I’ve been thinking a lot about flexibility. Emotional and mental flexibility. The ability to bend under varying pressures without tearing any fibers. Then, like an unexpected flash of lightning on a clear night, I read this by Henri Nouwen (whose spirit has obviously been peeking through the windows of our bus, or the thickly veiled windows of my soul):
“Trees look strong compared with the wild reeds in the field. But when the storm comes the trees are uprooted, whereas the wild reeds, while moved back and forth by the wind, remain rooted and are standing up again when the storm has calmed down.”
“Flexibility is a great virtue. When we cling to our own positions and are not willing to let our hearts be moved back and forth a little by the ideas or actions of others, we may easily be broken. Being like wild reeds does not mean being wishy-washy. It means moving a little with the winds of the time while remaining solidly anchored in the ground. A humorless, intense, opinionated rigidity about current issues might cause these issues to break our spirits and make us bitter people. Let’s be flexible while being deeply rooted.”
Clinging to my own positions, unwilling to let my heart be moved back and forth even a tiny bit by the ideas and actions of others.
How many times am I humorless? Opinionated? Rigid about current issues?
If there’s one thing I’m learning on this trip, it’s the importance of flexibility. I can be deeply rooted in my decision regarding where our next stop is, but if I’m unwavering in WHEN we’re going to leave or HOW LONG it will take to get there or EXACTLY WHAT TIME we will arrive, the little detours that come up, the innocent diversions, the unlooked for blessings…they all get plowed under by my unrelenting determination. Or even worse, when I try to knock over insurmountable obstacles, I get depressed or angry.
See life through a lens tinted by humor. Hold opinions loosely. Always remember, no matter how difficult it might be to accept, that you could be wrong. Seriously. It’s possible.
Become an emotionally flexible person.