Response: March 2015 Issue

Responsively Yours: I Chose Spanish

Responsively Yours: I Chose Spanish

How do you see the work of God in your life? Sometimes it is in seemingly small choices.

I remember very clearly sitting in my sixth grade classroom in one of those old buildings with massive wood-framed windows. We would soon be in seventh grade in the high school building, and we had choices to make. There was a process for sorting us into English, math and social studies classes, but we were able to choose the foreign language we would study. There were other languages available in the ninth grade, but for us the question was: French or Spanish? At that time, U.S. educational philosophy considered Spanish of more utilitarian value but French more prestigious. Our teachers expected us to take French—and most of my friends did. But Spanish intrigued me. I remember thinking that someday I might meet someone who spoke this language, and my learning would have practical benefit. I chose Spanish.

Since then I've had more than a few chances to meet and speak with Spanish speakers. I wish I were more fluent, better able to connect what I learned with what I want to say and be confident that I'm understanding what others are saying. I'm thinking about this now because I had the opportunity to travel to Chile to speak to Methodist women there, and my rusty Spanish got a workout!

In some ways, this sort of choice—weighing the expected against something that might be useful—is the kind of choice God presents us over and over again. This particular choice didn't involve any great sacrifice or courage on my part, but it was a moment to think beyond the expected pattern and to make a choice for the "useful" alternative.

I suspect that as United Methodist Women members and leaders we have this kind of choice-making opportunity on a regular basis. The decisions we're making may not be monumental ones with earth-shattering consequences, but we often get the chance to question the expected plan and consider other creative ways to engage mission and carry out the Purpose. In fact, we might want to make it a point to question assumptions about planned actions that will have a significant impact. Let's state the assumptions out loud so that we can examine them. Are they still true? Do we expect them to lead to the outcomes that we've said are important? What other values or aspirations should lay alongside the expected course of action for perspective?

While our disciplined study and our intentional listening prepare our hearts to respond to the call of God to participate in God's work in the world, sometimes it seems that small moments of clarity pop up in unexpected areas, and we can only see the impact of the choices we make in those moments in hindsight. God bless you as you recognize those moments and see new possibilities for United Methodist Women to be useful in God's work.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women

Posted or updated: 3/2/2015 11:00:00 PM

March 2015 cover of response