Response: May 2015 Issue

Responsively Yours: Happiness in God

Responsively Yours: Happiness in God
Harriett Olson, center, laughs with directors Grace Pyen, left, and Tonya Murphy, right, during an October 2012 board of directors meeting.

Joining United Methodist Women gives us the chance to be actively involved in something larger than ourselves. From the very beginning, founders and leaders of the foreign and home missionary associations that laid the groundwork for our organization yearned to be involved in something "useful." They did not neglect faith development, family responsibilities or their involvement in their local congregations; however, they found in the women's mission work a chance to learn about the situations of women in their own cities and towns and around the world and then to be open to God's leading to live out their discipleship in witness, service and advocacy.

I hear similar things as I travel around from place to place and talk to United Methodist Women members about what excites them, what they want to do more of and how they see our organization's role in our denomination and in the world. "I want to make a difference," someone will say. Or "I want to be involved in something bigger than myself and in causes beyond institutional survival."

I've been thinking about these aspirations as I read about the hopes and dreams of today's younger women. One of the things that we all have in common is we want to make a difference.

I've also been thinking about this as we prepare for the 2015 spiritual growth study Created for Happiness: Understanding Your Life in God. Like me, you probably see "top 10" lists of things promised to bring happiness or wholeness or balance to your life. I don't treat these lists as gospel, but I think they are interesting for what they tell us about the yearnings of our era. These lists attract readers because many of us are not as happy or whole or balanced as we would like to be. It's interesting to me that these lists so often encourage readers to develop the spiritual aspects of their lives, to value relationships, to notice and learn about the world and its wonders and its needs and to be engaged in matters bigger than themselves.

Of course, it's possible to get caught up in the planning of aspects of our work that seem very mundane. Have we circulated the information that the team will need to review to make a good decision? Can everyone find a way to get to the meeting? Have we tied the theme to the displays and the activities so that we make the connections? Have we cared for people who need a special diet? But how powerful it is when it all comes together.

In the grand scheme of things, we care about all of the seemingly small things because we're engaged in something larger than ourselves. Because we see the needs of the world and the abundance of God and we feel the call to get involved and to make a difference. Happy indeed are we, who can respond to God's call, engage in our own process of transformation, connect with our sisters and make a difference in the world.

Thanks be to God.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women

Posted or updated: 5/4/2015 11:00:00 PM