Response: July/August 2015 Issue

Responsively Yours: Heads Up, Hearts Open

Responsively Yours: Heads Up, Hearts Open
A woman walks in Karonga, a town in northern Malawi. With your head up and heart open, you never know how much you can carry.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you are tense, or in a cold room or even walking outside when it's cold that you hunch your shoulders? It feels like a sort of protective posture, but I notice that when I do hunch my shoulders it makes it harder to take the sort of deep breath that I need.

I wonder if something similar happens in our spiritual lives as well. When we are facing difficulties or are unsure of the way God is leading us, it is tempting to move to a protective posture. Uncertainty can make us protective of what God has done in the past. After all, we know the story of what God was doing then and we can hold on to it. This is true for me personally, and I think it is also true for units, districts, conferences and even for The United Methodist Church as we focus on changes both inside and outside of the church and pray and plan for how to respond to God's call.

Though our instinct may be to hunch our shoulders, steady deep breaths are perhaps even more important in moments of tension or anxiety. Anyone who engages in heavy physical work or exercise knows that it is important to keep breathing. There is a demand on one's muscles and a need for concentration that can provoke some of us to actually begin holding our breath — which is certainly not helpful for the physical activity that requires breathing and thinking as well as strength. Similarly, anyone who sings or speaks in public knows that good posture and good breathing are foundational to being able to put your heart and soul into the moment and bring all your preparation into expression.

An open posture, in which our hearts are lifted rather than protected, is also important to our souls. We affirm that God is at work now, just as God has been at work in the past. God is at work in me and in us and in the great movements that are shaping the world. For us to be able to bring all of our preparation and experience into expression as we live as disciples and as women in mission, we need this posture too. It will be one that reminds us to breathe and to let the breath of God blow in and through us — cleansing, refreshing and re-creating us.

For many of us, summertime will include some time away from our regular routine. We may make a trip or visit family, and hopefully we will attend Mission u. These are opportunities to think about our spiritual and physical posture, to practice taking an open stance, and to breathe deeply of the Spirit.

May you have a time of refreshment and re-creation in this season, and may we together welcome the breath of God as God is moving us in our work of following Jesus in the world — turning faith, hope and love into action.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women


Posted or updated: 6/25/2015 12:00:00 AM

July-August 2015 cover of response


Additional Information

Mission u