I have spent time today with a nearly 4-year-old, a 3-month-old, and their lovely mum, and we’ve had some great conversations. Reflecting on these I think I have mainly listened, but perhaps not all the time, and I don’t think I’ve judged them. However reading the action for today has made me think of a close but sometimes difficult relationship I have with ‘Georgia’ who I see very few months.

For the most part Georgia and I get on very well and enjoy each other’s company but there is one area that we each struggle with – religion. Georgia has a strong faith, believes that she has ‘the truth’, and she fears that any who do not follow the same way will be damned. My faith is very different, as is my practice as a Quaker, and sometimes I find her certainty disconcerting. I am aware that my feelings of discomfort sometimes lead me to make assumptions about Georgia that may or may not be correct, and that I also pass judgements that again may not be accurate or fair. I am also aware that I find it difficult to ‘actively listen’ to her. I do need to work at this.

Two Advices and Queries from Quaker faith & action speak to me, the first in terms of looking at myself, and the second in relation to my reactions to, in this instance, Georgia:

No. 11: Be honest with yourself. What unpalatable truths might you be evading? When you recognise your shortcomings, do not let that discourage you. In worship together we can find the assurance of God’s love and the strength to go on with renewed courage.

No. 22: Respect the wide diversity among us in our lives and relationships. Refrain from making prejudiced judgments about the life journeys of others. Do you foster the spirit of mutual understanding and forgiveness which our discipleship asks of us? Remember that each one of us is unique, precious, a child of God.

Next time I am with Georgia and if the conversation turns to religion, I will try to listen carefully, and try to understand where she is coming from. I will also try to be aware of my internal responses and if I speak, try to do this with sensitivity.