After having lived "plain" for over a year---alone,---- with only minute help from on line Friends, and that very  poor---- I have decided that plainess is for the birds.
    It's like, who cares?  Who has the energy?  And most of all, Why?  I started with lofty intentions and a seeking heart. Now I see, as I have known for my 40 years among Friends--Friends could care less.
   All all and all Friends are a selfish, boring, lot who are in actuality the furthest thing from the implied name of the loosely structured, hateful, society.
    Why get all "dressed up plain" to honor God when the Meeting is so
utterly devoid of anything resembling God?
   Friends? Ha! What a joke. Maybe 'den, not now.
                                           simon

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As another who has never written to you, nor offered any support, I would offere the excuse that I am not aware of ever having heard of you until a few minutes ago when I started reading this discussion. 

I used to wear a plain straw hat to a liberal Friends meeting, but stopped, not because I received no support, but more because it didn't carry any useful witness to the others there.  They just thought it was quaint, and welcomed it on an equal basis with other individual interests and concerns, such as Zen Buddhist meditation.  What was perhaps a more effective witness, and at least a more honest statement from myself, was when I stopped attending the meeting because I realized I was in the wrong place.  There was no way to restore the meeting to the original Christian witness of Friends, because they, collectively, had no interest in following Him.  So I started setting aside a time to wait on Him by myself, and now with my family.  I still find it difficult to get support from other Friends, unless I ask for it, in which case I usually find it.

I can't tell very clearly from your post what kind of support you are looking for from other Friends, and am confused by some of your comments, such as "And the band plays on".  Is there anything we can do that would be more helpful to you?

Thank  thee Friend, I perceive an honest heart in thee.

    I have left Meeting and returned so many times I can't count.  Since I first saw the Light in the early 70's.  And this time also.  Perhaps  I acted too quickly, spoke too hastily. 

     After all, I was compelled to the plain witness by God, not man.  Should it then matter that I have no "support"?  The Everlasting Gospel is support enough, my dearest and closest Friend, abiding within, He  hath called, I  struggle to hear.

    Jesus the Christ is His name.

   So to thee, and all Friends who were caught in the "Plain Flurry",

     WASN'T IT A HOOT!!!

   I love the Friends, one and all.  Thank thee for listening to me.  Caring about me. Bearing with me. Friends thou truly art.  To the Society which bears this name, I humbly ask pardon.  And   gratefully lift my eyes and behold morning, morning, excellent and fair.

                                                                            Simon

 

“Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” John 16:32

 

 

 

                                       SAY WHAT??

 

 

 

Joseph--

Actually, I had in mind Simon Marc as a "man to his own" . . . (and Simon, using all caps is the online version of shouting and is not the done thing . . .)

I will share with thee, Joseph, that I was troubled by thy use of the phrase "mere personal leading." For one thing, leadings are rarely a "mere" if they are truly from the Lord, having consequences for the salvation of the person with the leading and for the salvation of the world. But more specifically let me review with thee my own experiences of a mere personal leading to wear plain dress, that I wear plain dress because I begged the Lord to show me how I could be happy, and he indicated in no uncertain terms that I should wear the bonnet and become a plain Quaker. And once I was to wear the bonnet, then it seemed to me I should wear the cap, and since one cannot wear the cap and bonnet with jeans and a t-shirt, a dress seemed the thing, certainly a modest one, and so I adopted the cape dress. Utilitarian adjustments over the years have led me to wear a kerchief and shawl--but these were purely utilitarian and have not felt the requirement that the bonnet feels.

And truly, I cannot describe it as a leading, that opening salvo in my direct communication with the Seed Within, but a command. I had a choice, yes, but it was clear to me it was a choice between life and death: and I chose life.

It is hard to convey how desperately unhappy I was, but imagine the circumstances under which one might conclude that adopting plain dress was the best option. (And becoming a Quaker and learning how to be a Christian--which I clearly understood to be corollaries of this bonnet-wearing plain Quakerism.) I owned several Bibles but was more intimidated, overwhelmed and annoyed by the contents than inspired. I disliked what I knew of Christians and Christianity. I had heard of Quakers in history class but had no idea if they still existed, no idea if they did exist if any were plain or what they might believe. Yet in the mysterious and bizarre command to become a bonnet-wearing plain Quaker I also felt love and regard, so that rather than feeling condemned or corrected, I felt guided and protected.

