To quote Spouse: it takes a long time around Quakers before you know how to pronounce Friends with a capital F. A friend of mine asked me the other day if friends had bishops. I had no idea what she was talking about.
Oh! You mean do Friends have bishops? No.
Right. Anyway, I had a picnic lunch and lovely afternoon of conversation with a F/friend. (This is quakerspeak for someone who is a friend of mine and who also happens to be Quaker. And I do not use it consistently througout the blog, I am afraid.)
I talked with her about how if felt to have a negative communication experience with someone after an hour of Quaker worship. And I think one of the reasons that post-meeting confrontations are more difficult for me to handle well is that I try to come to meeting with an open heart. I try to spend the hour of quaker worship opening myself to the community, to "the light," to whatever as much as I can.
So at the rise of meeting I am often at my most vulnerable. Unless I have been unable to center into any kind of meaningful worship and have spent the last hour making my grocery list in my head (which also happens sometimes).
There needs to be a way for Quakers to deal with conflicts. And I do value honesty. But it seems that there needs to be a better way, a better time, and a better place to address these conflicts rather than in the fellowship room immediately following worship.
Because I must say that my inclination (which I will fight) is to run swiftly from the building at rise of meeting so that no one has the opportunity to say anything to me that might do damage to my vulnerable self. Later, fine. Elsewhere, fine. But not in my place of worship. Not when I am trying to keep half an eye on my children and another eye on the clock. Not when I am wide open and in my most tender state.
I wish that it came more naturally... treating one another with great gentleness. But it doesn't. Not for me either. I strive not to be hurtful, but my gentle thoughts are rarely expressed to actual people.
So it appears that while I am not easily embarrassed, I am very easily shamed. And hurt. And I care WAY too much about what people think. I thought I didn't care about this-- what people think of me. What a crock.
Of course I care what people think of me and how they perceive me. I just don't care what mainstream culture thinks of me. I care about my friends, my co-workers, my faith community, my family. The people I choose to spend time with.
But this should NOT mean that I allow minor comments and criticisms the power to lay me low. Plus, I am fully capable of interpreting a normal human exchange as a harsh criticism given the right mood. And I do NOT expect people to have to walk on eggshells around me and only deal in platitudes.
I know that when police officers are being trained to keep a cool head in stressful situations they are repeatedly exposed to exercises with gunfire. So that the adrenaline rush that comes with that sound is gradually lessened. And then when they encounter gunfire in the field, they may be better able to keep their heads instead of being overwhelmed by stress hormones.
Perhaps this is the answer... I need to have people close to me practice telling me hurtful things. That sounds like a terrible idea. I take it back.
Quaker, teacher, parent,