One of the many things that tries to stand in our way when we are believers is our constant judgment of ourselves. There's a word that comes into our mind full force, one that is always there and used pretty much by everyone, saint and sinner alike, that really likes to play with our expectations of others but more importantly ourselves.
It's the six letter word: S H O U L D.
Because we're a Christian we should act this way and we shouldn't act that way.
Because we're a Christian we should do this and we shouldn't do that.
Because I'm a follower of Christ I should talk like this and I should't talk like that.
Because I'm a believer I should have more faith and I shouldn't have so much doubt.
Because I'm God's child I should know the right things to say and do and shouldn't say and do the wrong things.
Woulda shoulda coulda I say.
See, the crazy thing is about our bipolar personalities - Follower of Christ and sinner all in the same package - is that we know in our heads the gospel. Christ did it all because I could do nothing. That's basically the gist of the matter.
Christ does all because I can do nothing on my own.
I can't act the right way on my own. I can't say the right thing on my own. I can't think the right thing on my own.
But yet, even though our minds know this, our hearts still try to convince us otherwise. Or maybe it's in reverse? Our hearts know, but our minds, those wonderfully logical scientific minds are the ones who taunt us.
It's like we expect that in some magically sci-fi sort of way we immediately stop being the people who don't do what they should and do keep doing what they shouldn't.
Give me a break! Give yourself a break, would ya?
Every time you hear yourself say or think about yourself any form of the word should, pinch yourself and then take yourself by the shoulders and get in your face and say, "why on earth do I think I should do something that I am not equipped to do on my own? Who do you think you are anyway? God?!"
You are clean now. Washed clean in his eyes. Yes, the sinful self is still there doing the sinful stuff you will continue to do, but the punishment for those actions has now been paid. You are clean. Spotless. Whole.
Now the fun starts. Now the tweaking starts. Now the real you gets to come out. Now the hidden gem that God designed, who would be named your name gets to be tweaked and polished and sanded and buffed and spit-shined and made into who you were meant to be all along.
Should you stop swearing? It'd be nice. Can you on your own? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
Should you stop gossiping? Most definitely? Can you on your own? NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
Should you stop worrying? Absolutely! Can you do it on your own? You can try, you have a thousand times before. How'd that work out?
Should you stop calling yourself dumb or fat or lazy or selfish or an idiot? It maybe a good idea but I doubt that will stop cold turkey. You can try, but until you immerse yourself in what God calls you and believe what He says about you rather than what a sinner says, you'll still keep degrading yourself.
That goes for your expectations of others, too.
Our President should do this.
The church should do that.
A good parent should do this.
A good leader should do that.
Should, should, should.
No one can be or do anything we expect them to be or do without God giving the ability to be or do.
So why on earth do we put so much pressure on ourselves and others to be or do what is impossible for humans to do on their own?
Give up? Here are a few of my guesses.
Because we don't want to ask God to do it. Because we know God won't do it the way we think it should be done. Because we want to use a stick and beat someone on the head to change and God's ways are much less forceful and a lot less violent. (Insert grin here).
Because if we ask God to do what we can't do than that makes us vulnerable.
And being vulnerable is scary.
Being vulnerable and letting go of control instead of on the should train to nowhere is very, very scary.
But when we let go and let God mind the should list it frees up a lot of our time to just breathe and enjoy the blessings He's pouring on us so lavishly.
Yea, a lot should be done to make countries stronger, families stronger, children stronger. But let God take care of the shoulds. You would if you could, I know, but you can't so why bother trying? Pointing out the shoulds to other should pointers is not going to do anything except create a lot more finger pointing.
Just hang out and be the child of God you are. Children don't worry about what their parents worry about. They just play and sleep when they're tired, eat when they're hungry. They leave the worrying to their parents.
And they run.
We could learn a lot from them.