Monday, April 15, 2024

Social Wellness Month

From the day we are born, we build relationships with those around us. The first relationship a child builds is with their mother and father. As an infant, they care for you completely – they feed you, clothe you, bathe you, burp you, and answer your every cry, even if they don’t know why you are crying! A relationship of trust and love is built. As you grow, you begin to develop other relationships, while continuing to build and expand upon those already developed relationships, first with siblings, then other family members, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, then, finally, with family friends and neighbors.

As you continue to grow, your relationships continue to grow and expand – you now have school mates with whom you become friends, and school mates with whom you don’t get along. You become involved in sports and other extracurricular activities, ever expanding those with whom you build relationships. You go off to college, move away from home to start a new job, and again expand your circle of relationships. Until the day you die, you will continue to build relationships, for better or worse, never knowing the relationships that will last a lifetime. And, hopefully, sometime during your life, you will begin the greatest, the most important relationship of your life – a relationship with your Lord and Savior.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” … So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man [Adam], and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:18, 21-22, ESV)

God created us to be social and interact with others around us. After creating Adam, He realized that none of the animals were suitable companions, so He created Eve. We were not meant to be alone, but to develop relationships! Studies have shown that those with strong social relationships are better at dealing with stress, healthier, and more likely to live longer. July is Social Wellness Month! It is a time to examine the relationships in our lives and focus on nurturing and growing them.

If you are going to be outside for an extended period of time – or even just a little – put on some sunscreen! And don’t forget to reapply every couple hours! Reapply even more frequently when around reflective surfaces and at higher altitudes. Avoid being in direct sunlight during the time of day when the sun is at the strongest, and the UV rays are at their strongest.

The most important relationship one can develop is with their Lord and Savior. In Deuteronomy 6:5, we are instructed to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (ESV) This instruction is repeated numerous times in the Old Testament, as well as by Jesus in the Gospels. Through a relationship with Him, we are never alone. We always have someone to whom we can talk and turn to in difficult times. Jesus demonstrated this numerous times. He would often step away from the crowds, and even His disciples, to spend time with His Father. The time spent with His Father gave Him strength and peace. Jesus didn’t need scientific studies to prove to Him the benefits of a relationship with the Lord! Do you follow His example?

Jesus states that loving the Lord is the most important commandment, followed by loving our neighbors. When questioned by those crowded around Him as to whom constitutes a neighbor, Jesus told them the parable of the Good Samaritan. Everyone is our neighbor! We are not to restrict with whom we build relationships! Sometimes the relationships we build may be short lasting, however, God can use even the briefest of interactions for His glory. Studies have shown that helping others has a positive affect on the lives of the both the giver and receiver! This Social Wellness Month, make it a goal to help others more and see how such actions affect your life and attitude!

As you contemplate the relationships in your lives this Social Wellness Month, also take time to pray for those who are not free to explore social relationships. Can you imagine spending 23 hours a day, locked in a small room all by yourself, year in and year out? Can you imagine never hugging someone, or giving a simple handshake? Can you imagine the only touch you receive, being one to restrain you? Can you imagine having no one to talk to for those 23 hours? And spending that other, single hour of the day, with limited contact, perhaps through a fence? This is the life of death row inmates. Often attorneys for death row inmates will argue that their time on death row, in isolation has driven them insane. Could it have? Pray for these men and women. Pray for their relationship, and yours, with Christ and with others.

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