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  • Pastor Nancy Switzler

Everything Isn't Terrible! Part 5

 Dear Friends,

We are still celebrating Easter! So, let’s all say together, Jesus is Risen! 

I am going to speed things up a bit and share some thoughts from Part 2 of this book entitled “Your Anxious Relationships,” and includes the following chapters: 5 : your family; 6: your parents; 7: ugh, dating; 8: love; 9: making friends; & 10: finding community.

That’s a lot of ground to cover except that all of the relationships interact.

Or to say it another way, how you function in one relationship is not going to be dramatically different than how you function in other relationships. If we can work on how we function in our families (or any other relationship) we will function differently, say, at church.

In these chapters Dr. Smith describes the (not always helpful) strategies that we use to manage our anxiety. These can include: 

  • Distance – sometimes we need a break from people, but just because you stopped talking to someone doesn’t mean you are no longer in relationship with them.

  • Conflict – who easily pushes your buttons? How do you interact with them?

  • Over/under-functioning – this describes how some of us will do what really needs to be done by someone else because we just know they will never do it. Clergy are excellent over-functioners! Of course if you want to over-function, you need someone to under-function!

  • Triangles – one way to off-load our anxiety about person “A” is to tell person “B” all about it. How might you see unhealthy triangles in the congregation?

We all do these things in our relationships and to the extent that we can notice and function differently we can find ways to lower anxiety in healthier ways. Of course, if you decide to change your behavior, such as stopping your over or under-functioning, your partner in this behavior won’t necessarily say “yay!”, at least right away (see last week’s chart about defining self). 

For me, I have learned that my first reaction in the midst of a difficult relationship is distance.

I could even justify it with scripture, telling myself that I was “shaking the dust off my feet.” What I’ve learned is that staying in relationship is much more important. Yes, sometimes we need to move on for health and safety, but we need to be sure about what we are doing. As for triangles, I wonder how much healthier we would all be in our relationships if we would learn to say, “you need to speak to her/him/them.” 

Have thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.

Peace in Christ,

Pastor Nancy

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