This world. This place. This life.

Faith and Confidence


I remember what it feels like to be moved by the Spirit.

It feels like electricity.  Persistent.  Propelling me forward, propelling words–almost–from my mouth.  Burning with held-back passion.

I have kept this chair, through moves from New Jersey to Ohio, to Michigan, to Alaska, because this chair reminds me of that feeling.

Sitting in an unadorned Plymouth Brethren meeting room, listening to the zing of the Spirit moving around the room, mind to mind, growing, shifting, pausing.

Wanting to speak, wanting to share the electricity rising in my own mind, prohibited by my gender.

And now, a different prohibition holds me back.

Somewhere along the way, Spirit lost its capital “S.”  In the wilderness of exile, all the trappings fell away, and I was left with uninsulated wiring.

The electricity is still there, but I no longer call it Spirit, or God, or even Jesus.  It’s just me.  My intelligence, my human spark, my leaping intuition, yearning to join up with the electrons of the whole, to careen through bends and curves of conversation and shared thought.

But lack of faith holds me back.  Not lack of faith in God.  Lack of confidence in myself.  It was easier when the electric thought was Spirit–Holy Other, not me, bigger than me, separate from me.  I could say, “This is what the Spirit is directing me to say and do.”  Now, it is only me.

This is a good thing, in some ways.  Overconfidence in Spirit can get you arrested for kidnapping Haitian children.

But self-doubt can also keep me from using my human spark for good.

A recent Facebook conversation helped bring a measure of resolution to this dilemma.  You’re not alone, my friends told me.  Your ideas don’t have to be perfect, they said.  It’s OK to fail–that’s the only way you’ll eventually succeed.  Rely on your friends.  Don’t be afraid to send your electrons out to play with others.


2 thoughts on “Faith and Confidence

  1. Ralph Waldo Emerson has some good things to say about the spirit/Spirit in the sense of human intuition — but Emerson makes you see how intuition can connect you with something large than yourself. Emerson was strongly influenced by a powerful Quaker-turned-Unitarian named Mary Rotch, and also corresponded with John Greenleaf Whittier, so his sense of the spirit/Spirit comes from Quakerism, not from the Brethren. Nonetheless, I feel he offers a nice Unitarian post-Christian alternative to more traditional Christian notions of the Spirit.

  2. Hey, Dan. When I was growing up & tried to describe the PB, people always thought I meant the Quakers. Maybe I’ll add some Friends blogs to my Reader.

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