Being Flexible

What is the best personality to have? Should I be passive or should I be aggressive or should I be an imaginary point balanced between the two? When I ask that question I am asking an unanswerable question or maybe I am asking a mistaken question. I think there is another point of view that helps me respond in a healthy and loving way to events in my life.

From my neutral position, I see a situation in which God is asking me to be a little more passive in the current moment. At another point a few hours later I need to be even more passive to correctly order and lovingly respond to what I am facing. Another time I may need to be more aggressive.

When my need is to be at rest I close my eyes so I can rest. At this point I think I need to learn from the monastic fathers of our faith and need to be neither passive or aggressive. I need to have learned to meditate and put the circumstances of my life in God’s hands so I can recharge my depleted energy.

I once heard a woman share this story. She was a very busy lady mostly with things she was doing to help other people. She took time to meditate each morning which was how she centered herself tlo prepare for all she had to do that day.

One morning as she was meditating God said to her “There is something I want you to do for me.” She gulped and said “Oh God I am just too busy to do anything else today. Maybe I could do it for you tomorrow”.

The next day at prayer God made the same request “Please, I have something I want you to do”. She responded the same way in her fatigue. always putting God off one more day.

Day after day the same sequence occurred between the woman and her God. Finally one morning in annoyance and exasperation She said “OK God, What is it you want from me”? God responded “I need you to rest for the next few days and allow me to comfort you and refill you”.

That God wanted her to do less was a big surprise for her. As I live through the events of my life I need to remember that God is a very tenderhearted parent not a cruel Lord always demanding more and more from me.

I once was CEO of Union Rescue Mission of Los Angeles. The mission was a few months before the day that marked the day that was the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Mission. It occured to me that the Board of Directors might want to celebrate the mission’s anniversary with a float in the Rose Parade.

I thought that was really bad idea. I decided to prepare myself to squelch the float no matter what I had to do to do it. I said to myself “I will dance naked on the board table if that was what it took to kill the float idea”.

Sure enough a few months later at a monthly board meeting a member proposed the idea of a Rose Parade float. At that time a float would have cost about $250,000, I could see it was an idea that had a chance at passing. I went into action.

Angrily I told the board if they decided to do that I was not going to try to defend it to the public. If I got questions about why the Mission was spending all that money that people had given to help the poor on a float I wasn’t going to answer them. If our donors or the press asked questions like that I would refer their questions to the board. I would instead

give the press and anyone else who questioned the board members personal phone numbers to callI acted as aggressively as I could to stop a parade float. It was not built

.On the other hand in dealing with an upset daughter I often found it best to be as gentle as I could possibly be if she was a wounded by the harsh response of one of their classmates on the playground.

What I am saying is not that I should be aggressive or passive. Instead I wanted to be flexible and respond in the manner that was appropriate to the situation. When aggressiveness was called for I would be as aggressive as was appropriate. On the other hand if gentleness was called for I would be gentle as I needed to be.

I would respond to the events in the manner that was appropriate to the occasion. I would not presuppose a level of vigor I mistakenly thought was my basic character to be used in all situations.


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