For many years I have heard an expression that I think should become the next Beatitude: “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
In Luke 13: 10-17 we read about two people who are bent out of shape. One was a woman who for eighteen years had been bent over. For almost two decades, she was shuffling through life, head down and only able to look at people’s feet. Despite this she was very faithful in attending synagogue on a regular basis. She did not let her disability stop her from what she needed to do.
We meet another person in this passage who was also bent out of shape but not as obvious. He was the leader of the synagogue responsible for the building’s upkeep and the services that went on inside. He was probably a wealthy and influential man. He however was just as bent out of shape as the woman but his disability involved his heart and mind. He was so focused on the Law that he had very little or no flexibility or compassion.
One day while they were together at the synagogue, Jesus visited as a guest rabbi. During the service, Jesus called the woman to come before the congregation. Asking her to do this had broken several laws of propriety of the day. Men never acknowledged women in public or asked them to stand in front of a group of people. This would contaminate the entire building. Also when Jesus laid his hands on the woman he had broken another law because only husbands were allowed to touch a woman if she was his wife. The leader of the synagogue became bent out of shape. He freaked out, blew up and with a loud voice told Jesus that he was not allowed to work on the Sabbath and that included healings! How dare Jesus do this! He was not following the rules! Despite this the congregation celebrated that the woman was healed. The woman was able to stand up straight! Yet the leader was seething at Jesus’ blatant disregard for the Law.
In our lives we too have all experienced being bent out of shape. We become out of sorts for no reason, are angry at the world, lashing out at family, friends and coworkers. Maybe we feel overwhelmed or are experiencing conflict. Maybe there are old issues that we never got resolved from childhood. Whatever the reason, we have all been bent out of shape. We need to pause and stop for a moment. Take a few minutes to reassess our lives. Try to figure out what is causing this to happen.
What are we doing that weighs us down? What we letting others do to us that pushes our buttons?
We need to re-prioritize our lives. What is important and what is not?
Ask yourselves, as you are looking at the big picture of your lives, do those things that are making us upset really matter? Are we sweating the small stuff? Replace these feelings of grief or hostility with love.
Love for yourself, your neighbor and for God. Let love drive out the negativity in our hearts and minds. Get rid of all those things that get in the way of our happiness and keep us bent out of shape. Take time each day then to pray this prayer: God, we often allow ourselves to get bent out of shape about things that do not really matter. We wrap ourselves up in rules and regulations and the “shoulds” that restrict us and make us blind to your wonders of the world around us. Help us to be released from those binds and help us to fully live in your love.