When I was a little girl in the 60’s I had a little bendable cartoon figure named Gumby. He was the loveliest shade of teal. He had a horse named Pokey who was orange. I loved bending Gumby to ride Pokey or to sit on the floor next to me. Those of you from my generation would know who he is, as well as those of you who are into all things Retro!

Gumby is my code word for being flexible.  I’ll always want to be like Gumby, albeit I don’t ever want to be green!

One conversation my husband and I frequently have is about staying flexible even as we grow older.  Not just in the physical sense, because we will walk and exercise and all that. It seems that there is plenty of good information about how to grow older and maintain good health. No, the flexibility I’m referring to is an elasticity of heart and mind.
We have noticed over our nearly 28 years of marriage numerous people who over time become static, rigid and in danger of fossilizing. It seems inevitable, but I know it doesn’t have to be.  It’s all too easy to let ourselves slip-slide into sureness. We grow more confident of ourselves as we age which is actually quite enjoyable after all the years of unsureness and insecurity! And in the accumulating years, we become accustomed to thinking and doing things in our own particular way and let’s face it, change is hard. Why change if we don’t have to? I think there are certain areas where we should learn to change whether or not we think we “have to.”
The first area that comes to mind is technology. I remember my second or third year of teaching school getting my first computer for my classroom. A big old box of a thing it was. Now we have tiny ones on our iPhones! I absolutely love mine! But there are so many changes happening so quickly that we really have to be intentional if we don’t want to get left too far behind. One of my fears is that I will be calling my adult son several times a day with technical questions especially when he’s 50 and I’m 76! I’m not proud to admit that I actually called him once a few years ago while he was living in Afghanistan! I needed help desperately! Really! It was the most expensive tech question I’ve ever had!
Another area that needs changing is that of relating to younger generations. It’s a dead give-away when someone says, “Kids these days . . . .”  I feel my blood pressure rise when I hear that. (And I haven’t been a kid in a long time!)  It’s tempting to feel that way when someone who looks too young to drive cuts us off in traffic, or does some other inconsiderate action. It’s too easy to make generalized statements about a certain group of people.  Negative statements, whether we verbalize them or not, are judgmental and divisive.  It’s good to remind ourselves that we were once kids also. Youth are still learning, growing and maturing. That’s what they’re supposed to do! Those processes take time. You don’t ever hear someone saying, “Babies these days!”  We all know they are learning and growing and maturing.
Finally, when I think of someone who is fossilizing, what comes to mind is someone who has stopped being teachable. Someone who thinks they know it all. C’mon, no one knows everything, and there are so many new and wonderful things to marvel about every single day! People who have lost their love of learning, or sadly never had one, have missed out on so much joy! They become stodgy and uninspiring to be around. It is precisely this type of person that might provoke some young people to make generalizations about older folks!
The only thing worse than someone who thinks they know it all and have stopped learning is someone who thinks they know it all, have stopped learning and condemn others for not being just like them. Yuck. That is pride. It’s just ugly.
Jesus said in Matthew 18:3-4, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (NIV)
Little children know they don’t know everything. They are guileless and teachable.  That might be why we enjoy being around little children! They have a sweetness, an innocence, a wonder and curiosity about them. They are moldable and pliable.
Pride makes us stiff. Humility helps us to be flexible and elastic, like Gumby.

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One Response to “Gumby”

  1. Wanda Says:

    Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break…I learned this from a missionary in Guatemala. Then she would laugh and say but they might get stretched:>)

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