For several weeks, since I started the series about the Quaker testimonies, I have wanted and feared to write about community (a separate testimony with the Norwegian Friends). I have felt that before I can become a Friend, I’ll have to attend meetings for worship regularly. I am not even sure they would let me become a Friend if I don’t.

I struggle with this. For a great deal of my life, I have learned to trust nobody but myself and God. The reason has been that a lot of churches and congregations would condemn me for who I am, using God to support their hatred.

To be in community with God means to be vulnerable, naked. To be attacked in such a situation is especially hurtful. It leaves scars. I am blessed because I didn’t loose my fatith this way, like so many of my friends. But I got my scars.

To include fellow humans in my community with God means to reveal my vulnerability to other humans. I have learned that this leads to me being hurt, a lesson that is very hard to unlearn.

I really want to be a good Friend, but the solution is not to attend meetings just because I think I should, with my guard still up. I need to learn to trust Quakers to be able to attend meetings for worship. I just don’t know how.

In the meantime, I promise to blog here every Sunday until I feel ready to attend a Quaker meeting.

 

 

This post was written as part of a series of musings around the Quaker testimonies at my regular blog of faith: http://kveker.wordpress.com/

The blog is in English and Norwegian

Views: 55

Comment by Rickey D. Whetstone on 1st mo. 30, 2011 at 10:55pm

Tarald:

Welcome   . . . one does not have to attend a community setting to enjoy the blessings of God.  Many people desire fellow human interaction  . . . in place of being with God.   Others think that God only shows up when humans cluster or group.  I prefer being alone with God.  However if another human appears I do not chase them away.  

 

Tell me . . . what has God been teaching you?     

Comment by Tarald Stein on 1st mo. 31, 2011 at 8:19am
It is a timely question, but a big one. I think my regular blog of faith answers it to some extent, so I will try to keep this answer short by making a list.

List of lessons learned:

  • To trust ze*
  • To trust hir love for me
  • To trust hir presence in my daily life
  • To rely on hir guidance
  • To trust that my resources are given me by God, not to waste or hide, but to use for the good of fellow humans

This list got very vague. To be more specific, God has thought me to use my skills as a writer and agitator to promote human rights for my fellow transgendered people. I held it in the Light, although alone, and felt a new peace and joy. God made me able to turn my troubles into something good for others. I also have a calling to speak up for gay people in christian communities. I have seen too many deprived of their faith. To deprive someone their relationship with God, their faith, seems to me a very heavy sin.

I am blessed with a strong persistant experience of that of God in me. The world is so focused on outwardly appearance, the body, and as a transgendered man I am called to emphasise that God created (and continues to create) us as complete humans. God is the one who knew me when I didn't know myself. Ze stayed when others left. For that I am forever thankful.

Recently God has challenged me to be patient and attend meetings for worship when I am ready. There must be something there that I need, and later something there for me to do. I am also challenged to look for that of God in everyone, something I don't find easy.

So far I have not been challenged to stay out of confrontations. I have listened for that, but only silence came to me. I guess there are others who get the calling to be diplomats in their daily lives, and I often experience that these people are sent to me to make a balance.

I don't think that this answers the question in full, but it is a start.

 

*I use gender neutral pronouns to refer to God. My conviction is that ze is not a man and neither a woman. Ze made men and woman in hir image, this means that ze must be both. This is not a pronoun just for God, but also for speaking about hypotethical situastions. Example: The teacher sould watch hir students closely. People of genders other than male and female often prefer gender neutral pronouns. Reference
Comment by Rickey D. Whetstone on 1st mo. 31, 2011 at 4:43pm
Tarald

Is there a Quaker group in Oslo? Is so go for it.
As for . . . learning from God it seems you are doing fine.
Comment by Tarald Stein on 2nd mo. 1, 2011 at 7:08am

Thank you for your kind answer.

Yes, there is a Quaker meeting in Oslo. I went a couple of times, but now it has been a long time (nearly two years). I have felt I was too fragile for the last year to attend meetings. Now I am back on my feet and want to attend. As a start, I have signed up for a silent weekend of meditation etc. later this month. I have sent an email to ask if the meeting here in Oslo has any tasks for me to do, as I usually have a hard time just being a passive attendee. I still struggle with the community-ting, but I guess it might come naturally if I just have some self-dicipline.

Comment by Rickey D. Whetstone on 2nd mo. 1, 2011 at 10:26am

Tarald

Does this group require new attendees to be passive?

Comment by Tarald Stein on 2nd mo. 1, 2011 at 10:46am

No, I hope not, but I guess they would like to know you before they give you any responsibility. Makes sense. Maybe they also thinks that newcomers should be treated with care to don't be scared off, but such "care" is wasted on me.

And they are not very good at attracting new people. The idea seems to be that if God wants you to find the quakers, then you will, regardless of their visibility. And if God wants you to stay, then you will. After what I read here at quakerquaker, this seems to be a common problem.

Comment by Paula Deming on 2nd mo. 1, 2011 at 11:38am

Dear Tarald,

You wrote:

"To deprive someone their relationship with God, their faith, seems to me a very heavy sin."

But nobody can deprive someone else of a relationship with God. They may make it difficult to attend a religious community, but your relationship is there at all times, no matter what.

There are a number of isolated Friends here at Quakerquaker. I was one myself for 10 years. At one point I realized I really wanted to be in meeting, not alone, but it took me two years of preparation of my heart to return. And when I did, it was with the knowledge that I would be bringing my meeting with me. I had to be my authentic self. I could not do it if I felt fragile.

I sense that you are going through a similar process. Follow God's time. Return when it's right. Blessings.

Yours in the Light, Paula

Comment by Tarald Stein on 2nd mo. 1, 2011 at 12:01pm

Dear Paula,

 

Thanks!

 

I have met a lot of people who got convinced that God hated them because they were gay. Some came to see God a evil. I know people who have been through exorcisms to "cure" them and make them straight. It is easy to lo0se fatih in God in such an environment. A lot of faith communities are built on an idea of priests or pastors and their interpretation of the Bible telling people what to do, how to feel and what to think. They make no room for that of God in everyone. People learn not to listen to that of God within. I don't think you can blame people for loosing faith under these circumstances. I believe that some of my friends had to end their relationships with God to stay sane or alive. It makes me so sad for them and so angry at those who cause it!

I do think there is hope. Sometimes all you need is to talk to people, listen to their pain, tell them of your own faith despite all the so-called christians. Then some will realize that God is still there, never left. To be able to do that for someone, I think you need to respect their pain, validate their experiences.

 

Blessings

Comment by Paula Deming on 2nd mo. 1, 2011 at 12:17pm

Dear Tarald,

Yes, certainly people lose faith in the idea of God under the circumstances you write about. But in these cases, have these people ever heard God's whispers, or have they simply been listening to what others say about God?

You are absolutely right about respecting people's pain and validating their experiences. That's called listening spiritually, and it's done by loving people in God. Being loved in your pain is a wonderful gift and can help with healing. I will hold you in prayer.

Blessings.

Comment by Tarald Stein on 2nd mo. 1, 2011 at 12:31pm

Dear Paula,

Thank you!

I think they never listened for God's whispers, or confused them with their own "sinful" will (which I guess in these situations would be similar).

I think it is a shame that most people, including me, are not told to listen for God's whispers from early childhood. Instead we are told that God's words come from outside of our selves; from the Bible or a preacher. (Of course God can speak through those as well.) I think I was blessed with the ability to hear God shout "don't listen to them". ;-)

Blessings

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