to salvage relationships.

For example, a people-smart individual will crave time with others to discuss his views and feel secure, while a self-smart person will need to be alone to process what’s happening. The logic-smart will seek data; if they’re also word-smart, they’ll search for articles and research studies, but if they’re picture-smart, they’ll prefer graphs and charts. Body-smart individuals may struggle in very real ways with quarantine because of how it limits their level of physical activity. I’ve even seen nature-smart at play when a friend recently expressed hope that the environment may have a chance to heal as more people stay home.

Rather than becoming angry when a friend or loved one processes matters related to this situation differently than you, can you, instead, choose to take a step back? Can you consider how someone else’s “smarts” differ from yours and accept God’s design in each of you? Will you choose to seek understanding and peace with the ones who should – at all times – matter most to you?


Photo Credit: Tyler Nix

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