Word Up Wednesday: Bend or Break / by Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah

I am not stubborn, per se, but I can be obstinate and unyielding. (Ok, ok, I’m stubborn.)

 The proof is in my tense shoulders and tight hips. I didn’t think I was as obstinate as I am until I had children. Marriage and motherhood have a way of showing you who you really are. Anyhow, there are things that I want done a certain way at a certain time. I push and push to get things done my way and, for better or worse, my kids don’t care what I want when I want it. It’s not just my children. The reality is that not everything is going to go my way all the time. Yet, I take a rigid stance; A stance that leads to stress. In all honesty, I even take this stance with God from time to time. I say, “Holy Spirit have your way,” and then fuss when the Spirit’s way doesn’t fit my plan. 

When I was a CPE Chaplain Intern, one of my learning goals during all of my four units was to be less rigid, more flexible. I worked at it. But since completing the program, left to my own devices, I have stiffened up...literally and figuratively. 

Tonight bore witness to this. Just tonight, but the past few weeks, really. I’ve been under a tremendous amount of stress largely due to my desire to be in control, to have things done my way. But as the pressure mounts I recognize I have one of two options: Bend or Break. 


Breaking manifests itself in tense muscles, irritable mood, raised blood pressure, isolation, and even hospitalization. Getting my way isn’t worth breaking; So I must bend. I must be flexible. I must be spontaneous. I must yield to what is rather than projecting what I want to be and seeking it at all costs, including my emotional and spiritual health, and especially the joy of my family. I won’t become the strong, bending bamboo overnight. It’s a process.

Full disclosure: When I started this post, our three year old cane out of her room for the umpteenth time and I was frustrated because bedtime is bedtime (sounds mighty oak tree-ish). I fussed at her and returned to my room, feeling like a fraud because I was writing about bending as I was unyielding with our daughter. I stopped writing and put this aside for about an hour when I recognized that just because I haven’t mastered it, doesn’t mean it’s not worth writing, sharing, and moving towards. 


So, dear readers, are you a rigid oak or a yielding bamboo? Any practical tps for becoming a more flexible person?