June 5, 2007

Anxiety and surrender

As I write this post, the 2007 FGC Gathering of Friends is less than one month away. Yipes!

Thank goodness for care-and-accountability committees. Mine met with me this past First Day, knowing that getting together so close to the Gathering would be important, and knowing that if we had met any closer to the Gathering, it would have been a hassle to interrupt whatever it is I'll have my hands, head, and heart into at the time!

I was able to express my growing anxiety over all the loose ends that need to be tied up between now and the end of June. I was able to express my worst case scenarios that were playing in my head. And I was able to remind myself that all I really need to do is pay attention to what God has put directly at my feet, what is directly in front of me right here, right now.

I just need to give myself and the experience over to God, day by day. The rest will take care of itself.

The committee of a few caring fFriends heard me out with love and compassion. They didn't talk me out of my worry and they didn't affirm my anxiety, either. Ultimately, we all came up with ideas to help get me through. Some of the ideas had us in stitches because they were so off the wall.

Whether or not you'll be at the Gathering, there's probably a way for you to participate, if you want, in helping me shift from worst-case thinking to best-or-better-case thinking. I'll take all the support I can get!

Here's a partial list of what we came up with.

  • I need to engage in daily worship, before and during Gathering, starting now.

  • Open myself to receiving prayer support from various fFriends.

  • Solicit ideas from others about dealing with pre-Gathering stress, especially from Friends and FGC staff who are familiar with preparing for the Gathering and making it to the other side.

  • Use humor.
    Imagine: Dedicated lines for "4 complaints or more," and an express line for "3 complaints or fewer."

    Imagine: Different directions for crabby people and for serene people:
    "Please rate your mood: For "Crabby and worse," please follow this (long-and-winding) path to the Workshop Changes Table. For "Pleasant, serene, or better," please follow this (very simple and direct) route to the Workshop Changes Table."
    Maybe for real: Post a sign, “We're in continuing revelation—Back in ten minutes.”
  • Reminders to be gentle with myself as well as with others. Allow myself and others to be very human, all week long.

  • Have the committee arrange for impromptu and periodic check-ins with me by pre-selected fFriends:
    "On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being 'you are loose and relaxed' and 5 being 'you are about to lose your Quaker cool,' how would you rate yourself?"
    If my answer is higher than a 3, these Friends would know to take evasive action!

  • Similarly: establish a safe word or coded phrase to let other committee members and other significant Friends know when a break is Completely Necessary Right Now.

  • A “Friendly fire/forest fire danger" sign, visible to those in line ("Friendly...'Nice'...Un-Friendly" risk levels).

  • Notecards written with reminders:
    God is with me.
    These Friends are my neighbors and my family.
    They've had a long day too.
  • Have food and water available, and a cooler filled with ice water that has bandanas soaking in it for my head!

  • Frequent short breaks.

  • More notecards:
    I am a servant.
    I am serving the registrants.
    I am serving FGC.
    I am serving God.
  • Pray and pray and pray.

  • Blessings,


    GMC said...

    Liz, sounds like you have everything under control. Just remember to enjoy yourself, being a servant should be a joy, if not, maybe you are serving the wrong master!
    Peace and love

    Liz in the Mist said...

    I look forward to hopefully meeting you at Gathering! I will be the AM Coordinator for Group C (2's and 3's)

    Morgan said...

    Liz, thank you so much. This is very helpful for me right now as I prep for Gathering, too -- and in daily life! Blessings, Stasa

    Liz Opp said...

    Hi, everyone.

    Thanks for dropping by...

    GMC, will you be at Gathering? It'd be lovely to see you again.

    Lovin' Life Liz, sounds like you'll see Robin M quite a bit, since she's the Friend in Residence for Junior Gathering. Best way to meet me is probably going to be (1) at the interest group on Tuesday night, or (2) putting up a note for me on the huge message board that will be on display ("Liz Opp" will get to me!) and giving me a few options to choose from of when to meet during the week.

    Given my own responsibilities, I wouldn't count on me to approach you...

    Stasa - If my own ramblings and musing have meaning for you, so much the better!


    Robin M. said...

    Oh, this was very good. Last night I was in complete despair that I should not have said yes to going to the Gathering, that it was all too much, and an expensive lesson in not listening to flattery.

    Chris said I was being a bit hard on myself, and this morning I do feel better, including reading some of your suggestions for self care. Maybe I can use some of them as suggestions for people who come to me in distress during the week too.

    Anonymous said...

    comment and questions...
    actually i find this post helpful.

    also, i have posted a few questions on my blog and hope you will check them out. I would appreciate your imput.



    Liz Opp said...

    Robin - I'm sure we'll both have stories to tell when the week of Gathering is over!

    NaNcY - Thanks for dropping by and for sharing your blog address...

    Gotta run!


    Contemplative Scholar said...


    I have really appreciated this posting -- it was helpful to me as I prepared for FAHE.

    Something else that has been helpful to me: realizing that when people do get upset about something, it's more about them than about me. Realizing this helps me to let go of my own instinct-to-defensiveness and helps me to reach out to them in compassion.

    I realize that when people come to me with troubles, I have the opportunity to play a healing and reassuring role in their lives -- even if initially they seem upset at me! *Especially* if initially they seem upset at me, because their being upset betrays their pessimism that I (or anyone else) can help them, and so if I actually do help them, they are happily surprised. The universe has now provided them with new evidence that the healing power of love is real.

    But really all of this is just a restatement of what you have already said. Thank you again!