Giving Up or Carrying On?

Recently I have mentioned to several people that I am trying to”give up.” I am trying to understand my own rationale and why I am so discouraged. My neurologist, who has worked with me and my idiopathic neuropathy for 5 years, asked if I was contemplating “ending my life.” I answered “No,” but was finding it difficult to imagine what life would be like in 5-10 years if the neuropathy and several other health concerns continued to “slowly progress/deteriorate.” I have 2 or 3 “serious” medical conditions and a significant number of minor issues, literally from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. The limitations in getting out and about, to our grandkids’ activities, visiting our kids, which would require travel, to Friends Meeting, shopping, etc. are continuing to increase.  I am continually assessing how different parts of my body are feeling. My chest – heart conditions are major problem; my neck – stenosis and alignment are warnings about damage of any “accident”; my vision – macular degeneration, etc.; numbness and lack of proprioception in legs, feet, and hands raises concerns with driving and mobility in general; plus other issues are “constant” concerns.

However, of even more concern are my mental and emotional state. When I say I am trying to “give up,” I really am thinking of my sense of author-ity and response-ability that has been with me most of my life. From an early age, I was expected to use my innate intelligence and talents to help other people and to challenge myself to use these for a ‘”better” world for myself and others. For the last few years I do not feel that I have “authored” much or been able to “respond” as much as I would like to or feel that I need to. Recognizing that at 71 AND with my limitations, I am unable to do as much as I want is what I mean by “giving up.” The feeling of guilt in not doing all that I was capable of has been with me for all of my life that I remember. It was never much of a “fear,” although at times in my career and personal life, fear has been present in dealing with some relationships. My father tried to instill in us that there was a “stoplight” that he tried to follow. Red-Fear should never be used. Yellow-Guilt should be used only with much caution. Green-Love should always be seen as our motive to go forward.

I find that Love is still a major motive to move forward with our children and grandchildren, but there doesn’t seem to be much other actions that I can take to move forward. I am trying to give up guilt for not being able to do what I would like to do. I am trying to give up fear of what is yet to come. My greatest fear is of reaching the point that I can’t help my loved ones and becoming a burden fiscally and physically on my loved ones.

I am restarting this blog to help me come to terms with my own musings even if, and maybe because, no one else hears this. It is my hope that I will continue to grapple with my past in hope that it will help me get through to what is yet to come.

Choices for Friends Meetings

A Friends pastor who had been Supt. of Indiana YM and Jamaica YM as well as a pastor in Indiana YM, Wilmington YM and North Carolina YM (FUM) wrote the following about  40 years ago. This was in the notes that he left and probably not meant for publication. (As a disclaimer he was my father, Logan Smith):

“THE CHOICES OF MOST FRIENDS MEETINGS I KNOW.

1. Be a Community Church with no clear call to a distinctive Discipleship.
a) Maybe talk about traditional doctrines of Friends, but not require any of them.
b) Say nothing but what a Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist would say except – we are part of FUM, instead of a conference, synod, etc.
c) This is definitely the trend, in my opinion.
2. Call for a distinctive membership. Let those who do not adhere go, seek those from other denominations who accept these views. This would be very hard work and apparently would fail. Even if it succeeded it would probably be on one or two points – silence, pacifism, simplicity or some other item.
3. Be a small group harping on our past and trying to preserve it.
4. Try to choose a group to join with and be swallowed up by it.
5. Graciously disperse, advise the Baptist to go to the Baptists, Nazarenes to the Nazarenes, Unitarians to Unitarians. Those who just want a church to go to, go to the best one in the community to make it better. In some few cases where Friends are the best community Church, be just that – a good community church or carefully select another denomination and be a congregation of that denomination.

There are more “Quakers” not members of the Society than in the Society. There are probably more “Quakers” in the Methodist Church than in the Society. No doubt true of United Church of Christ.

The FUM is too costly an adventure just to be sort of a clearing center for a group of community churches or a group of tradition loving secularized groups calling themselves Friends Meetings.”