Anxious relationships

I came across an article the other day authored by Peter Steinke, noted church counselor. In light of the demonstrations following inauguration of President Donald Trump, it may be of interest. Mr Steinke’s comments regard the relationship of members of Christian Church congregations, but they speak to all situations as you will see.

“All relationship systems become anxious. Anxiety is free-floating. Anxiety is an alarm mechanism. It alerts us to potential danger. Anxiety magnifies differences. It provokes change. It prods and pushes us toward innovation or transformation.

“If anxiety reaches a certain intensity however, it prevents the very change it provokes. It interferes with our ability to think clearly. We lose our head or cool, as we say. We become reactive instead of reesponsive.

“Two types of anxiety may be distinguished; each leads to differing result. Anxiety may be acute or it may be chronic.

“Acute anxiety is crisis-generated; it is situational or time-based. We are suddenly irritated or jolted by some event. In the church family, acute anxiety may come when we have budgetary difficulties, a loss of a pastor, a building program, an influx of new members, or other significant change.

“Chronic anxiety is habitual; it’s always there; even the slightest change or trivial annoyance incites reactive behavior. The automatic alarm system of our mind — meant to be temporary — becomes perfunctory. Chronically-anxious people keep their focus on others. They are easily and quickly hurt. They see themselves as victims.

“Someone has anxiety if it is acute. Someone is their anxiety if it is chronic. Acutely anxious people regain their perspective; they can control their reactions. Chronically anxious people reduce everything to all or nothing; lines are drawn; they blame and falsely criticize; governed by instinct rather than insight, they cannot be stopped by reasoning or appeasement. With the chronically anxious, the contentious issue is not the basis of their reactions. Even if the issue changes, their chimes are still ringing. They keep adding emotional fuel to the fire.”

Not a pretty picture. And we saw it nationally in the wake of President Trump’s inauguration. We likely can identify its presence in every day experiences of life here on the Peninsula, and in our church families.

We are a sinful and rebellious people to be sure. Thank God He forgives us all our many sins, in spite of ourselves, for Jesus’ sake. May we hear His word of forgiveness and pray for a change of heart and mind in all things as we walk the road of life.

Noel D. Koss is interim minister of Star of the North Lutheran Church, 216 N Forest Dr, Kenai. 907-283-4153.

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