Last week in my exercise class, the instructor kept telling us, “Lead with your heart.” And, I kept trying. Our instructor would stand tall at the front of the class and demonstrate for us: shoulders back, rib cage lifted, her heart presented forward to the world.
I grew up in ballet classes. I was practically born with ballet slippers on my feet. I know how to lead with my heart. I know how to lift my rib cage, lower my shoulders, and let my heart take me where the music leads. But, last week, in that exercise class, I couldn’t quite get it. My shoulders kept folding forward and my chin kept dipping low, closing my heart off from the world.
“Breathe,” the instructor said. “And let your heart lead.”
She kept prompting us, and I kept trying to follow where she was trying to get me to go. At one point, the instructor said to us, “It feels vulnerable, right?”
Throughout the one-hour class, I did my best to let my heart lead, physically. And I started to wonder if this was a prompt our instructor always gave to us. Or was she homing in on something different today? Maybe she always said it, but today was the day I noticed it? I couldn’t be sure. What I do know is this: as the class rounded the fifty-minute mark, my body and my soul finally connected, and I wondered if this was more of a message from God, through my instructor, and straight to me.
So, as we all sat together on the floor, stretching our limbs and trying to lead from our hearts, I sent up a little prayer, searching for clarity.
“God,” I said in my head, as I sat on the floor of Fellowship Hall in the Episcopal Church where the exercise class is held, “if You’re trying to tell me something, here, can You just do me a favor and make it clear that this is a message from You and not simply something my exercise instructor is trying to get me to hear? So, how about this? If she says the, ‘Lead with your heart,’ thing again, I’ll know it’s from You.” And, just as I finished praying those words in my head, our instructor said, “Maybe the thing you’re supposed to take from this class today is the reminder to lead with your heart.”
So, I’ve been carrying that around with me for the past week. Lead with your heart.
I am tempted here, to tell you what I think it means for me to lead with my heart. And I could type up a list of five ways to lead with your heart and paste the list here in this space, so that you’d have a reference point. But I don’t think that’s what I’m supposed to do. I think, today, what I’m supposed to do, is pass along the message to you: Lead with your heart.
Our reference point is Jesus. Our guidebook is the Bible. Our mission is love.
Pure and simple. As plain as that. Vulnerable? Yes. Counter-cultural? Indeed. But, maybe it’s exactly what we need, for such a time as this.