How anxious are you these days? The world has been a mixed-up place lately, and I know people who are stressed about health, including all the COVID issues; and jobs, careers, and finances; and relationships, including marriages and families; and politics sure are interesting. Right now, scientists are getting stressed about a new variation of COVID known as “Omicron.” I have friends who have stopped reading the news.
I know a family that lost their old mother, one year ago. She lived a long life, and she was weak and frail when she died, and I don’t think COVID was a factor. It was sad for them to lose their mother, but they were not surprised when she passed. The problem is the “estate.”
Their Mom had her own way of coping with stress; she was a long-time hoarder. She worked for many years in a large retail store, and she had easy access to bargains. Now, one year later, the children are struggling to sort and dispose of all the merchandise, unopened in packages, that fill the house.
They will probably never finish the job, and the little house needs to be sold.
Their mother was one of the nicest people I knew. She was always pleasant and friendly, and I was always glad to talk to her. The only problems that I remember were when any of her treasures went missing. She always seemed to know if one of those things that she could never use was not in its place. She could get anxious and demanding.
Maybe you can relate. Their mother had hoarding disorder, and sometimes our old relatives get like that. The children cleared safe pathways on the stairs, in the house. They were afraid that their mother might trip and fall over some of her treasures.
I will leave the details to professional psychologists, but that hoarding behavior fits in “Cluster C Personality Disorders.”
I have been told, that pleasant old lady had a hard life, and she had reasons to be anxious. Somehow she felt better about life, more at peace, when she gathered her treasures and kept them in boxes, in her house. Whenever I visited, I remember that I had to stand. All the chairs were piled high with packages and boxes.
According to the experts, “Cluster C” includes at least three types of disorders, and they can take over our lives, when we get too anxious. We can be “Avoidant”, “Dependent”, and “Obsessive-compulsive.”
We can be shy and reclusive, hiding away from other people; or we might crave direction and approval from others, and avoid directing our own lives; or we can organize things and people in a compulsive way. That nice old lady liked to avoid people, in her house of treasures, and she invested years into gathering and organizing all those bargains.
I’m not qualified to diagnose, but the family knows. Their mother found a way to cope with her stress and anxiety, and this gave her peace. Her hoarding was like a religion or like the presence of a god in her life. It gave her meaning and peace of mind.
You have been to churches where the leaders were too anxious to organize all the anxious sheep. Those churches easily grew into sects and cults, with too much control and too many submissive followers. Our stress and anxiety can give us new gods, who bring us peace. If you find a group like that, beware. They don’t want to be corrected by anyone; they want to keep their illusion of peace.
Maybe it’s just me, but I see Cluster C anxiety in our efforts to cope with COVID, and I see it in some churches and religious groups. Truth is not the main concern. Leading and following, and obsessively organizing becomes the path to peace.
People can be cowardly – clingy – compulsive, but the root is stress and anxiety, a lack of personal peace.
Truth, religion, and even our sense of God can be just ways of being less anxious. If I was an Atheist, this would be an important argument. On the other side, I am a Christian and I can see how some aggressive Atheists find peace by being obsessive and compulsive and telling other people what to believe, or what not to believe.
Take that, you guys!
So, how do we fix this human problem? If our anxiety gets out of control, we can find peace, and maybe a new meaning for life, but this could ruin us.
None of us are immune.
We can easily miss this message in the Bible. Jesus told us: I am leaving you with a gift; peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (John 14: 27)
If we don’t find that peace, we will find another, and a personality disorder can become like a new god, our source of peace and order. We can be dangerous to ourselves, without anxiety.
The Bible is filled with the word “peace” and if we are honest, we need real peace, these days. That is one good reason to find God. That person promised us peace, and that is not a small thing. Cluster C disorders will only pull us down and make life worse.
We have instructions, three thousand years old:
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress; I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62: 5 to 8)