My Plain Testimony

The plain dress witness was not a place of arrival for me but a process of evolvement that spanned many, many years.  It would be difficult not to recognize that my midwifery work among the Amish and Old Order
Mennonites for over two decades could have had an influence on such an inclination, but merely copying a testament of faith is very different from actually living a testament of faith and that is what the plain dress witness is for me - a living witness to the conviction of my dedicated, consecrated service to God and a testimony to His greatness, goodness and mercy.  It is the visible sign of my Christian Quaker vocation lived as God has led me to which I humbly accept as an undeserved privilege.

How did it happen?  That is difficult to put into words but I am led to try.  To start, it is frankly a perfect wonder that one as stubborn as I could be drawn out of a haughty sense of self to visibly live apart from the ideals of a material world.  But, God wills what He wills and though unworthy, I am greatly blessed by His patience.  The transition took a long time but it was a steady evolvement that started when I was still a young woman and felt deeply led, even back then, to set aside fashion for simplicity.

Following those early inner leadings, my clothing choices (and lifestyle) became increasingly plain as the stylish contents of my closet were gradually given away and replaced with modest, discreet clothing - much of it handmade or second hand.  Simplicity of lifestyle in general just made me feel more true to my innately conservative nature.  Because I was never really flamboyant in the first place, those changes were easily accepted by my family and peers as the taken for granted eccentricity of my character "type" being a
classical musician, fiber artisan, writer and shepherdess.  Thusly was I lovingly accepted.

Yet, this was not an issue of clothing or becoming plain for plain sake.  It was a spiritual beckoning of the Holy Spirit to align with Christ and God's purpose for my life which manifested as a serious concern needing to be worked out.  Being a woman's activist and educator, my profession demanded a primary focus on issues of worldly significance with spirituality being a close but peripheral consideration.  However, God would not be denied and Christ continued to knock on the door of my heart offering His lead if only I would follow. How proud and independent could a person be?  This person truly knew.

Therefore, my plain dress witness was more than just a yearning for simplicity, it was the turning over of my will to God and submitting to His call - following an inner direction that could no longer be denied or set aside.  I didn't understand it for a long time and was often frustrated to tears over it.  More than once I found myself utterly annoyed by the fact that the leading in my heart would not just GO AWAY and pass as a novelty.
Surely, that was all it was - a passing novelty.  At my age, people didn't just make radical changes, at least this person doesn't, and anyway, I had studied and even participated in conservative Christian worship for
most of my life - why be different now?  What would people say?  What would my family think?  I wanted exacting justification and an easy explanation but neither was forthcoming.  Despite being almost anxious over it at times, one simple thought continually resounded as a balm to my soul, "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10).

I often found myself dwelling on that scripture.  This leading was so different that my black and white perception of reality could hardly make sense of it.  So, I prayed - more often than not begging for the
compulsion to pass as I could not imagine how to effect such a life change and didn't even know where to start. I wanted things my way, and asked for my will to be done, begging God to understand my limitations.  It was only after setting my "self" aside and asking to know His will that I came to accept what I could not understand and was given the comfort of Philippians 4:7 - "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  With God all things are possible, including the submission of my single sighted willful self, especially when Proverbs 3:5 is put into practice - "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."

With a heart condition more submissive and open, I was led to conservative, plain Quakerism and all the pieces then fell into place.  When I opened the door to Christ, He led me through to the narrow way that He spoke of in Matthew 7:14 with the direction of being called apart as spoken of by Paul - "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:12-14)

As a plain Quaker, I endeavour to walk worthy of that calling every single day and try with all of my heart to be sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit in my life while accepting that I have a very great deal to learn. Being now different in a visible way certainly does not make me better than anyone else - far, far from it. It simply keeps me aware of my place - submissive and obedient to God and also checks that treacherous stumbling block, pride.  This has resulted in many blessings.  One such blessing, unexpectedly realized, has been the opening opportunities of encouragement through Christian conversation with people I meet who inquire of my faith wherefore explaining, the love and salvation of Christ is witnessed to.  This is one part of my Christian ministry, (my Internet hosted children's stories another), as directed and defined by God and I look to Him to reveal more ways in which to use me for His glory.  As Saint Therese of the Child Jesus (the Little Flower) said - "I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth."

What took time to adjust to has now become normal; what I felt so utterly unworthy of, I now surrender to in faith and obedience to God's will for me, and He has given me the strength and resources to overcome doubts and obstacles.  Being called to be apart and following as Christ leads has brought a measure of inner joy, peace to my soul, and meaning to my life that I never thought possible in this world and is truly beyond any practical explanation by human or worldly standards.  My joy is like that of the ancient songwriter whose song of praise he counted more worthy to be remembered than his name:
"Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and thou only, first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art."

It must suffice to say that I follow as my Saviour leads and endeavour to hearken as God calls with childlike trust and faith. I don't ask why anymore, but seek only to serve God, through His Son Christ Jesus, and
look no further than His will for me which is now, and I pray for the grace of all time to be, a humble and obedient plain servant at the feet of God Almighty.

- Kimberly Anne Makela

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