Pastoral Care and Connections

Anxious? Who me? No! Why do you ask?

Anxiety is normal in abnormal times. We have not been in normal times for the past two years. We have been forced to repeatedly examine what is “normal,” which in turn triggers yet more anxiety. Just as we’re seeing COVID infection numbers drop, and our fears decline, a horrific invasion by an unpredictable tyrant is thrust upon Ukraine, increasing our anxiety about the possibility of escalation between world powers holding nuclear weapons.

We may be getting good at managing our anxiety, but it’s worthwhile reminding ourselves and forgiving ourselves for its impact on our behavior. Anxiety shows up in a variety of behaviors, some of which may be new, or some may be old and familiar: desperation, determination, overly controlling behavior, indecisiveness, asking others to solve issues (often so someone else is held responsible for it later), procrastination, rushing, wallowing, hyper-focusing on one detail, going down rabbit holes, conflict, overanalyzing, excessive worrying, distraction, change in eating habits and perfectionism. All of these may be signs of anxiety, and it’s worth noting that once we manage one behavior, like a game of wack-a-mole, anxiety may show up in another behavior.

It’s important to raise our self-awareness improving the odds that anxiety won’t govern our lives. With self-awareness comes the ability to make choices about what to do with the anxiety, such as asking for help. Both are better options than letting anxiety rule our lives and cause yet further stress in a never-ending cycle.

You may have found ways to manage your anxiety. Please continue to place them as a priority in your life. If they are no longer working, or you don’t have any coping mechanisms, I invite you to create a daily routine of regularly pausing and taking a deep, slow breath. Add some soft and slow music, or just sit in silence. If you’re comfortable, pray. Pray for yourself, pray for your family, your neighbors, your co-workers, and the stranger down the street. Pray for the people of Ukraine, and for the people of Russia. Pray for love, compassion, and safety. Pray as you breathe, and breathe as you pray.

With love and prayer, Rev. Kate

Pastoral Connections

•With deep sorrow, we share the news of the death of the mother of Ali Masalehdan on March 9 in Tehran. Hadjieh Masalehdan was 93 years old and raised eight children. May our prayers ease the grief of all the family.

•We want to thank Julie Childers as she concludes her two-year term of service on the Pastoral Care Team. During those years, and indeed before then, Julie was a welcome pastoral presence and a knowledgeable, experienced resource to members of our church community encountering medical challenges. The Pastoral Care Team has benefitted from her professional insights, recommendations, and referrals. Julie’s medical expertise and natural inclination for compassion will, no doubt, continue to be felt in our congregation in quiet but meaningful ways.

As Julie steps down, we welcome Marty Lieb to the Pastoral Care Team. Marty’s warm, gregarious vitality is a blessing to the Team and will greatly aid our reach-out to congregants. In addition to Marty, the Pastoral Care Team is Kathy Miller, Christine Beregi, Jim Cunningham, Bob Sullivan, and Jan Carlino.