Excerpt from: Choose Your Attitude, Change Your Life
Day 18: Choosing Flexibility
“A flexible person is a happy person,” my husband said, mimicking the expression I always use to adjust my attitude when my precious plans go awry. This was his way is letting me know that something had just gone wrong but that he was putting forth an effort to “go with the flow”. While I haven’t “arrived”, I have made great strides in overcoming my rigid attitude. I used to put my plans in cement, and woe unto anybody who changed them. I would mostly likely strike their names off my list for any future interaction. Thank God for deliverance. Over twenty years ago, the wife of a long time friend of mine joined him on one of his revival trips to Los Angeles. When her flight arrived, she learned that her luggage had been lost. The revival service would start shortly. I’m sure she had planned to wear a special outfit and all eyes would be on her as the speaker’s wife; however, she showed no frustration or disappointment with the course of events. Her flexibility and peacefulness affected me in a profound way. I decided then that I would make every effort to become a flexible person. In fact, I renew my commitment each time I observe someone at the height of frustration simply because he refuses to be flexible. Ray is a typical example. His job as a city maintenance worker requires him to share a truck with another man whom I’ll call Jack. Jack tends to get extremely hot and requires the windows in the vehicle to remain down–even when it’s quite chilly outside. Ray often finds the discomfort unbearable and infuriating. He has confronted Jack several times about the issue; company management refuses to get involved. When I counseled him recently, I simply asked, “Why don’t you just take a heavier jacket to work since it’s easier to peel off layers of clothes? Jack obviously has a medical condition that causes his problem and there is a limit to the level of clothing he can peel off.”At first, Ray was stuck on the fact that it just “should not be so”. When I pointed out that it was he–typical of inflexible people–who seemed to be experiencing the most emotional turmoil, he realized that he could continue to live in “Shouldville” where everything happens at it “should”, or he could simply make the necessary changes. Someone once said, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” Such was the case with Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army, who was afflicted with leprosy. His wife’s maid, a Jewish captive, suggested that he visit the prophet Elisha to seek healing. He had envisioned the healing scenario before he left home. However, when he arrived, Elisha didn’t even bother to come out and greet him.
But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy. But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage”(2 Kings 5:10-12 NLT).
Even in his needy condition, Naaman clung to his rigid attitude. Had it not been for the wise intervention his servants who encouraged him to at least try what the prophet had said, he would not have received his healing. Fortunately, he adjusted his attitude and after his seventh dip in the dirty Jordan River, his leprosy disappeared.
Do you resist change and insist on your expectations? If so, find a quiet place and reflect on the following questions:
- What are the unknowns that I fear about this change or deviation on plans?
- If none of the things I fear could happen, how could this change improve the quality of my life spiritually, relationally, emotionally, financially, or physically?
- Am I willing to risk God’s perfect will by resisting a change he is orchestrating? (Know that your inflexibility is an attempt to control an outcome. Many miss God’s best because, like Naaman, they have put him in a box and are only looking inside the box for their answer. Force yourself to look “outside the box”by being flexible.)
- Am I being lazy or complacent and not wanting to invest the necessary time and effort into the change?
- Start to embrace a different way of doing something–even simple things–each day (e.g., go a different way to work, sit in a different section at church, interact with a person you don’t know, etc.) Also, try meditating on these quotes from great men regarding change:
- “Every human has four endowments: self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom – the power to choose, to respond, to change” (Steven Covey).
- “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”(John Fitzgerald Kennedy).
- “The world hates change yet it is the only thing that has brought progress” (Charles Franklin Kettering).
- One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it (Peter F. Drucker).
Lord, help me to acknowledge you in all my ways so you can direct my path. Give me the emotional and spiritual strength to embrace every change that you have destined for me to achieve your purpose. In the name of Jesus, I pray Amen.