Thursday, August 4, 2011


One of the houses in which we sojourned offered hot water in the downstairs bathroom that could redden skin in the split second it took to reach from the loose hot to the stuck cold handle. Contrarily, the hot water in the upstairs bathroom where we showered took longer to get warm than a dead mule to move. Such was the water system in that house.

Organizations, be it a family, a senior care facility or a congregation, have developed a system for dealing with anxiety, pain with an uncertain cause. These systems range in effectiveness.

We all agree that anxiety is a miserable experience. One of my favorite people used to describe her anxious spells as the “icks.” A professional person, she sat in the back row in church.

I quickly learned to turn the cold water on before the hot. In every congregation we have served there was one person who had learned to start yelling as soon as he felt anxious. Dementia does the same because controls have been lost. A previous resident liked to “poke” her family and then refused to respond when they jabbed in return, claiming to dislike conflict.

When we become so obsessed with the temperature in the room, the minister’s leadership, or our spouses’ driving that it interferes with our ability to live, worship God, enjoy the car ride with our mouth shut, that’s a concern.

If we are expending so much energy on the worry that we can’t function effectively, we have a problem that needs to be addressed. Our coping system is not working effectively.

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