A couple of times on this blog, I’ve posted about new learning that changed my behavior (I’m Not a Birthright Blogger and Convinced to Tweet). While those titles were written tongue-in-cheek, both essays touched on one of the beliefs in Quakerism that I value most—being “convinced.”
Quakers view convincement as a transformation that goes much deeper than intellectual consent. For me, it’s the result of a clear sense of being led by the Divine to an action or a new understanding. Even in my light-hearted posts about being convinced to blog and tweet, there was an element of my coming to new awareness. I was “convinced” that these and other technological tools can be used well to nurture and connect with the next generation of Quakers (as well as some of the old-timers).
Quakers also use the term convincement to identify Friends who weren’t born into the Society of Friends (“birthright Friends”) but who came to this religious community later, typically in adulthood. Walter Hjelt Sullivan describes his experience of being convinced in a recent QuakerYouTube video.
My journey to become a Convinced Friend is similar to Walter’s. After attending University Friends Meeting (Seattle, WA) for a few years, I recognized that, to paraphrase Walter, the Quaker Way had come into my heart and nested there. While I had studied Quakerism and attended education sessions, I came to the conviction that I was a Quaker through the experience of worship, decision-making, and service. It was at that point that I requested membership in the Religious Society of Friends, believing that I was merely acknowledging a religious identity that already existed for me.
I agree with Walter that the Quaker Way isn’t the only way. For over thirty years, though, Quakerism has been the spiritual home, or nest, that sustains and nurtures the presence of God in my life. It’s the community that keeps me grounded in the Presence within as well as outside of me that guides my actions. I’m grateful to have been convinced. And as Walter describes, to keep being convinced through new leadings and “a deeper connection to Spirit.”