Response: January 2017 Issue

Responsively Yours: Inspiration of the Present

Responsively Yours: Inspiration of the Present
Harriett Jane Olson

Have you ever found yourself telling the same story several times in one day or one week to different people, just because you have found it so powerful or moving that it is “top of mind” for a while? I certainly do, and sometimes I am surprised that I get choked up in the retelling! I often end up telling and retelling stories I hear or experience with you—women of various ages in various situations coming together to do meaningful and powerful work. Your giving, your speaking up (even when your voice shakes), your new ways of organizing and your faithfulness regularly inspire me.

Once the story gets to me, it usually doesn’t include the number of times people were invited to participate, or the limits that arose unexpectedly, or the requested help that didn’t quite materialize. I get to share just the part of the story that I see or that I hear from you—the story of the impact of your work. What would it be like if you could frame these stories with some of the same perspective, free, for the moment, from the challenges faced and savoring the results? I hope that is how you feel about stories in response and United Methodist Women News or on our website. I hope these stories inspire you and that you find yourself in their telling and retelling.

Sometimes we have to let go of comparisons to the past to allow inspiration of the present to show. A friend once said to me that there were once more people on the official board at her church than there were now in attendance on a Sunday morning. I had a hard time imagining those meetings, but it was not hard to imagine that any work underway to rethink ways of worshipping and serving the community would be overshadowed by this comparison. It would be possible for us to do the same thing about some of our work.

What if we made a pact to look for the inspiring stories among our leaders and members—people who attend Mission u or are working on climate justice or are supporting and developing United Methodist Women units in women’s prisons or are working with Justice for Our Neighbors or other organizations in their area to care for immigrant and refugee women and children or are reexamining their local, district and conference budgets to adjust spending and maintain Mission Giving. This list goes on.

We know that United Methodist Women has an inspiring history, and our ongoing celebration of 150 years of service and action is a great time to remember it and tell others. What we sometimes miss, in our yearning to do more and reach more people, is that we have an inspiring present as well. Many of us, together, are doing things we never dreamed possible. We are hearing God’s call, rooting ourselves in God’s love, educating and preparing ourselves and pouring ourselves out in service and advocacy.

United Methodist Women, you inspire me! Let’s not be shy about telling (and retelling) our story.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women

Posted or updated: 1/12/2017 12:00:00 AM