The Ability To Bend Without Breaking

This post is brought to you by Passionate Homemaking’s Monthly Contributor, Vina Barham.

When I was working as a recruiter for an international mission agency, one of things we emphasize in our training is the ability to go with the flow. To accept the unfamiliar for what it is, to let go of things beyond our control and to accept, no, to embrace the sometimes messy and often chaotic situations that one will inevitably find herself in.

Some call it tolerance. I call it, flexibility: the awesome ability to bend back and forth without breaking.

Accepting the Unfamiliar
When we come across something unfamiliar, or something that goes against our own way of doing things, how do we react? Often, we insist that the unfamiliar must change and conform to something more familiar or acceptable on our own terms. Take for example our children, who often speak a different language and have a different timetable from us. They want to play more and we want them to hurry up because we have adult things to do. Crying ensues, someone loses their patience and all kinds of simple desires collide. The ability to bend without breaking is the ability to truly accept the Unfamiliar Other without disrespecting ourselves. We accept that it is most natural for children to want to play longer, allow them the most time we can generously offer, slow down and be awake to the moment that is Now.

Letting Go
The ability to bend without breaking is to let go of our need for control. To abandon the Pursuit of the Perfect. We tend to hold on tightly sometimes to our Ideals and we become Purists in that we easily get frustrated and depressed when things don’t turn out the way we expect them to. A good example is our expectations with our spouse. We want them to be a certain way, to say certain things and to treat us in certain manners. This is an exercise in futility. We can only control ourselves: our thoughts, our words and our actions. We can never control our spouse and as long as we try to do so, no matter how gentle and sweet we package it, we become unnecessarily burdened by all the stuff we try to carry on our shoulders that is not for our taking.

Embracing the Mess
Finally, the ability to bend without breaking is the ability to embrace the mess of this Life. Of Your Life. There is no need to constantly berate yourself for the blips and blunders because it’s simple part of being human. Nobody is shocked that you are not Perfectly Put Together. And yet we are, and we put so much effort in appearing to be otherwise. And we teach our kids the same thing. We have to learn to loosen up, let our hair down sometimes and learn how to get Dirty without Dying. To be dis-illusioned by our ability to be Messy people and yet still be hopeful for the Beautiful to emerge is a Rare and Lovely Thing that our world needs more of.

The ability to bend to the Mud of Life without completely losing sight of our Glory is perhaps one of the best gifts we can give to our children. Some call it Grace. The Way of The Middle. How are you practicing your ability to bend without breaking?

About Vina

Vina spends much of her ordinary days getting to know her winsome daughter and seeing the world through her eyes. She loves learning about everyday simplicity and authenticity, which she shares in her blog, A Nourishing Home.


20 Responses to The Ability To Bend Without Breaking

  1. Wordpress Themes August 2, 2010 at 5:31 am #

    Amiable post and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you on your information.

  2. Kim Kauffman July 28, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    This was a good post for me – we are expecting our first baby in six weeks and it looks like she might be breech. I’m learning that all I can do is try the methods that might work to turn her, but after that it’s really up to God. I have no control, no matter how much I feel like it sometimes. God is definitely teaching me right now and it’s good to remember that I can let go and not break!

  3. Catie July 28, 2010 at 6:19 am #

    I really needed this today! We were just blessed with our second little girl two weeks ago and as wonderful as it is, I’ve been getting a bit depressed thinking about all of the things that “need” to get done. I’ve been getting overwhelmed! Also, I’m pretty sure I have way too high of expections for poor hubby!! This post really spoke to me! Thank you!

  4. Kendra July 27, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    I have been thinking about this very subject so much today! Especially when it comes to giving up unrealistic expectations and “control” over spouses. Today I am trusting in God, He’s the One who’s really in control! :)

  5. Jan July 26, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    Your post could not have been more pertinent to a situation in our marriage that is causing us grief today. Thank you so much for reminding me that I cannot and should not try to control and that situations do not have to turn out perfectly for every one every time. There is such freedom in embracing these (messy) truths.
    Bless you!

  6. Lauren July 26, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    I am so glad that I read this post today. I am getting ready to go as a missionary to Sudan. Having taught overseas before, I’ve had some practice at being flexible. But, for some reason, this time seems to be much harder. I can feel myself starting to crack under the pressure of everything changing. Your words are a great reminder to me. Thank you so much!

  7. Lauren July 26, 2010 at 6:26 pm #

    I’m so glad that I read this post today. I’m getting ready to travel as a missionary to Sudan. Having taught overseas before, I’ve had some practice at being flexible. But, for some reason, this time feels harder. I’ve been feeling myself start to crack under the strain of change. Your message was very relevant and timely for me! Thank you.

  8. Mandy July 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    Such a good reminder! As a Mama of two two year olds and a 9month old, the different time-table in ever apparent to me, but like you said, I try to generously bend as much as possible to make their lives enjoyable, which really makes mine more enjoyable too. Great post!

  9. WS July 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    This really relates to my life right now. We are hoping to foster to adopt a child that we’ve had for 1 1/2 years. Today I learned that it will be at least another 6 months before we know and even then it is iffy. We love her like she is our own without knowing if she ever will be. Messy and beautiful.

    • Vina July 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

      Oh wow, WS I feel for you. We hope to foster-adopt a child someday too and I can only put myself in your shoes. Hugs.

  10. Joy Y. July 26, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    Beautifully done! I find that the more I realize life is NOT about me…my agendas, my expectations of my children, my way of doing thins….the more I let go of this the more content I become. Releasing these things daily to God’s will and NOT my own…that is my ultimate goal. Again, I am always a work in progress…..and that’s okay with me!

    • Vina July 26, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

      Joy, I am totally with you about being a work in progress! Realising these things daily to God, as you said is something I hope to daily practice in my life too.

  11. Kara @SimpleKids July 26, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    Vina, this is beautiful!

    “The ability to bend without breaking is to let go of our need for control.” – YES!

    Here’s to letting go of perfect and just being happy in the moment :-)

    • Vina July 26, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

      Hi kara!

      Yes to letting go, happily!

  12. Barb July 26, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    What wonderful advise, something we can use . . . at any age! We will all have challenges along the way, and you have given some very good guidelines in your post to make our journey much easier! Thank you!

  13. cheyenne July 26, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    wonderful post! it is very timely…thanks for posting

  14. Leslie July 26, 2010 at 6:30 am #

    I needed to hear this today….thank you. I try too hard to make my children into ‘little adults’, and not give them a chance just to be children. Thank you for giving me permission to ‘allow’ them to be children, to get messy, to mess up the house, and yes even to handle the tougher situations in life that I am dealing with right now in the split up of my parents after 35 years of marraige. So very timely.

    • Vina July 26, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

      Oh Leslie, I feel for you. I’m sending a virtual hug and prayer right now! Life is messy, and children are messy, and well, we are all messy in our own way. We’re all in this together and thankfully there is a Greater Beauty that holds us all in place somehow.

      • Leslie July 27, 2010 at 6:30 am #

        Thank You Vina for your kind words!

  15. Jen July 26, 2010 at 5:59 am #

    Thanks so much for this–beautifully put.