When God asks too much…

SERMON SCRIPTURE –   A reading from Genesis 22:

1 After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” 6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. 7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. 9 When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

So what do you do when you are headed toward the life you dreamed, and circumstances intervene, putting you on a different path?

What if you look around and realize that the life you are living is not the one of your dreams? How do you understand where God is in all of that?
Just because something happens in your life, does it automatically follow that “this is all part of God’s plan somehow.” I hear people say that, and I wonder. Was it God’s plan that Abraham and Sarah would suffer the grief of barrenness for 80 decades just so God could bless them with Isaac? Was it God’s plan that Moses would kill the Egyptian and have to flee to Midian for 40 years? Was it God’s plan that the Hebrews would refuse to enter the promised land with Joshua and Caleb, necessitating that generation to die in the wilderness?
Well, you get the idea.
We need to acknowledge the story of Joseph, who does finally say in Genesis 50:20 –
Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.What we know from that is Israel’s understanding of how God used what happened to Joseph. It does not follow automatically that everything which happens has been orchestrated by God to accomplish some greater plan, regardless of how much pain and sorrow it may bring to one or to many. We must leave such a theology behind.
That said, sometimes scripture presents a faith understanding in which, like for Joseph, God does seem to ask a lot.  Let’s start with other Hebrew Old Testament stories.  In Genesis 12 we hear God ask Abraham and Sarah to leave their home, and family, and country, all that they know and love, to head out for an unrevealed period of time, over an unrevealed distance, to end up in an unrevealed place. We look in Exodus 3 and find God sending Moses back to Egypt in his old age to rescue the Hebrew slaves and spend the next 40 years leading them through the wilderness.
There are clearly circumstances, our faith suggests, when God does ask a great deal. Do we dare say that God asks too much? It certainly feels that way to us some times.
Look again at the story of the near sacrifice of Isaac. First we must recognize that this story comes from a very different place and time. The things about it that trouble us would not have troubled the people of Abraham’s day. We react violently and with revulsion to the idea killing one of our children, or even any child. Just think about the Casey Anthony trial, a young mother on trial, accused of killing her child. We are so offended by that on principle, “How could anyone do such a thing,” which is at least part of what makes the story so compelling to us. And there have even been times when, for some reason it seems to be mothers, have believed that God was calling them to kill their children as a way of protecting or saving them from some worse fate.
That’s not what is so troubling about this story – if we focus on a father a
lmost killing his child, we completely miss the point. Sacrificing children to the gods was common practice in Abraham’s day in the land of Canaan. That’s why generations later God must give to Moses laws prohibiting such practices, and why during the days of the prophets the people were judged for returning to the practices of their neighbors, which included ‘sending their sons through fire.’ (Deuteronomy 18:10-13; Ezekiel 20:31) No doubt, it would be painful to offer one’s offspring in such a way, but not morally reprehensible. That is not part of the story, even though it is central to our response to it. The morality of the bible stories, even that seemingly promoted by God and practiced by God’s people, can not always be ours.

This is a story about faith in the God who makes covenant with us. God had by this time thrice stated and reaffirmed divine commitment to the covenant with Abraham. And it has been made clear that Isaac is the means through which the covenant will be fulfilled. What God has asked Abraham to do is to release the means though which Abraham will receive fulfillment of God’s promise.
What promises do you think God has made to you? What promise of blessing, of grace, of forgiveness, of hope and healing and prosperity? What promise of salvation has God made to you, and how do you accept, receive and live it? What if God said, “I want you to sacrifice everything about how you practice and live out your faith. Give up all the things that make your spiritual life meaningful – the ways you experience my grace.”
Where else in scripture do we hear God asking much of us?
·        “Sell all that you have, give to the poor, take up the cross and follow me.” (Mk 10:21)
·        “Whoever loves family or friends or home or career more than me is not fit to follow me, is not fit for the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 10:36)
·        “Feed my sheep.” (Jn 21:16)
·        Follow me. (Mt 4:19)
·        Get up and walk (Mt 9:6)
·        Be healed of your disease (Mk 5:34)
·        Love your enemies (Mt 5:43)
·        Go the second mile. (Mt 5:41)
·        Turn the other cheek (Mt 5:39)
·        Consider others as better than yourselves. (Phil 2:3)
·        Love God with everything – all your heart, mind, soul and strength. (Mt 22:37)
·        Leave your family and your home and your country and go to the place I will show you. (Gn 12:1)
·        Sacrifice your son on this mountain. (Gn 22:2)
·        Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Rm 12:2)
·        Submit yourselves to one another as unto Christ. (Ep 5:21)

