Letting Go Of The Shoulds
Does anyone else besides me have trouble letting go of the "shoulds" in life? By this, I mean letting go of guilt over things we are doing rather than things we think we "should" be doing. As in...I should be sweeping the floor instead of reading this book. Or....I should be taking a walk instead of eating a cookie. And my personal favorite....I should be writing a chapter of my book I keep intending to finish instead of working on the blog. I could keep going, you know. There are lots of "shoulds" in my life. How about yours? Usually my list of shoulds have something to do with my doing something that I actually enjoy and that comes easily to me instead of doing something that is less interesting....or scary.....or hard.....or thought provoking....or boring....or....well, you get the picture.
Sometimes, I wonder where my list of "shoulds" comes from. Some of them come from society. As in, "to be healthy you should get 30 minutes of exercise daily." Hence, my guilt over that extra cookie I just ate. And over my lack of desire to exercise, even though I really do want to be healthy. (Sigh)
Sometimes, we get shoulds from advertisements. They may be subliminal, but they are there none the less. Like when you see the kid getting ready to cut his sister's hair with a smirk on his face and his Mom just smiles and grabs her dusting mop and within seconds the floor is immaculate and shiny. That dust mop just took care of everything didn't it? (No mention of disciplining the child by the way). Wouldn't it be great if we could just dust mop life's problems away? According to that commercial, that's what we should be doing. Who knew all it took was a dust mop?
Let's face it. We get "shoulds" from all over the place. Television, magazines, groups and organizations we belong to, our families, books. We read or observe or hear about something and suddenly we realize that is the thing we should be doing, or eating, or buying, or listening to, or participating in...
To be honest, I'm not entirely certain where I'm going with this post. But, it seems to be a topic that is on my mind today. Perhaps it is because I am debating some "shoulds" and trying to make up my mind about how to proceed. It sometimes feels like a tug of war within ourselves, doesn't it?
Not all "shoulds" are bad, of course. Some are there to protect us and keep us safe. We were taught as children that we should look both ways before crossing the street. If we don't, we can get run over. Likewise, we are told that we should wash our hands before eating. If we don't, we risk getting sick from germs. These are some pretty basic shoulds, of course, but you get the point, right? Some shoulds are important.
In Luke, Chapter 10, Jesus arrives at the home of Mary and Martha. He is made to feel quite at home by Martha, who worked busily in the kitchen. I'll bet Martha had a whole list of "shoulds" don't you? They didn't have those dust mops back in Biblical times, but I bet if they did, Martha would have had one! I picture her house as immaculate and her meals to be perfection. Martha thought she knew what her sister, Mary, should be doing. And that was helping her in the kitchen. Scriptures tell us that she said the following: (from The Message version)
"Master, don't you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tall her to lend me a hand."
Don't you just hate it when other people think they know what you should be doing? And don't you just hate it when you yourself are struggling to decide between doing something you think you should be doing and what you really want to be doing? Do you suppose that Mary had any of these feelings as she sat at the feet of Jesus instead of working in the kitchen? And, was Martha really happy cooking and being the perfect hostess? Or did she just think that this is what she should be doing while, secretly, she really wanted to be in there listening to Jesus herself? Here is how Jesus replied to Martha.
"Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it-it's the main course, and won't be taken from her."
Sometimes, when I read this scripture, I like to remove Martha's name and put in my own. "Debbie, dear Debbie, you're fussing far too much and getting worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential...."
It sounds to me like the only true should is the one where we sit at the feet of Jesus and listen.
What do you do about the "shoulds" of life?
Marilyn's Treats-Over The Moon
Marilyn's Treats-Over The Moon
I struggle with the "shoulds" quite often. It might even be harder in retirement to battle those "shoulds" since there are so many options now of how to spend my time. The Mary/Martha story is one of my favorites. I have always considered myself to be more of a Martha, as it's sometimes difficult to keep myself from projecting my "shoulds" onto others. Once again, Debbie, thank you for such a thought provoking Saturday post.
I put too many "shoulds" on myself. But I'm likely to abandon them! For maybe the past year, definitely the last six months, my job has become very stressful and often feels unbearable. So in order to decompress when I'm home, I abandon the should be doings and relax. I read devotionals, read verses from the Bible, write, and read for relaxation. I might putter in the yard or stare outside from the front porch and let my mind unwind. I don't very often feel guilty about letting things go anymore. I have wondered about how I'll be in retirement, so I'll work part time. As for the two sisters, I am a Mary! Interesting to note, my sister is positively a Martha!!
Thank you, Sharon. I struggle with the shoulds a lot. I'm trying to be more of a Mary. But, it's hard.
I'm trying to abandon a few shoulds myself, Karen. It's hard to do for me. I'm sorry your job has been stressful. I know how that feels. I am glad that you take time in the evenings to do what you need to restore your energy and to relax.
I don't struggle as much as I used to with the shoulds of life. Like right now I should be putting my groceries away but I am reading blogs. Life will go on. But I have been Martha more times in life than I would have liked.
I like your attitude, Victoria, and I'm trying to adopt not worrying about the shoulds more often! I've been a Martha way too many times!
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