I am reading a wonderful book called Presence by Amy Cuddy as preparation to work I am doing with the House of Bishops in June and a book I am writing about asking for major gifts in churches – the second in a trilogy of the ‘fearless” book series on annual fund, major gifts and membership growth.
She makes the point from research that when we hold our bodies in an open, expansive way, we are adopting a pose which the body interprets as a power pose and which causes the secretion of testosterone (the chemical which makes us bold and present as powerful and confident) and the reduction of cortisol (the chemical which makes us sad and scared).
I can’t help think of Jesus on the cross. It is true that his arms are up and out as a result of the nails. But in a way Jesus is “peacocking” (what people, usually men, do when seeking to impress or dominate in a social situation.) The glory of God is manifest in the cross and the resurrection and in both settings art throughout history has shown Jesus with arms out and up in the “V” of victory which human biology tells us is natural to all humans in all cultures.
If we are made in God’s image might we stand up and step forward rather than curl up and withdraw. Nervous people often touch their neck subconsciously because the human, when frightened, protects the artery on the neck which moves blood to the brain.
So we, as a church facing transition, need to stand up, be heard and be bold (not abusive, not bullying, just open and present) as we stride into our future. And the same goes for marriages, friendships and work settings. Pray. Breathe. Then stand up and take your place.