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  • Pastor Nancy Switzler

Everything isn't Terrible!: An Introduction

Hello everyone,


Some of you may remember me saying that I am participating in the Systems Academy at ELCA headquarters (Chicago). In this “academy” we dive deeply into family systems theory, and its relevance to our functioning as leaders/persons (4 times a year for 4 years- I am on year 2).


Family system theory is really all about how we function within our own families and how that way of functioning influences the ways we function with others. I was introduced to this concept when I was a student at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena (almost 20 years ago).


What I learned way back then was helpful and the two biggest takeaways that have helped me in my role as a pastor…or just a person were:


  1. The only person I can control is me. I cannot count the many times I have shared this concept in counseling situations. Because, for many of us, we so much want someone else to change!

  2. Responding rather than reacting makes life easier. Learning this is so useful in conflictual situations. I can honestly say that when I look back at some of my worse mistakes as a pastor, they were when I reacted rather than responded. It is a good thing that we have God’s grace for those times we fall!

At our March Systems Academy meeting the featured speaker was Dr. Kathleen Smith, author of “Everything Isn’t Terrible: Conquer Your Insecurities, Interrupt Your Anxiety, and Finally Calm Down.”


This excellent book is targeted towards young adults, but I think anyone can benefit from it. She presents family systems concepts in ways that are accessible and even enjoyable to read (at least for me). For the next few weeks, I will share some insights from her book because they can be super helpful for congregations as they navigate ways to be in healthy community.


Before I delve into the book, I invite you to reflect on these two questions:


  1. When have I tried to get someone else to change their behavior? How did it work out?

  2. What is the difference between reacting and responding? What examples do you have? Any church examples?

Next week I will share some insights from “Part One: Your Anxious Self.” Meanwhile I would love to hear your answers to the above questions.


Peace in Christ,

Pastor Nancy

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