Friendly Witness: The Spiritual Ground of Quaker Social Action4th mo. 19, 2023 from 1pm to 6pm
Quaker Theological Discussion Group 202312th mo. 1, 2023 at 8am to 12th mo. 2, 2023 at 10am
Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Friends - I am deliberately placing this discussion in the Plainness group as I have seen this theme come up over and over among those being led to Plain dress, but that is not how this issue first came into my life. I now see that the feeling a fragility may be a normal first step in spiritual awakening in whatever area of our lives that occurs. A year ago when I had a sudden and dramatic convincement experience there very quickly followed a feeling that my experience we tender and fragile and needed protection. This surprised me, as I simultaneously has an urge to tell everyone and share about it. But God continually pushed me back by uncomfortable feelings when I thought I should talk about it. I basically became a temporary recluse as God told me to stay home, keep it to yourself, give it time to ripen and develop within you first. I really had no choice but to obey as doing otherwise began to make me miserable. I told a family member that I felt I had a fragile life inside me that was not ready to be exposed to the light of day yet.
Part of this was that I could not listen to or read material that was either contrary to my new experience, or that had theological language in it that I already had "notions" about. This felt funny to me and I wondered if I was becoming rigid and unwilling to see the points of view of others. But now I see that God intended for me to live my own Truth first, and not be influenced or confused by the words or experiences of others too soon. Reading something that seemed to dismiss what I was experiencing would bring me to tears and make me feel like fleeing. I was told to carefully choose who I shared my experience with and to pretty much stay away from places where I might feel a tendency to intellectualize my experience, or to have to defend it, as these were not nourishing to growing into the experience itself. So I stayed home and read the Bible and sat in silent worship.
I was very encouraged to read that the Old Quakers had this same experience. George Fox left home and friends and deliberately wandered, staying no where long enough to build relationships. As he said he had a fear of engaging with other Christians in conversation for fear they would "draw him out" or as I read that that they would begin to challenge him when he was not yet ready to be challenged. John Woolman chose to stay home on his father's farm for years before he felt ready to even live in town. And he was still fearful when he finally did that. And other journals relate the same experience. This was reasssuring to me that I was not becoming a permanent weirdo.
Gradually this fragility abated as I grew into my experience and understanding. It is now so much abated that until yesterday I had completely forgotten about it when the discussion on plain clothing brought the memory to me afresh. My reason for writing this is to put out there the idea that this vulnerability is NORMAL and in fact a God given protection for us as we are just beginning to understand God's relationship to us in a living way. If we knew this perhaps we could give ourselves permission to withdraw without having to feel anger or rejection for the person or situation that has evoked the protective feeling.
I look forward to any similar experiences along these lines that others may have had.
In Christ's Love,
There have been times when I have not wanted to be "out there." I once told a friend that I felt that I was not yet ready for prime time.
And that sense of needing time apart has happened to me more than once, usually right after some kinds of openings. It may be as simple as keeping something to myself for a while, or more public, such as a change in the company I keep.
After being lowered in a basket over a wall to escape trouble, Paul was off by himself for a period of time as well. Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, Elijah's escape and encounter with the still, small voice, all indicate that this is indeed a normal, healthy period of spiritual development.
I appreciate thy sharing of this experience and pray it will be helpful to others. I know it was helpful to me at this time.
Thank you for sharing this, Barb. <3
Yes, when we are new to our path we're like a little seed growing into a sprout. We must protect ourselves against the weeds that would grow over us and destroy us. Much like those who don't understand us when we are not yet grounded in our new walk. It takes time to understand how to respond and how to be. . so we feel fragile. . but only until we really understand. Then we become total Rocks of Strength. . at least most of the time. Few could sway me now .. but in the early years I was batted about one way and then the next because I hadn't found my way quite yet.
I will share words that seem to fit this so beautifully, from my dear friend Vernon. . "Don't be afraid, therefore, to let go, to detach yourself from everything that you have considered right, wise, intelligent, bright, cheerful. Have no hesitation in making a fresh start right now. Just try to understand what it means to detach yourself from yourself. That effort is a prayer, a wish, a right start."
So you see we even have to detach ourselves from ourselves. . while we figure out who we really are. Its a wonderful journey. Now I choose carefully who I speak to. . though I feel most comfortable on this site. But on the outside, there are few I trust, sad to say. Even so-called Christian friends have hurt me in ways I never thought possible. The people I trusted the most hurt me the most. . so now I trust very few.. . .until I see where they truly are in their heart. Most are quite low.
Now I know I need not be challenged by anyone. . I live as I prefer. . and allow others to do the same. I further believe that the way I choose to live brings me more peace than it may bring to one who chooses to live a more conflicting lifestyle. . and they get to choose. But its a process and did not happen overnight for me.
I'm also so glad I have so many here to speak to that are seeking a higher level of living and being.
Thank you Barb, this is just what I needed to hear right now.
We are Quakerquaker friends, according to my list. (c:
Bless your sweet heart Quaker Gregory .. glad you found meaning in my words. . and the silent spaces between them.
Quaker Gregory said:
returning here your words resonate deeply with my journey, truely the seed must fall into the ground and die to bear fruit. That's been my experience