A Case of the Shoulds

For the last month or so I have really been convicted in the area of my motives for doing things and the expectations that I place on others. Being a pastor’s wife, there are a lot of social pressures and unwritten rules of what I should be doing. Honestly, we have a very sweet church and no one has ever really come up to me and said, “Are you doing this, because you know it’s your job.” Mostly, the pressures are put on me from yours truly. Many of the unwritten rules were written by me in my head. But I still feel them.

I was talking with a friend and letting out all of my worries, and she said, “Do you know how many times you have said ‘should’ in the last 3 minutes. . . about 10!” Wow, I had no idea why I had been so anxious, but that explained a lot.

There are a lot of expectations that we put on ourselves and others. We put expectation on our spouses, on our kids, and our friends. No one really measures up, right? As moms, we have the expectation that our kids are going to do everything we say, make excellent grades, be 100% obedient and make all the right choices. Our spouses will remember to get us flowers before coming home when we’ve had a bad day, always pick the restaurant that we are secretly thinking in our mind and they will listen intently to all of our frustrations of the day. Our friends will remember important days to us, never betray our trust, and always be there when we need them to be.

Just listing out all of these expectations and shoulds makes me anxious. In Jennifer Kennedy Dean’s book, Life Unhindered!, she speaks of Abraham and when the Lord told him he would have a son in his old age.

Genesis 15:4-5 (New International Version)

4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

What “should be” happening is that Abraham should be retiring at the ripe old age of 100, but God said he wanted him to have a son and be the Father of many nations. Jennifer Kennedy Dean points out that Abraham “stopped letting his own sense of what should be happening hinder him in his journey of faith.” So often I allow my expectations of what I should be doing and what others should be doing dominate my faith. I say to Him, “I am sorry Lord, this is the way things should be going. I don’t have faith to see it any other way. If I let things go your way, my kids might not end up perfect, I might miss something that I am supposed to do as a pastor’s wife and my husband might not perform to my expectations.” This is ludicrous, right? So often this is what plays out in my life. I miss out on what the Lord has in store for me because I am so busy managing my list of shoulds for myself and everyone else.

The Lord might surprise me and bless me with something better than what was on my list of shoulds. The book, Life Undhindered!, also states that “when we are engaged in fixing people and managing events, it takes all of our energy. We lack the freedom to live courageously and passionately, engaging our culture and displaying Christ to the world.” My prayer is that I will tear up my list of what should be happening, destroy my mental image of the perfect scenario and allow Christ the freedom to move in my heart and life the way He thinks it should be.

4 Responses to A Case of the Shoulds
  1. Deb
    October 18, 2010 | 10:11 am

    So true Desiree, Thanks for a great reminder!!

  2. Siobhan
    October 18, 2010 | 10:50 pm

    O i SO have a case of the mustaboratries that’s what i call it.
    I must do this and i should be doing this at this time of my life…….
    O i really do need to stop wow

  3. Tim Garcia
    October 19, 2010 | 10:19 am

    The “shoulds” have tripped me up before, too! 🙂

  4. Marcia
    October 19, 2010 | 12:13 pm

    Right on!