As it turned out there are plain Quakers, particularly among Conservative Friends, but when I first began to spend time among them, none but me wore the outer bonnet. But that did not cause me to doubt that part of God's message for me and my salvation. If I am to be saved, I was first saved by my obedience in adopting the bonnet, but clearly not everyone requires it or anything like it to be saved. Plenty upon plenty of weighty and worthy Friends and Christians wear no form of plain dress. I do not see plain dress as a requirement for Quakers or for Christians except if the Inward Teacher, Christ, shows them it is the will of the Lord for them to do so.

I can say that to adopt plain dress as a solitary witness, a mere personal leading, is extremely difficult and comes with real costs and consequences. I encourage no one to wear it who is not being strengthened by the Lord to do so. Therefore I do not seek to convince thee, Joseph, to wear plain dress or any form of observant dress, old-fashioned or otherwise, except if the Lord wishes it for thee. He knows thy condition and what will help bring thee into the Truth and help keep thee there. He knows what witness to the Truth is required of thee, what Cross thee must bear. That I require the strong medicine of plain dress does not mean I am a better person or a better Christian, and in fact might easily mean the opposite, that I am a weaker person and someone who finds it harder to live as an obedient Christian--but that the Lord has shown me how I can be useful to him is a gift for which I am entirely and utterly grateful.

Does thee really wish to suggest that because the Bible includes no passages on wearing bonnets, the Lord cannot work this way? That what I have experienced was not a gift from God, but something else? Since I began wearing the bonnet, I have observed a growth in myself in all of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), virtues that I did not even value before I began wearing the bonnet. That alone would convince me that I have rightly discerned the Lord's will, but that barely scratches the surface of all the blessings that have resulted from that first obedience. (If thee has not read Five Tests for Discerning a True Leading from the Tract Association..., I can recommend it. (http://www.tractassociation.org/tracts/tests-discerning-true-leading/))

I can't help feeling, Joseph, that I have said all of this to thee before, and more. But I find I am willing to give it one more go.

 My Dear Friend,

                              Thank thee for thy testimony. And the scripture thou sent forth to me.  I apologize for the capitals, I wasn't aware, being the computer dummy I am.

   I would never consider a shout.  It was meant to be lighthearted-----I did from the onset know what thee said in quoting the scripture. Thank thee.

My Friend thy testimony hath done much to strengthen me in my walk with the Lord and adopting plain witness.

   May God Bless thee, Friend Penraeth.

                                                                       simon

Dear and most Gentle Friends,

                                                           With all of this, thy heart doth show, Joseph thou searcheth  for God in deep and humble Spirit. But, I. and J. and myself: Perhaps we strain at gnats and swallow camels.?!

                                                                                                             simon

Dear Simon,

Only your own heart knows its own pain on these issues however I can empathize and do have compassion for your experiences.

 

I am a born again Christian and have accepted God as my father, Jesus as Lord and savior and the Holy Spirit as my teacher and guide.  I am of Quaker decent (2 generations removed but many household habits were still in place.) I never knew what the "religion" so to speak of, what a Quaker was.

 

I was lead on a journey through many denominations, all having a bit of what I believed before I found that I was truly Quaker in my heart. My walk with God is not defined by a particular group but more of lessons and truths revealed to me by the spirit along the way. It has been a very personal development. And hopefully I will continue to be open and grow.

 

For years the spirit was leading me to simplicity, not only of dress but of lifestyle as well. My natural nature is to be headstrong, oppinionated and independent. When the spirit was leading me to plain dress I think I was thinking "How quaint." I too did not see the WHY of it. But I knew that I knew what I was being led to and all I can say is I spent a lot of years questioning and being very unhappy over the whole issue. (Mind you, I do not attend a Quaker meeting, I have no Quaker friends or influence except for here now)

 

I knew if I did this I would be completely alone in it living in a large city. Finally one day I came to the realization that I had had enough of the issue and I felt I was not able to move on into other things until it was decided.  Since I knew it was what the Lord was asking of me I would just do it out of obiedience. And suddenly, decision made I felt the freedom, a joy. I can only describe it as "I felt suddenly myself".  I don't know why, I had never dressed this way before. I just know it is who I am now. Many things are beyond my understanding as far as how the spirit moves, and I just accept that.

