Flexibility as a Spiritual Discipline

There is a lot of talk about spiritual disciplines – one of the strong points of being a Christian is choosing to move forward, be better, and look for ways embrace the change that Christ endows to work through us.  I have personally enjoyed books written by Richard Foster (Celebration of Discipline) and Dallas Willard (Renovation of the Heart) which cover such topics as fasting, celebration, meditation, relationships, etc. and while these are good it’s very easy to fit spiritual disciplines into a container, limiting the scope of spiritual transformation.

After studying spiritual disciplines earlier this year I began to think about how my perspective on spiritual development might change if I looked outside of this traditional container of practiced disciplines.  My mind circled around the concepts of patience and flexibility in terms of how these contribute (either positively or negatively) to my spiritual well-being.  Keep in mind, patience is a lifelong virtue that I am continually struggling to learn – just last week I found myself pacing up and down Terminal C at LaGuardia Airport frustrated at the lack of information during a Delta induced delay.

When I look at flexibility as a spiritual discipline that can be practiced, I see several benefits that contribute to a better spiritual life:

  • More opportunities to connect with relationships
  • More awareness of my place in God’s Kingdom
  • Living life as an adventure rather than as a prescribed plan of events

Here’s how I personally attempt to live with more flexibility, opening myself up for more opportunities:

  • Expect the unexpected – create room in your daily schedule to embrace the opportunities that will make the difference.  If you don’t allow the time, you’ll never experience anything different.
  • Be spontaneous – act on a healthy impulse that isn’t something you hadn’t planned already for the day.  Don’t necessarily ‘plan’ spontaneity but indulge yourself in a healthy activity that takes a different route than planned.
  • Be intentional with free time for others (and everyone has it) – be purposeful and recognize your free time as having the ability to do something large or even small to serve others.
  • Be mindful and discerning of the day’s activities – choose to learn from chaotic moments and the lack of flexibility focusing on small areas of your life rather than larger, often immediately insurmountable areas.

The goal I keep in mind is to remain in a state where I am not self-indulgent and recognizing each opportunity, whether planned/expected or not, as an opportunity to live – perhaps in a different yet desired way.  God’s path for us is not linear, by no means, and a spiritual practice of flexibility enables each of us to be nimble as we discern God’s daily guidance in our lives.