Moving Past the Shadow of Should

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I’m going to depart from my usual tone today. I wrote this a couple months back as I talked with a student who felt the weight of the things she should be doing. I think the concept is universally true, both in our relationship with God and in our leadership.

Have you ever thought about the oppressiveness of the word should?

I know I should have a quiet time, I just don’t.

I know I should be sharing my faith, I just don’t.

I know I should memorize scripture, I just don’t.

I know I should read the Bible, I just don’t.

Should has an uncanny ability to hang over us like a dark cloud. We should keep our room clean. We should do the dishes. We should put our laundry in the hamper. We should do a lot of things. 

In reality, the word “should” only reveals something we feel guilty for not doing. No one says they should play more video games. They play enough. No one says they should eat more junk food.

Should is a trigger for guilt. When we feel like we should do something, what we are saying is we think our lives would be better, but do we really believe it?

Should reveals a misplaced priority. It allows us to feel good about not doing something. We don’t do it, but we know we should. It’s the thought that counts, right? Even if the thought never moves to action?

After my third helping of cobbler and ice cream, I know I shouldn’t have eaten that much, so it’s okay.

Should is actually guilt wearing a mask. We only say we should do things for which we feel guilty for not doing. Some things are meant for our good, but we still run away. Some things will actually make our life better, yet we still don’t put forth the effort or energy.

The problem with should is it leads to regret. And regret leads to more guilt. And more guilt hides itself as should, and the cycle repeats.

But we are meant to have victory from the Shadow of Should. 

I should have a quiet time. Wrong. I’m free from the guilt of having or not having a quiet time. I’m free from the shackles of my faith being tied to what ritual I have. 

But I want to have a quiet time. I want to have time with God each day that connects me to Him. I want my life to be changed by setting my mind on things above at the beginning of my day. I want God to open my eyes, to soften my heart, to remind me of His presence before I do anything else. 

Should is crushed by desire. When my desire outweighs my should, the supernatural is unleashed.

When we desire to read God’s word more than we feel we should, His word comes alive.

Spirituality based on obligations eventually gets choked out by the oppressive strength of should. But when our desire to know God and to know Him more grows, our passion for Him crushes the should in our lives.

Relationships based on should are short term. Relationships built on desire endure. Ask God to give you a desire for Him today.

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