It happens. Something happens that upsets us. We get angry. We get frustrated. Even our physical demeanor changes as we become red face. We get “bent out of shape”. The phrase means to take offense; to become angry, agitated, or upset. Something has set us off so much that we are all twisted up inside about it. We can’t think straight, our emotions are high, and we are visibly upset.
In the Gospels, Jesus often caused people to get bent out of shape. This was especially true of the religious leaders who disapproved of the way he conducted himself. The Jewish religion of the day had strict guidelines and instructions on how one should live. There were certain things you were not permitted to do. This was especially true about the Jewish Sabbath. Strict observance of the Sabbath meant working and other activities were simply not permitted.
In Luke 10: 13-17 we read the following story of Jesus healing a woman on the Sabbath. “Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are set free from your ailment.’ When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, ‘There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.’ But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?’ When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.”
This particular woman had been physically bent out of shape for 18 years. She could not stand straight up, but hunched over, she lived looking at the ground. When Jesus sees her condition, he extends compassion and heals the woman. However, the leader of the synagogue becomes bent out of shape because Jesus healed on the Sabbath. According to policy and procedures guidelines, Jesus should have waited till after the Sabbath. Jesus broke the rules when he healed the bent out of shape woman. I think most people when we read this story think how ridiculous it was for the leader of the synagogue to become so upset about breaking a rule to help a person.
Sometimes we become bent out of shape on things that really in the big picture don’t matter. Someone says something or does something and immediately we find ourselves twisted up inside, walking around miserable and mad, and generally unhappy with life at the moment. We end up bent out of shape about something we should have just let go in the first place. Yet, for some reason, we are good at holding on to these feelings and allow them to disrupt all the goodness around us. All the synagogue leader could see was his anger, while he missed the bigger picture.
So, the next time something bends us out of shape, let us think about what it is that is really making us upset. Is it justified? Is it worth it? And if the answer is no, then just let it go and then go forth and live your life. It is ironic in the story that the woman walks away free from her bent over condition while the religious leader leaves all bent out of shape. We don’t have to live bent of our shape. Jesus can straighten us all out as he teaches us about what really matters in life. Life is too short to get upset about some things. Jesus always shows us a better way.