Quiet Faith by Judson Edwards is just such a book. We have known Jud and Sherry Edwards for a long time and count them as friends even though our paths have crossed only rarely in the past 40 years. When Sherry read my post about my discovery that I am an introvert, she alerted me to Jud's latest book, and I am so very grateful that she did. It articulates so clearly many of the things that I have come to believe, and affirms for me again the value of the introvert in the body of Christ. The impact was magnified because the writer is someone of my generation and background whom I have long respected. Thanks, Jud.
One of many quotes from the book that I have been pondering, "When it comes to spiritual journeys, we're each an experiment of one. . . . We have each been given the awesome task of finding out who we are and what we are here to do. But the map for discovering those truths can be found only in one's own, solitary heart."
Allow me what seems a tangent but is actually an illustration. Since the birth of the feminist movement, at some level the "mommy wars" have been ongoing; sometimes publically, sometimes only in the minds and hearts of young mothers. Like any other issue that becomes polarized, whether she chooses to be a stay-at-home mom or to, as my mother's generation referred to it, "work out in public", it has been the tendency to feel, and often declare, that one's well-defended personal choice is the only right one. How much healthier two generations of young women could have been if we could just accept both paths as equally good and deserving of respect. True acceptance, not just tolerance - there's a big difference. Why, in order to make ourselves feel justified in our decision have we found it necessary to negate the value of someone else's different decision? Might there be as many unique and good ways to parent as there are children to be parented?
In our spiritual development, we have tended to do the same thing. We find (or are taught) a set of beliefs that we accept as our theology. We affiliate with a group of like-minded believers. We devote ourselves with great passion to believing what we believe. And we declare it the only right and true way to believe, to follow God. Our theological discussions happen primarily "in house", and before long we fall into a phenomenon that social psychologists label "group think" - agreeing because everyone around us is agreeing. There may be other, contradictory thoughts inside our heads, but we are hesitant to express them, because everyone else seems so convinced.
What if, instead, we recognized that we each are an "experiment of one"? What if we truly believed that God sees each of us as unique in His eyes? What if we freed each other to pursue God in a truly personal way without fear of rejection or criticism? What if we trusted the Holy Spirit to work things out in others without our interference? What if we spent more time focused on The Living Word in the form of Jesus Christ and less time proof-texting with scripture to prove ourselves right and someone else wrong, as if they have to be wrong in order for us to be right? What if our theology was as simple as love God, love people, and follow Jesus?
I don't know, but I'm ready to find out.