By Jeanine Campbell, Staff Writer
Humans were designed to live in harmony with one another and daily develop a deeper sense of community. Although relationships are fundamental to a meaningful life, students must intentionally develop habits that will move them towards greater relational wellness.
Residence Directors Kim Martin and Kaylyn Moran say, “Students have a tendency to gravitate towards one extreme or the other: rabid individualism or co-dependent relationships,” but neither extreme is a healthy option for students seeking relational wellness.
The individualism that keeps students from getting involved on campus or opening up to hall mates and professors cuts them off from the benefits of community. As Residence Director Laura Sallee says, community is important as a source of truth to combat the lies students believe.
Neurologist Daniel G. Amen says this truth can offer reality checks and new ideas that protect against “stagnation, depression and hostile behavior.”
Amen also says surrounding oneself with positive people will instill confidence and “help breathe life into [one’s] plans and dreams.”
In fact, his neurological work has shown that “enhancing emotional bonds between people will help heal the limbic system,” so getting along with others actually improves well-being on a physiological level.
Still, involvement in community should not be taken to the extreme of co-dependency, which causes students to avoid being alone, to rely too much on their friends to feel okay and to “fear losing their relationship over standing up for themselves and their own needs,” according to Martin and Moran.
community is important as a source of truth to combat the lies students believe.
As Sallee says, it’s necessary to “make healthy boundaries and say no once in a while.”
She advocates for a “centered relationship with Jesus” as the first source of health and truth, which leads to more authenticity with others. In addition, according to author Lou Priolo, the fear of conflict that co-dependency promotes forfeits “the peace of God that comes from standing up and suffering for the truth.”
After all, as Priolo says, “peace not only is the absence of conflict but is often the result of it.”
Martin and Moran encourage students to remember that even good relationships get hard, and if they resist giving up right away, the conflict “can help to expose sin and selfishness in a way that leads students towards growth.”
Martin, Moran, Amen and Sallee each empower students to take personal responsibility in relationships in order to improve them. Ultimately, as students proactively pursue a balanced place in community in order to build relational wellness, they should look to the best model for healthy relationships, the image in which they were made: the community of love and submission in the triune God.
According to Martin and Moran, “In the very structure of being human is the importance of loving and being loved by another. We were not created to be solitary beings.”