Scrapping the Shoulds


Little people streamed into the lower elementary school, bunching up to giggle, chat, and await the morning’s first bell. Office staff bustled about, answering phones, greeting parents, trouble-shooting things I could only guess at.

Moms and dad alike ushered their children into the lobby: sporty mom with her toned legs and bright smile, fashionista mom with her cute skinny jeans, ballet flats, curled hair, and sparkly accessories, stylish dad holding backpacks and snow gear, coach-dad high-fiving the boys…

Teachers walked by briskly, attending to last-minute details, flashing big smiles to adoring pupils.

Waiting beside my six year old for the bell to ring, I sported a messy bun and zero make-up. I was one good cup of coffee short of being fully awake. Dragging. Un-enthused about charging into this day.

A thought weaved its way into consciousness:

I should be able to do this.

I should be able to get my 4 kids up on time, neatly dressed, well-fed, lunches and backpacks packed, homework done, encourage daughter to socialize so she eventually doesn’t need me to walk her in, be joyful and bubbly and social myself in here, and… and… and…

Truly. For a minute I believed it all. That I should be able to do it. And much more.

I should be able to do all those things that make me a good wife. A good mom. A good friend. A good daughter, sister, and writer.

A good Christian.



You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. –Ephesians 4:22-23

After running through this mental list of things I should be able to do, a question occurred to me.


Exactly who gets to decide what I should be able to do? Who sets that standard, and do I really need to live up to it?

I should be able to do this is a lie because it doesn’t come from God. His shoulds are the only ones with which I really need to be concerned.

Am I working toward imperfect progress in loving Him and loving others? Am I seeking to walk in the specific ways He’s asking me to do that?

Because I’m pretty sure there will be days that I can accomplish it while sporting a messy bun.

And there may (or may not) be a day when I walk into the lower elementary school fully caffeinated, with rockin’ boots, cute jeans, a printed infinity scarf over a stylish tee, make-up neatly done, hair flawlessly coiffed, a smile on my face, and sparkling conversation ready to burst forth from my lips.

But that day is not today, and I’m okay with that.

Because He knows my heart and the spirit He’s placed within me. He makes me new and tranforms my thoughts and draws me close to Him so I can draw others close too.

Even with zero make-up on.


What lie are you believing today?

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5 Responses to Scrapping the Shoulds
  1. Kimberly
    April 2, 2014 | 9:34 am

    He does know your heart and I love your heart 🙂 I am sporting a messy bun and no mascara today because I forgot it while I stressed over my impending test….that may result in a C. And that’s ok 🙂 sometimes failing forward is the whole point. To remind us that some days just breathing is all He wants for us. You are beautiful 🙂

    • Mandy
      April 2, 2014 | 9:20 pm

      Ah, amen! Thank you for making me smile! So grateful for you 🙂

  2. Laura Rath
    April 3, 2014 | 2:46 pm

    This is great Mandy! I think leaving the “shoulds” behind frees us from trying to measure up to someone else. 🙂

    • Mandy
      April 4, 2014 | 8:45 pm

      Thank you, Laura! I agree–let’s abandon the shoulds and that measuring stick 🙂

  3. Susie Klein
    April 5, 2014 | 10:10 pm

    The “should” word is a trigger for me to remind myself not to “should on myself.”
    Great post Mandy….seems like we are all so much harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else.