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Thursday, March 26, 2015

How Flexible Are You?


My wife had always been very flexible.  Come to think about it, I would have to say that she has been pretty flexible in most areas of life!  When we were meeting with her brain specialist in San Francisco about a year ago, her doctor who was checking her reflexes and joint movement, took Piper’s hands in hers and with a wisp of amazement paused and declared “What tiny hands she has.”  Her comment drew a laugh out of me and I began to regale her with stories of how flexible and capable those little hands were!
I told of how she could fly those little fingers across the keys of a piano.  How her flexibility would allow them to stretch in what seemed like some of the most awkward positions in order to play the necessary chords in any given piece… with minimal effort I might add!  Piper used to make our kids laugh with demonstrations of how she could bend her double jointed fingers into shapes that none of us in the family could mimic.
I would always be amazed as she could stand at the changing table with our oldest son, be changing him and then without more than a glance, backhand the folded diaper across the room into the waste basket!  I tried that once… and let’s just say I had a mess to clean off the wall… (sorry, didn’t mean to gross you out!)  I observed her many times as she nonchalantly held our toddler son in one arm and happily changed his baby sister with the other!
Then there were the many times she would shimmy through the small sliding window on our little Datsun 4X4 pickup in order to minister to the two children seat belted into their car seats in the back of the truck in the covered bed we had customized for the kids travel needs while on vacations.
When we were dating in high school she would amaze me as she would play softball with our group of friends in her jeans and t-shirt like one of the guys and then knock me off my feet as she answered the door dressed up in a gorgeous dress, looking like a million bucks for our date that evening.  She was always very adventurous.  Like me, she loves the outdoors, took walks just about every day and has enjoyed hiking and riding bikes.  Then there was her daily regimen of Canadian Air Force exercises…
I can remember the day like it was yesterday when I was shocked in the realization of the visible evidence a few years back, that she was losing her coordination as part of the progression of the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.  Her steps were slower, her movements a little bit hesitant, and her sure footedness impaired as she began to trip up over little things like a wrinkle in an area rug or a dog toy left on the floor.
When I read from Philippians 3:13-14 this morning, I also realized that Paul, to some extent, was also talking about the potential of us losing our spiritual flexibility.  Here he tells us that “I can’t consider myself a winner yet.  This is what I do: I don’t look back (instead) I lengthen my stride, and run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.” (God’s Word ©)
As I read this I had the impression that Paul was saying that when difficult times come to us or to those we love that we shouldn’t just follow a set pattern or plan.  We don’t necessarily just do what we’re comfortable doing or what we’ve always done.  We should change our stride or our game plan, look to see what’s going on and move in tune to the specific need of the situation, changing our approach as necessary!  Another way to say it would be to not get stuck in always doing things the same old way.  To not keep looking back, but to stay focused on what is ahead and be open to change!
Last night I found myself discussing the subject of yesterday’s post “Man Up!” with my wife.  I got to thinking about the individuals who, in my opinion, failed to “Man Up” when I realized that they always tended to play a certain role when various situations arose.  When that role was no longer available to them or just not appropriate in my wife’s case, it seemed that they no longer knew their place and simply chose to fade out of the picture. 
That revelation also caused me to pause as I got a picture of how difficult or fearful that must have been for them.  That may be one reason for some of the distasteful things that were said and done.  It felt like they might have been unable or unwilling to take Paul’s advice to be flexible and change one’s approach with the uniqueness of each situation.
I have come to learn through my personal experiences in this adventure in faith, that the main goal to keep first and foremost in my mind is doing whatever I need to do in order to reach the goal for the prize of God’s high calling in Christ.  At this point, it no longer matters what I want or what I am comfortable in doing.  My wife’s needs and God’s desires for me in helping to meet those needs is the only thing that is important.
I have come to understand that real love, God’s agape love goes with the flow!  It always stays flexible and molds itself in God’s image in the process of meeting the needs of the situation currently at hand.  His love tends to remove the emphasis off of the “Me” and directs it to “Him!”
I get very excited every time I see a demonstration of some of my wife’s flexibility return… no matter how miniscule the example may be.  When I was helping her to walk into the restroom last night I could hardly contain myself as she took several completely normal steps and swung her right foot up and over a section of the small throw rug that had bunched up.  That may seem like nothing to you… but it is magnificent when you consider that there where days over the last few weeks when I would have to literally hold her up and at the same time bend over and physically lift up her leg in similar situations… and believe me, that is no small task as I was NEVER as limber as she was… and will be again!
So… think about that as you maneuver through your day today.  Just how flexible are you in your approach to the situations you face?  Do you keep looking or going back to how you’ve always done it… or are you flexible to change into whatever is best for the current situation before you?  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to God’s Word and keep asking yourself… “What or How FLEXIBLE am I expecting to be today?”

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