I was at a meeting once when I heard someone say, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not get bent out of shape.” That statement elicited a lot of belly laughs (including one from me). It keeps resurfacing in my mind, though, and it doesn’t make me laugh anymore. It makes me think.
Flexibility is almost always viewed as an asset. If we’re not flexible, we’re going to limit ourselves a lot in life. I use that word often. People call me and ask if they can make an appointment. My answer is usually in the affirmative, and I tell them my schedule is flexible. Because of that, we can usually meet at a time that’s best for them.
“We strive to be flexible.”
Flexibility is a key to many things. Scheduling, working with others, and trying out new ideas…just to name a few. We strive to be flexible. And if the quote above is correct, we shall not get bent out of shape.
Getting bent out of shape isn’t always avoided through flexibility, however—or is it? How flexible must we be to avoid getting angry entirely? I’m not sure anyone is THAT flexible.
We live in a society where getting bent out of shape seems to be a way of life. We get angry over the smallest things. If we perceive someone has looked at us the wrong way, we get bent out of shape. If someone says something we don’t like, we seldom give them the benefit of the doubt. How do we know they meant it the way we took it? We don’t, but we get bent out of shape. It’s our right, and we’re not that flexible.
“It’s a tough balancing act…”
On the other end of that spectrum, sometimes we’re too flexible. Sometimes we let things slide that should never be tolerated. We allow ourselves, or others, to be hurt (or hurt themselves) because we pride ourselves in our flexibility. Live and let live occasionally goes a bit too far. Sometimes that’s where I find myself, but it’s a tough balancing act to keep from sliding to one end or the other.
I was out in my Jeep running errands this afternoon, and it seemed like every five minutes someone was blaring their horn at someone else. It could be that I simply live in one of the worse traffic areas of the country, or it could be that people behind the wheel are really inflexible (or impolite, impatient, or just plain bad drivers).
I’ve never been able to decide whether that fake beatitude is legit or not. I suppose, if we’re totally flexible all the time, we’ll never get bent out of shape. It’s a non sequitur, however, because no one has ever achieved that (at least no one I know of). Even Jesus tossed a few tables around in anger (righteous as it may have been).
His tirade in the temple gives me hope. Total flexibility might not be necessary. If it is, I’ve got a long way to go.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]