Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell, Regional Executive Minister
I like to jog for exercise, and at one time I regularly ran 5K’s. Over the years, my body has changed shape, I’ve struggled to find time to run, and I’ve slowed down. What was once my warm-up pace is now often my top speed. However, what bothered me most was that my endurance decreased. I found myself barely making it one mile. For almost a year, that was the furthest I could jog without feeling exhausted.
Then one day recently, I changed my jogging playlist, and started thinking about something… and the next thing I knew, I was at 1.3 miles. I had reached “the zone,” a term used to describe that mental state when you’re running, but not thinking about running—where your mind is no longer holding back your body. Since that moment on that run, I’ve been able to get myself up to 1.5 miles outside and 2 miles on the treadmill, and I’ve increased my speed. My marathon running friends remind me that the first mile is always the hardest. Moving past that first mental block is difficult.
Mental blocks are common in other places of life. We may have been taught how to do something one way for so long that when someone shows us a different way, we think it’s impossible, or we think it’s plain wrong. There’s a saying that the seven deadly words in the church are: “We have always done it this way,” or “We have never done it that way.” There’s also this: “We tried it once; it didn’t work.”
Sometimes the move past the block happens the way it did for me while jogging—we don’t even realize it until after it occurs. We forgot that we’d changed the way we organized our worship since the pandemic began, and everyone accepted it. However, sometimes it takes careful planning to make a shift in our thinking. Many are recognizing the changes that came during the pandemic were quick and necessary, but now may need more careful thought as we adapt to a new way of worship and life together.
I also wonder what other sort of mental blockades we have based on what we’ve always done or how we’ve always thought about something before. Within the church, we’ve gone through about 20 years of change in the past three. It seems that everything we once took for granted can be questioned. What may be a mental block for us in our thinking and practicing our faith into the greater community? What else may the Spirit be opening us to that we couldn’t even imagine a few years ago as the body of Christ?
May we all be in prayer for the ways the Spirit is opening us to new ideas and insights as we follow Jesus.