·        5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.  – Philippians 2

·        9 The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 10 So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.   — Exodus 3
What do you do when God asks too much?
What do you do when the direction you thought God was sending you brings you to a dead end?
What do you do when the means of blessing and source of hope is threatened, or even taken away?
Praise – Remember that even Psalm 22 which begins, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” continues, “you are the source of my praise before all believers and before them I will fulfill my promises to you.” (vs25)
Trust – Remember the counsel of Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Hope – Remember the promise from Paul in Romas 8:28 – God works for good in the midst of every circumstance for those who love God and are called according to God’s purposes.
Wait – Remember the prayer of Psalm 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his words I put my hope.
Thank – Remember Paul’s counsel in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Pray – Remember Paul’s counsel in Philippians 4: 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Think – Remember that your thoughts matter. In Philippians 4 Paul continues: 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Flags in the sanctuary of Christian worship

     If you realize that this is an issue at all – in any way a topic for conversation, then you are likely aware of the heated discussions it prompts. Some view the absence of the US flag in a sanctuary of Christian worship as tantamount to treason, and very certainly prove an utter lack of patriotism and love for the country which gives them the freedom to worship as they choose, a freedom bought with the blood of generations of soldiers – “freedom fighters”. In response to this argument flushed faces will proclaim the idolatry of any symbol in the sanctuary that calls our attention away from God and promotes allegiance to any other being or institution. They will sound like the High Priest and the Council of the Sanhedrin who called out “Blasphemy!” when Jesus at his trial presumed to place himself equal with God. It would be like Caesar erecting a statue of himself in the Jerusalem Temple in 70AD.      In the same community are many who lack the passion of either side with their stake firmly driven into the ground and their heels deeply dug in. And of course, the leaders – clergy and laity – who are seeking to follow God’s voice and will as they lead the congregation toward faithfulness in this and every other matter of dispute.
     I am an Eagle Scout, and have participated in innumerable flag ceremonies over the years, both in civic, public, private and religious settings. I love our country, her history, her present reality, and her potential future which outshines both. I firmly believe that our best days are ahead, even while I wish to honor the labor and sacrifice of all, soldiers and civilians, leaders and followers, rich and poor, slave and free, who have given themselves to build this nation. Paul encourages Christians to honor their political and civic leaders – to be good citizens of the state (Romans 13).
     I also understand that, as a Christian, my primary allegiances lie not with nation, or even with family, but with God. Often my allegiances will be in harmony, and I can honor my country, support my family, and worship my God in the same words and actions. There do come times, however, when my loyalties are divided. Paul cautions about this as he counsels those single to remain so (1 Corinthians 7:8). He also states that our primary place of belonging, our home, our citizenship, is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).
     So we see here, as is often the case, that scripture could be read and used to support both sides of the argument. The phrase “used to support” is telling for us in this instance, for such a utilitarian approach to scripture is inappropriate at best, and potentially deadly. Scripture, as a primary source through which we hear the Word of God speak, is not for our use, in the way a cookbook, textbook, or repair manual are. Our posture before scripture should be humble listening and receiving, whether or not what we hear appears ‘useful and helpful’. When Jesus called people to leave behind their family and their livelihood and follow him, that was not ‘useful and helpful’ in the normal sense of the word. That call ran contrary to what they would have said were their wishes and desires for their family, business, and life. Yet he called, and they followed. So must we.
     Symbols represent a greater reality. Christian worship is filled with them – candles, crosses, communion, baptism, the bible. All of these point us toward the same reality – God’s creative, self-giving, redemptive love. We gather to hear, receive, experience, affirm, celebrate and share this love. Everything we do in Christian worship points in this same direction. Anything that is done, said, or experienced to draw our attention otherwise becomes a disruption to our command to worship, and to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.”
     The US Flag is a powerful symbol, as a discussion of flag burning or other forms of desecration clearly illustrate. The flag engenders and stirs feelings of loyalty and love for the nation, for our fellow citizens, and for the high ideals that hold us together. Much of this is good and desirable and even to be affirmed by us as Christians. Many of those who came to found this nation did so in the hopes of living out their Christian faith free from the dictates of higher authorities other than God and the religious leaders in their own traditions. It would be a stretch to say that a nation built on land stolen from the native populations and through the efforts of slave labor were “Christian”. In fact, there is really not room in the New Testament for the idea of calling an institution beyond the family and the church “Christian”. The term Christian, first used in Antioch (Acts 11) applies only to the individuals and groups thereof who are followers of Jesus – nothing more or less.
    And that’s really, to me, the root challenge of having a US flag in a sanctuary where Christians worship. Its mere presence might suggest to some support for the notion of a Christian nation, and the United States being one, and other nations not being so, even if Christians live there too. And when we begin to think this way, then we may get confused and think that all the actions of our nation are sacred and sanctified and approved by God. And further, that our love and loyalty belong equally, or very nearly so, to “God and Country.” Such an idea is problematic, I think.
    On the other hand, we do live in the United States, and our flag is a symbol of identity and unity. We certainly ought to pray for our nation and her leaders continually, that God would lead and guide, and that we Christians who live here might follow God’s will and God’s ways, honoring God in the sanctuary and in the community. So, we pray for ourselves, that as Christians in the United States we might have a godly influence on our neighbors and nation, as an expression of the second half of the great commandment – love your neighbor as yourself.
    So, how can we symbolize that our first and greatest allegiance is to God alone. Further, how can we illustrate that our US citizenship bows in humble submission to God in our faith and life through the church? The presence of the US Flag in a sanctuary of Christian Worship, or anywhere on a church’s facilities, would need to serve the purpose of representing for ourselves and others that we are Christians who happen to live in and love the United States of America, that we, with our national identity firmly in tact, bow before the one and only God who is the Lord God, maker and father and redeemer of all nations, so that people from every nation, tribe and tongue are our fellow citizens in the kingdom of God, which is far and away our primary identity.


