posture matters

post from: KrisAnne

Confession: I am still in the early stages of learning how to be a “local missionary.” I often stumble through the beginnings of conversations, unsure how to present who I am to the person I am talking to. I have tried to set aside Wednesdays and Fridays to spend a good portion of my day in Doylestown, and some mornings, I wake up and wonder what in the world I’m going to do there. To be honest, I sometimes feel fatigue… it is not easy trying to get to know a new place, new people. It takes quite a bit of energy. Some days, it feels like an exciting adventure; other days it feels like a chore… something I just need to get done and check off my list. How can I possibly learn to love, I mean LOVE, strangers? One thing I know– I am committed to learning this.

Here is my newest insight… my posture matters. I am not talking about my physical posture, although that matters, too. If I have my eyes on the sidewalk instead of taking time to smile at people, that communicates something. If my arms are crossed and my shoulders are slumped, am I welcoming people into relationship? Probably not. However, the posture I am talking about is a posture of the heart…

I have done my best to approach the people I meet in humility of heart. Because I know I am a student and not a teacher on this journey, I embrace that humble role. I get lost in town and ask questions. it’s lunch time, and I ask a passerby which restaurant they would recommend. I take paintings into a shop and ask for help getting them framed. I take a shell into a beading store and ask for help creating a necklace. I sit with someone at dinner and ask questions about gardening sweet potatoes and protecting my kale from those little green worms that seem to enjoy munching on the leaves. And I have discovered that this creates some kind of bond between us… they feel free to ask me questions, too.  When I see them again, we can pick up our conversation almost immediately.

I choose to meet them on their turf… if she works in an art shop, it’s a good bet art is her passion and joy and skill. If he runs a bookstore, he knows something about books and literature. I honor them when I respect and acknowledge their expertise. People respond positively to being honored, less so when I miss the opportunity to honor them.

Scott and I were sitting in a coffee shop, talking about spiritual transformation.  We were talking and laughing rather loudly.  A young man sitting near to us began shifting in his seat and frowning. He was definitely showing signs of irritation and annoyance, maybe even anger. Scott noticed before I did and realized that he was reading from a Jewish prayer book. He tried to begin a conversation with the young man… but he was frustrated and put-off enough that he did not want to talk to us. Certainly, that was his choice. But I wish that I would have been more observant and respectful of his space– more observant of my posture in that room that day (which probably communicated over-confidence, arrogance even). Perhaps an expression of humility on my part would have created an opening for friendship, or even just a simple conversation.

Questions I live with:

When I spend time with those who are not yet followers of Jesus, do I approach them as teacher or student? How can I show them honor and respect, even as I yearn for them to deepen their connection to God? How can I become more aware of the posture of my heart toward others?

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~ by missionindtown on July 27, 2011.

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