Friday, January 28, 2011


I have long felt contended with over times I have felt and acted better than someone else.   Judging others has caused me a lot of well deserved grief and Christ has not been slow to make sure I get it.

More recently, though, I am taken to task on the other horn of equality--about the times I have allowed myself to be compromised by the judgments of others I was convinced were better than I.

Sure, there are people who are more intelligent, more studied, more accomplished than I.  And sure I can be edified by being with them and being influenced by their ideas and their example, even their eldering.

I have been led to more appreciation, though, of where concerns about equality among Quakers came from, originally.   The testimonies were about titles of honor and showing deference to people of wealth and power, the acceptance of theological notions from people who were "certified smart" by the church establishment.  These were of prime importance to many who gathered around that founding generation.  They were largely of simple status.

Theirs was a struggle to get out from under the control of their "betters," not to raise up the less fortunate as, for so many of them, there were few less fortunate than they (except, perhaps, spiritually). They saw that  the privileged around them were actually living in a spiritual trap--and that their condition was degraded by the delusion of the image they had of themselves and the energy needed to force others to accept that inflated image.

As damaging as it is to be the object of privilege, being its subject is corrosive, as well. 

Someone very close to me once said, hearing me talking about how impressed (and intimidated)  I was by someone I had met, "That's just your inside looking at her outside."

We all feel inadequate, at times, and we are all made to feel inadequate, at times, by people who want to use our feelings of inadequacy to exploit us, to use our lack of confidence to lead us into temptation and beyond.   We can all come up with long lists of things from our past to convince ourselves of our inadequacy, if we are inclined to do that.  Each item on such a list can be a handle someone--including ourselves--can grab to spin us off in all kinds of directions.

And how many times have I, upon encountering a celebrity of some sort, become tongue tied and even sought that person's approval in some way?   How many times have I spoken to others about such contacts in such a way as to associate myself with these elevated persons, as a means of improving my own sense of adequacy (in my own mind, in the minds of those who hear me, or in both)?

How have I damaged myself in the past by thinking that someone deserved more deference from me than the respect and compassion I normally have for others? 

As I say, I have been contended with many times in the Light when I judged someone else, and such contention has begun to arise now when I am too quick to accept judgments about me that I hear/fear from others.

We are all equal in the Light.   We all have access to the transforming power of Christ and to the  ability to discern the guidance we get from standing in that power.   While others may have a perspective on what we do and how we do it, the second-hand religion of others is of no more value to me than is my own second hand religion of value to others.  I have developed a trust that Christ will make me feel convicted when I am deserving. The only time I am confused about what is expected of me is when I think about it.  When I listen it's clear.

Christ, then, is working on my inside and leading me to spend less of my spiritual energy engaging with/ensnared in the facades of competence, authenticity and authority that get thrown up around me to create deceptive impressions of my worth and adequacy relative to that of other people and institutions. 

I remain standing in the need to be liberated from the spiritual compromises that flow from believing myself to be better than others.  More appreciation has been developed in me, now, for the need to be delivered from the notion that some other people are better than I.

1 comment:

Hystery said...

Thank you for writing this. I needed to read it.