      One of the central realities in all of life is the relationship between stimulus and response. When I touch a hot skillet, my hand draws back, almost unconsciously. When I step on a tack I yell, and my foot rises rapidly from the floor. When I am driving, and someone swerves into my lane or an animal darts out in front of me, I immediately react. These things are true of the animal kingdom, and seem to be true also of plants, which react to changes of light, air pressure, temperature or moisture.       When we as humans lack the ability to experience the stimulus, then physicians tell us we have neuropathy of some kind. When we overreact to the incoming stimulus, then people say we are immature. When we lack the ability to respond to stimuli when we do experience them then we are depressed, withdrawn, catatonic or comatose.
      So, our goal should be to develop our capacity to respond appropriately to the stimulus that we do experience in our lives. Some have drawn a distinction between reacting and responding – reaction is involuntary and spontaneous, response is controlled and thoughtful. OK, fine, you say, but what can I do to move toward mature response from immature reaction?
      One of the keys is to recognize that between every stimulus and response there is a space. If we are startled, or we are a toddler, then the space is infinitesimally small – a nanosecond at most. But when we grow up and put away childish things, we are to move toward a way of living and relating where that space grows. You may remember a cartoon where the child or husband does or says something, to which the mother/wife responds by counting to ten. That is entirely about placing a space between stimulus and response. We also know people who have developed a habit of leaving a situation temporarily while they ‘take time to cool off.’ This is certainly helpful, and to be preferred over reacting in the moment.
     If we do nothing more than count to ten or take a walk, then we often stay in the same upset state. What we want to do is find transformation of our thoughts and feelings so that our response can be mature, reasoned, appropriate, faithful.


      What I suggest is that, once we become able to stop, even for a moment, after the stimulus, then we pray the pause. Fill that space not with numbers or footsteps only, but with prayer, prayer for self, for the others involved, for God’s will, glory and kingdom. Jesus calls us to pray for our enemies. It may be harsh to consider everyone who upsets or offends or startles us as an enemy, but for our purposes here it works, because we are feeling adversarial, and the overall situation is certainly an enemy to our ability to be mature.
      So, if anxiety and adrenaline stir in us when someone says or does something, then we can pray that God would bless that person and help them to grow in faith, hope and love. We do not pray, “God help them to see that I am right.” Such a prayer continues to keep us in a place of feeling superior – such arrogance will only undermine our efforts to reason and respond maturely.

