Be gracious with one another.
This has become the mantra in our home this year. When the lockdown went into effect back in March, there were six of us living in our home: three teenagers, Sunny, myself, and Sunny’s 85-year-old grandmother. School and church had gone virtual, which meant that all six of us were suddenly cooped up together in the house.
ALL. THE. TIME.
And as much as we enjoyed having some extra time together, there were also plenty of moments when we inevitably started to get on each other’s nerves. You’ve heard the phrase, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder?” Well, we discovered a corollary: too much time in quarantine together makes the heart grow irritable! Less likely to see that one on Pinterest, but still.
And somewhere along the way, whenever this would happen, we started saying, “We need to be gracious to each other.” We never quoted Ephesians 4:32 to each other but it became foundational for us in 2020. Here’s the verse:
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
When we would say, “Be gracious to one another,” we were basically saying, “Be kind, be tenderhearted, forgive one another.” And it seems we all had our turns. One day, I’d find myself saying, “Be gracious to each other,” as a way of breaking up an argument among the kids. And later that same day, Sunny would have to use those same words on me as a way of short-circuiting my frustration before I said something rash. “Be gracious to one another.”
And I found myself thinking about those words as spring turned to summer and we found ourselves in the midst of national conversations about race and justice, about the election, and about the efficacy of wearing masks. The potential for conflict and misunderstanding is sky high in these discussions. But one of the ways these conversations can be productive (rather than harmful) is when we engage in them with a little bit of grace.
The reality is that these past few months have been difficult for everyone. Based on my observations and the conversations I’ve had with people, I don’t think anyone has been at their best these past few months. We’ve all been banged up and bruised a bit this year. Everyone has been affected by COVID-19 to one degree or another. Certainly there are those who have contracted the virus — we understand that this has impacted them more than the rest of us — but we also can’t ignore the fact that all of our lives have been altered by all of this. So many small businesses have either gone under or are barely hanging on right now. Emotionally, we’ve been dealing with increased loneliness and anxiety. Nobody is really thriving right now. No one is living their best life.
And this is all the more reason for us to live out these words from Ephesians 4:32, to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, to forgive each other.
This is a time for us to be gracious to one another.