From my 2011 Journal. There are certain words, facial expressions, and people’s attitudes that shut me down. One of them is “You should or shouldn’t . . .” My instant response is to go on the defense: “Why should I?” or “Why shouldn’t I?” That self-protective defiant attitude covers timidity to be who I was created to be.
I may refuse to listen to your words because they heap shame on me, but I find it’s an uphill battle to sever the ties with them. I am determined to climb this mountain even if I have to do it alone, but the weariness of the battle gets to me.
Jesus says, “Level ground would have been easier, but mountain climbing shows what you’re made of and tests your endurance and strengthens your muscles and heart. Not a bad thing. Keep climbing!” And eventually I am able to see your words for what they are—your belief system, not mine.
I’m reading Unlocking Your Family Patterns by Cloud, Townsend, Carter, and Henslin. I identify with the chapter “Learning to Achieve Adulthood.” The premise is that as children, we always feel “one-down” to adults. Growing up means coming to the place in life where we feel “equal” or “even.” My own shoulds and shaming words or posture are my attempt to feel “one-up.”
Whether your words or mine, I can turn those “shoulds” to “coulds.”
- I should be praying more = I could be praying more.
- I should be more available = I could be more available.
- I should clean my house today = I could clean house today (or not!).
I’m ready to get rid of these echoes in my mind and heart. No longer will I hide my true self to protect me from your words or deeds. I can graciously and lovingly place them back on you and stand firm in what God created me to be—free of shame and life-sucking rules.
What shame messages are you battling to erase?
“Why should I? You aren’t the boss of me.” I remember thinking those words very clearly. As an adult, I’ve actually used them — before I recognized that I don’t have to tie into other people’s “shoulds.” It was very freeing to realize I only had to do and be what the Lord wanted me to do and be.