Pray the pause –

Pray the Lord’s PrayerOur Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Pray the Jesus PrayerLord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, have mercy on me, a sinner. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, fill me with your love. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, use me for your glory, help me build your kingdom, etc.
Pray the KyrieLord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.
Pray the 23rd PsalmThe Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
Pray what’s on your mind…  What is your frustration – name it. With whom are you upset – name them. What are your fears, worries, anxieties – name them. In several of the healing miracles, Jesus asks the name of the demons. Recovery work in AA, NA and other programs have demonstrated the power of naming our demons – saying it out loud gives us power and deflates the secret which can take hold of us. The Psalms show us that, if we are humble and open, we can say anything to God in prayer. Sometimes we need to pray… “Lord, give me the desire to forgive. I want to want that,” because we really want to lash out, and we need God’s help to do otherwise.

     As you work on this, keep in mind that between every stimulus and response, there is a space. Maturing includes developing the capacity to increase and use that space appropriately – enabling us to choose how we will respond.
      For instance, many time have I heard someone say, “She made me so mad.” If the speaker is someone I know I often stop them right there and say, “Why did you give her that kind of power?”

For further study…
This idea of a space between stimulus and response is found many places, but my understanding is drawn largely from Family Systems Theory – Rabbi Edwin Friedman, derived from Bowen Theory developed by Dr Murray Bowen, and the work of Dr. Roberta Gilbert who has popularized and clarified Bowen Theory. For more information about their work, see:
We have a good collection of Family Systems books at church if you want to go deeper.
And as always, please let me know if you want to discuss any of this.

Family Systems Theory – Nuclear Family Emotional System

Family Systems Theory (FST) gives us a means to deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Through it we acknowledge that, like each individual, each group of people is a living organism or system that behaves in very predictable ways. We learn to “think systems – watch process”. Consider for a moment the last tense moment of conflict or misunderstanding you had with a family member, friend, or coworker. How much of that was about the actual content at issue, and how much was misunderstanding and reaction in place of appreciation, wonder, understanding, and response? In this instance we say, “It’s not about content – it’s about process.”

Family Systems theory is constructed with 8 core concepts: Nuclear Family Emotional System; Differentiation of Self; Triangles; Cutoff; Family Projection Process; Multigenerational Transmission Process; Sibling Position; and Emotional Process in Society. Central to our ability to make use of these concepts is our willingness to see, feel, and name the anxiety present in ourselves, others, and the larger system. Once we do, then we begin to gain some power to change, and the 8 concepts become the tools by which we can learn to construct a better self, and a better world.

The starting place for understanding self and others through Family Systems Theory (FST) is our starting point, i.e. our Nuclear Family, and specifically what we call the Emotional System in our Nuclear Family. In other words, how in your formative years, did you experience and learn to manage anxiety? Did people overcompensate for the weak, frail and ambiguous, who then felt free or even forced to under-compensate and become ir-responsible, i.e. not-response-able, unable to cope. You have likely seen this pattern, and seen how it feeds and grows on its own energy.