 

To me that is the final analysis in anything we do. It should not be done for others, or to be identified as part of a group, or even out of our own thoughts as being a good idea.  I feel it to be a very personal decission for each person. That it is neither right nor wrong and judgments should not be a part of the equation on the part of others. Also, many individuals experience varying affects of plain dress or any other obedience or calling they enter into.

 

It has brought me both joy and scorn which anyone experiences anyway so who am I to think I shouldn't.

I only share with you some of my small experiences. Only you can follow the spirit as you journey and make the decisions you feel you should be obedient to.

 

But I wish to encourage you not to be downhearted.  The mere fact that you are struggling is proof that you are growing in grace. That you are alive in the spirit!

 

After all, the baby struggles greatly and causes pain before its born into freedom.

The seed struggles in darkness before it breaks through the earth to face the sun and live in the warmth of it's light.

 

Please allow grace if I have unknowingly written anything to offend, I certainly don't intend to. And I also am not the one to speak on Quaker ways as I am not very knowledgeable. I can only share my heart.

 

I pray things come clear to you and you are again filled with peace.

 

 

Friends I am sorry to be posting so late in this conversation but I have only just become part of this list. Simon, I do understand your frustration but is it just concerning Plain Friends or dealing with Friends in general or even in a broader sense, believers in general? First I would like to share just briefly where I stand as far as being a Friend. I have been a Conservative Friend since 1997 as has the rest of my family. When I first came to Friends I thought I could possibly being led to plainness in the old way as in dress, I struggled with this for quite awhile but after much prayer and thought it was obvious that the Lord could use me best as I was. Now, how I am is a product of my life before Christ. I was a biker and my friends were a mixture of garden variety bikers and outlaw bikers. During this period I had many, and I mean many tattoos done on my body. The reason I bring this up is that I believe the Lord has used how I look to His advantage many times in witnessing to those in the wider community, who would almost never feel comfortable with a plain Friend approaching them. I am not saying the Lord would have us go out and be tattooed only that He will use what we have to His glory and for the benefit of others.  So for me I try and live a plain life as far as my inward life goes and dress as simply as I can. I have two very dear Friends who would both call themselves plain dresses. One is historically plain in his dress and one dresses plain in that he only wears clothes that are without brand-name or logos on them. Both these Friends would also say to any who asked only go down this path if it is truly a leading from God. Fact is Simon, plain dressing does not make us any better at following God, it is truly a personal thing between you and God, I am sure you can see this yourself. The other thing you mentioned is your disappointment in Friends as far as support goes and how many may not live up to your feelings on how they should act or conduct their lives. I know you did not say this in so many words but that's how it came across to me, sorry if I have miss understood you. One big lesson I have learnt is that we as Friends let each other down often, not intentionally but none the less it happens. Sad fact is we are, all believers I mean, are a fallen people........at times pretty darn pitiful at best. I certainly fit well into that description. I have had it said to me many times, "why do you go to meeting/church Shane, I have met Christians who say one thing and do the other". My basic response is, welcome to the real world! The truth is this, we are a fallen people trying to do the best we can to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Often we get it right and many times we don't but hopefully we keep trying to hear and seek that Light that brings us closer to living a life that helps and touches others, that makes a difference in someones life to feel Christ's love by our actions towards them. I don't go to Meeting for Worship to hang out with perfect people, if I did I would be disappointed. However I do go there to be with people who are seeking the same thing as me, a relationship with the One who created all
things. I keep walking the path I believe the Lord wants me to walk Simon, I have had Friends hurt me in this walk and I dare say I have probably hurt some Friends also. I hope you can feel comfortable Simon amongst Friends, as I do believe as Friends we have a good way to walk and live our faith in this world. I pray we can all honour God in being ourselves, following His leadings and holding back when we feel like strangling other Friends.  ; )   Peace be with you Simon

Hello, Simon!  If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a community to be a plain Christian.  As I see it, what you needed was a plain community to support your plain testimony.  I don't believe that plainness works well for an isolated Christian.  One needs the support of others on the same path.

