A list of shoulds:
I should read my bible more.
I should read at least one book per month.
I should get up earlier more often to have devotional time.
I should exercise more often.
I should, like, actually lose the rest of my baby weight.
I should eat cleaner.
I should be more generous.
I should be more organized.
I should steward my time and talents better.
I should be better about blogging.
I should take a writing class.
I should make the girls eat more vegetables.
I should stop watching tv.
I should have the girls do more independent play time.
I should stop getting on social media.
I should really floss more.
I should be better about calling my family.
I should host more dinners.
I should serve more at church.
I should be more selfless.
I should not have said that.
I should be more patient.
I should cook more.
I should budget our finances better.
I should be better at time management.
I should go to bed earlier.
I should stop procrastinating.
I should clean my bathrooms more.
The list goes on….
That awkward moment when you realize you’ve been shoulding all over yourself. It starts so easily… a couple “shoulds” here and there… and before you know it your mind is overtaken by a laundry list of self-imposed expectations. None of which you can ever meet, at least not all at once, and when the expectations are not met you slowly begin to feel like you’ve failed miserably.
And so the insecurities begin to creep in. These insecurities can often lead to comparison, assuming everyone else is somehow succeeding at all of these things.
I’m not saying it is bad to have goals or things you are working on. But I do think a little reflection on what is driving it is sometimes necessary. Is it driven by fear? By not feeling like you’re enough or doing enough? By a need to earn acceptance & approval? I think sometime’s we have to do a little pre-emptive heart surgery and take time to pray & meditate.
So that’s what I did today. I went alone to my favorite spot by the lake, feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin. Spending time alone with God not because I “should” but because I truly desired to just rest with my Jesus. I brought along my bible and a book, in case I wanted to read. But I also just allowed myself to soak in His presence. Without pressure or expectation to read my bible. Even without pressure to pray or worship, but truly there just to rest with Him. To just be.
And He met me there and poured out so much love to me in that moment, revealing to me how proud He is of me. Not because I’ve earned it or proven my worth or somehow impressed Him. But because I am His daughter. He sees so much beauty and worth and value in me. Even when I don’t always see it in myself.
I think at their root our “shoulds” can stem from judgment and even shame. Judgment that we are not doing the “right” things, not doing our best, not living how we “should.” And we are so often our harshest critics. And then shame. Shame about our failures, our inadequacies, areas we feel we’re not measuring up.
But I believe we can look to Him. We can lay aside our judgements, and invite His love into our shame. Bringing His light into our darkest parts, into our areas of deepest shame — and allow Him to heal us from the inside out.
“I sought the Lord and He delivered me; He delivered me from all of my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”
Praying for someone, somewhere, who might need this reminder today: Look to Him and He will deliver you from your fears and take away your shame.
You are radiant. You are loved. You are enough.