In humans, as in all of nature, anxiety is important. Anxiety has emotional, mental, spiritual, social and physical components. You can see in most groups of animals, fish and birds anxious energy spread from one to another quickly, whether or not the initial anxiety was warranted. When a heard is threatened, it makes sense to respond with the ‘fight or flight’ impulse. But what if one in the group over-reacts to a perceived threat? The anxiety still spreads rapidly through the group, without consideration for its validity.
The emotional system is defined by where the anxiety spreads. The core of this, for us, is the nuclear family. That is where our first and most life-important relationships are formed (or not). Thus, how anxiety functions within this unit is a key to understanding everything else about how we and others behave.
There are two types of anxiety – Acute and Chronic. Acute anxiety occurs in the human on a daily basis. Examples are the reactions we get to stressors such as fenderbenders, stock market swings, or threats to the workplace. Chronic Anxiety is more of a background level of anxiety that we carry with us. Much of this type of anxiety is programmed into us during our years in our family of origin, a level of anxiety that was/is usual for that family. We carry it around like a bad habit – it is more or less automatic. (Gilbert, 7)
In our family of origin, people had/have the choice of dealing with their own anxiety, or sharing it with others. An example of this is when a wife/mother becomes concerned that her job is threatened. She can choose to share this information in ways that bring people hope and strength, or instill fear and anxiety. She may habitually displace her anxiety onto one of her children, who is immature and unable to resist. This child will then likely act out in particular ways that seem unrelated to the initial stimulus – Mom’s anxiety. The child may act out with violence, engage in addictive behaviors or sexual promiscuity, or begin failing in school and other responsibilities. Alternately, the child may become hyper-responsible, which appears from the outside, early on, as a positive thing that gets rewarded and thus reinforced. Unfortunately this kind of hyper-responsibility creates a pressure internally that will eventually cause a rupture – a nervous breakdown, or a turning toward the clearly destructive behaviors just mentioned.
Individuals in this family may also form a togetherness fusion that prevents them from developing as unique, whole individuals who are able to be in interdependent (not dependent or independent) relationships. This fusion results in us “absorbing part of each self, demanding that we be there for the group.” (Gilbert, 9) In this environment, an individual launching off to pursue something other than the ‘approved’ family plan for career, lifestyle, location of home, or family choices, becomes a threat to the stability of the system that will react with extreme prejudice.
In addition to the overfunctioning/underfunctioning pattern, there are three other typical postures that exist in families and all systems in response to anxiety: Traingling, Conflict, and Distancing. Triangling is seen in the above example of the mother transferring her anxiety about work onto her child, who then develops symptoms of one form or another. Conflict comes when one party simply chooses to lash out or attack as a means to release anxious tension. Distancing is seen in the absence of one party, either physically or emotionally, from the system. Refusal to engage; running away to work, a hobby, another relationship; leaving the home town, state or country and refusal to visit, call or write; these are all examples of distancing. These will often exist within the same system, and even within the same relationship as people cycle back and forth from one to the other. The classic example of overfunctioning/underfunctioning is the addicted/codependent relationship.

Family Fusion:

Four Patterns:

Why study ourselves and others from a ‘systems’ point of view?

Almost daily we encounter situations that frustrate us – individuals, groups, and even we ourselves, behave in ways that are clearly unproductive – we respond with fear and anxiety where none is needed. People begin to “spin” rather than simply remain still and listen. We talk about reacting rather than responding – the first an automatic response, the second a thoughtful response. We may see others acting out their anxiety and not know why, or how to help. And then we feel our own anxiety rise, leading us to thoughts, words and actions that betray our better selves. Family Systems Theory gives us a way to understand ourselves and others, to ‘see’ what is happening, and empowers us to choose differently.
What is Bowen Family Systems Theory?
* Borrowed from www.hsystems.org – Center for the Study of Human Systems, Roberta M Gilbert, MD
Bowen family systems theory, developed by Dr. Murray Bowen begining in the 1950’s, and developed throughout his life, is a new way of thinking about the human phenomenon. In it, the nuclear family, rather than the individual, is seen as the emotional unit. Several concepts grow out of that basic understanding, from the scale of differentiation of self to the importance of the generations to functioning of people in the present.
The tremendous usefulness of the theory in the lives of individuals and families gave rise to a new and more effective psychotherapy. Organizations such as businesses and congregations have used the ideas with great benefit. Leadership training based on Bowen theory is proving to have effectiveness for those in religious, business, educational and other types of organizations.
His major papers are found in his book, “Family Therapy in Clinical Practice,” Jason Aronson, New York, 1978.

Some Quotations from Dr. Bowen’s Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, Aronson, New York, 1978
“If society functioned on a higher level, we would have a higher percentage
of people oriented to responsibility for self and others.. . .” p. 449
“. . . what man thinks about himself , and what he says about himself, is different in many important ways from what he is.” p.158
“As families move from the compartmentalized, less mature world of secrets and foibles which they assume they are keeping under cover, and into the world of permitting their private selves to be more open and a possible example for others to follow, they grow up a little each day.” p. 520

“The goal is to be as much of a ‘self’ as is possible. . .and to permit the others as much latitude as possible toward developing their selfs.” p. 463
“Any time one key member of an organization can be responsibly responsible for self, the problem in the organization will resolve.” p.463
“There is a fine line between accepting the responsibility for the part self plays in a situation and accepting the ‘blame’ for it.” p.464

Bowen theory is constructed with 8 core concepts: Nuclear Family Emotional System; Differentiation of Self; Triangles; Cutoff; Family Projection Process; Multigenerational Transmission Process; Sibling Position; and Emotional Process in Society. Central to our ability to make use of these concepts is our willingness to see, feel, and name the anxiety present in ourselves, others, and the larger system. Once we do, then we begin to gain some power to change, and the 8 concepts become the tools by which we can learn to construct a better self, and a better world.