Non-Anxious Presence: A D.S.’ Soup de Jour

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This has been a day of what I call “Full-Moonitis.” I don’t think there’s a full moon, but the way today has gone from calm to the tyranny of the urgent has been a real yo-yo. Just like the moon affects the tides, I sometimes think that it tugs on our amygdala’s and we lose focus on what’s real or imagined. Today was like that. As they say, “It ain’t paranoia, if they’re really after you.”

I spent the entire day doing what District Superintendents do most days: conflict management, trying to remain calm in the freak-out problems that everyone presents to you as if theirs was the only problem that exists. Everybody has anxiety. To not have anxiety is humanly impossible, but what makes the difference between the good edgy anxiety that propels you to a creative solution and the flooding anxiety that makes you freeze up in a fetal position is whether you react to stuff when the ship hits the sand or whether you’re responsive and thoughtful.

Thus, I spend a lot of my time saying, “That’s interesting,” or “Really?” instead of spouting off information or emotion. Calm demeanor, don’t shake your head, don’t smile too big or at all, unless you want folks to put words into your mouth and make out like you’ve agreed with their position. You have to differentiate, step aside, be a whole self and not perforated enough that their anxiety sucks you in. But, you have to remain connected, too. Here’s where a handshake, a closing prayer, a verbal hug or whatever lets the other know you’re still you, but you are in this thing with them, not for them. I only about lost it about 5 times today. Not bad for a fairly stressful day.

But, hey, I ain’t Jesus. I can’t solve all the problems, don’t know all the answers. Heck, Even Jesus scribbled in the dirt and made the bystanders think for themselves. I never did like the funnel-in-the-head churches that tried to tell you all the right answers before you even asked the question. There’s something wrong with that, promotes co-dependency if you ask me. I like the United Methodist way. We question everything except God’s grace, and disagree on about everything but that. We call it conference. Yet, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we conferenced with responsiveness instead of reactivity. Now that would be Holy Conferencing. I think I’ve actually seen it done. Well, anyway, I have about tongue-and-cheeked away my sarcastic cynicism. I feel more calm. You?

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