Thursday, March 29, 2018

Beating Anxiety

Years ago I was part of a group of clergy who took a course through the Center for Family Systems Theory of Western New York.  The name is quite a mouthful, but the premise behind Family Systems Theory sounds good.  Sometimes called Bowen Theory, it is  rapidly becoming one of the most popular and effective methods of problem solving. Unlike conventional psychological theory which focuses on the individual, Family Systems Theory encourages people to think of issues in terms of a multigenerational family or a “system.” This approach encourages people to move away from blaming others and towards individual responsibility.

The anxiety we've been feeling in the church, and the conflicts and dissensions that have come up asa . result, I've remembered a little of what I've studied, and I plan on digging it out again and refamiliarizing myself with the theory.  I have been been remember a lot about the role of anxiety in our relationships. We can usually get along with others just fine until anxiety is increased. That’s when things start to boil over, and we start to loose it. But I remember that often just one person in a family or group, remaining calm, can have a calming affect on the entire family or group.

We call that an un-anxious presence. What would it look like in our preset church struggle, if we could be an un-anxious presence in the midst of the anxiety around us? Would that make a difference?  When I think of Jesus, I picture Him as a very un-anxious presence. Pharisees and Temple Priests and other religious leaders were always trying to catch Him at something that might validate there ministries, and prove Him wrong – yet He never became anxious (well, almost never – He did sort of loose it when they turned the temple into a marketplace).

That kind of calm in the midst of anxiety is what is needed today. I'm not seeing much calm in our current struggle.  There are a few people trying to stay above it.  But let's all try. Let's try to focus on the positives, and remain a calm and peaceful presence no matter what.

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