If you can't find that support among Friends, there are other plain groups you could relate to that would uphold you.  By the way, I have worn plain garb for most of my adult life.

I dressed in traditional plain for about five years (late 1971- mid-1977for several reasons. About the first two years of dressing plain I did it because I desperately wanted a cultural identity with “plain” Friends and unprogrammed worship. However, I had no interest in the risen Christ. I only wanted the cultural identification with Friends. However, that experience of dressing plain brought me in contact with Ohio Yearly Meeting where I was, for the first time, presented with the crucified and risen Christ. I had never before heard Him preached among the liberal Friends with whom I had previously worshipped.

At first, I vehemently rejected His salvation and the veracity of the scriptures as I heard those shared in worship in Ohio Yearly Meeting. I actively refused the Holy Spirit’s speaking to me as He let me know of Christ’s desire for me to relinquish myself to His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection for my sin and to let Him lead as the Lord of my life.

When I finally did submit to Him, my plainness no longer became the central part of my identity . . . Christ, and His cross became the center. As I grew in Him and began to understand more of what it meant to be crucified with Christ, my relationship with Him took supremacy over any outward form. In fact, as I moved forward in my relationship with Him, I began to wonder if while my plainness had, for me, been a hedge that helped insulate me from the world, but that plainness was perhaps no longer serving that purpose. In fact (and I only speak for myself) I began to wonder if plainness had really become a prideful form for me.

When the Lord unmistakably released me from traditional plain dress in the spring of 1977, I realized it wasn't about the dress . . . it was about my relationship to Christ. I remember the Lord vividly showing me that for me, my dress was so unimportant for my relationship with Christ that I could dress in red flannel pajamas and it didn’t matter. All He really cared about was what He required of me, which was absolute and total submission to His will as Lord of my life. The forms in my life were not important. The Spirit, however, became all-important

Today, I love the relationship with Christ I hear and experience in waiting worship with the individual meetings of Ohio Yearly Meeting. For me, it has nothing to do with the plainness, or nonplainness of the individual. The only important thing for me is where is that person in his or her relationship with Christ. I believe I understand plainness far better now, and deeply love those who have chosen to take up that testimony. I praise God for His call to them to plainness. In addition, I love and praise God for those who have not been called to plainness. For me, the plainness or lack thereof makes no difference. I only want to walk the earth celebrating the Lord’s work in each of our lives.

For some, nonplainness becomes the sword that they have to wear “as long as thou canst.” For me, traditional plainness became the sword that I had to wear as long as I could when I had to set it aside. I love all of God’s people, no matter the form nor the covering. Just let me wait with them in worship as we wait to hear His voice. “I am crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live. Jesus Christ now lives in me.”

Simon, (and any other Simons there may be who may also be struggling with what the Lord is requiring of them when it comes to plainness), I’m ache for your struggle and pain. Look to the Christ of the cross. He will continue to lead you in the direction you should go. Don’t let an outward form get in the way of His true Substance. Active, living relationship with the risen Christ is all that really matters.

Lord, You are calling each of us to intimate relationship with You. Lord, may we be willing to hear Your voice and follow it. Jesus, Your death was all-sufficient for us. Help us to lean on that for our relationship with You, and help us to walk the earth speaking and relating to Your voice in each person, no matter who. Help us to lead others to You as Lord. Help them to accept You as Lord because of what You have spoken to them through us. Lord, we only want to be conduits of Your love and mercy to a sick and fallen world.

Lord, continue to speak to us and guide us daily so that when we stand before You on the day of each of our judgments, we will hear the words "Well done, good and faithful servant." Help us to be faithful to the cross that You have chosen each of us to bear. May we bear it gladly in Your Name, in Your Power, in Your Spirit. Forgive us when we mess up and when we don't present You as Lord of Lord, King of Kings, as Love Incarnate. As we grow in You, Lord, empower us to see our sinful ways, repent, turn from them, and walk more closely to You. May we ever more effectively learn from our mistakes and look more and more like You our eternal Friend, and may we look less and less like our sinful selves. In the Name of Jesus, the Christ, the Friend for all of us, amen.

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