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Readings for Reflection: August 2005
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

Being Tender with Each Other

As Friends, we value our effort to be seekers rather than holding rigidly to some organizationally-approved doctrine. In our seeking, we may find ourselves disagreeing with each other. This is not only natural, but essential as we test our understandings and our leadings against those of others.

Friends, being human, however, will sometimes feel judgmental toward or threatened by other Friends who may seem to us misguided or who perhaps may even be espousing a view that we feel is harmful. While we may not intend it, these feelings may lead us to be sharp with each other or to speak as if we have the moral or the Quakerly position and the other person does not.

Interactions like this are particularly painful in a Meeting, where people want to feel a sense of safety and community. None of us wants to feel put down or attacked or to feel that we need to be on our guard. Nor do we want others to feel this way.

Here are some things to consider if you find yourself feeling angry or judgmental toward another Friend:

Try not to speak to the person out of your anger or judgmental feelings. Avoid name calling or labeling the other person. It may also be helpful to express your feelings somewhere else, where they wonít be hurtful to anyone.

Donít be judgmental toward yourself for having the feelings. Itís the rare person who does not feel negative toward another person at times, especially if the issue at hand is something we care deeply about.

Talk to someone you trust or someone on the Ministry and Counsel Committee if you want help thinking through a situation where differences are getting in your way.

Try speaking to that of God in the other person. Think of them as a human being with a sense of integrity, who is doing what they believe to be right. Sometimes you canít SEE that of God in a person, especially in a time of frustration or anger, but speaking as if you know it is there will increase the chances that it will become visible.

Jan Wright, for Ministry and Counsel

All Readings for Reflection
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