By Patrick Miller
If you’re like half of America, you’ve already watched Tiger King. If you’re not (🙋🏻♂️), then all you know is that people are accusing some lady named Carole Baskin of feeding her husband to tigers. After over a month of stay-at-home orders, I’m finally beginning to understand Carole. Hopefully my wife isn’t.
All jokes aside, here are five practical ways to make the most of the challenges and opportunities afforded by the lockdown:
1. Start with a mirror.
When someone else does something wrong, I think they’re the problem. When I do something wrong, I blame the circumstances. Miscommunication. Lack of sleep. COVID creates a fresh list of lame excuses. But here’s the truth: difficult circumstances don’t create character flaws. Difficult circumstances reveal character flaws. I don’t have a short fuse because I’m around my kids more. I have a short fuse because I’ve chosen anger more than patience in thousands of micro-decisions and that has shaped my character. Making excuses hurts relationships. Repenting and asking God’s Spirit to transform you refreshes relationships.
2. Make space for laughter.
Some people seem to think that serious relationships require a lot seriousness. I’m not so sure. Especially when you’re constantly with the same people. We need laughter. In my family that requires fart jokes. In your family or with your roommates that might require new games or fun conversation starters.
3. Set aside your agenda.
When you’re only focused on your own agenda, then your roommate, spouse, or child will always only be facilitating your goal or jeopardizing it. Helping or hurting. As long as they are obstructing it (usually by doing totally normal things like asking questions, relaxing, making a mess while cooking or playing with toys, or just generally being humans) you will be irritable and irritated with the relationship.
That’s an acronym my wife and I (supposedly) use once a week to connect. We share a strong Feeling from the last week, we Affirm each other, we express Needs, we Own a failure or sin, and we share how we’re doing Spiritually. You can do it in 10 minutes or two hours. But however long it takes, we find the structure leads to deep connection.
5. Take a personality test together.
25% of everyone reading this has already written me off. That tells me a lot about your personality. I’ve found that personality tests like Meyers-Briggs and the Enneagram are free and fun ways to share about yourself and to get to know others. Take the test. Then read the short personality descriptions out loud. Ask your roommate, What hits close to home? What would they disagree with? What do they want to think more about? You might even learn something that helps you weather the lockdown better!