We live a lot of our lives in the “land of should”. Or at least I have.
What do I mean?
What should a single person do with their life? What should my career look like at this age? How should I be interesting in order to catch a man? (totally how I thought!)
And then… what should dating look like? What should I be feeling during engagement? What should our wedding night look like? What should our first year of marriage look like?
It’s exhausting. And you end up chasing an illusive expectation of ‘should’ that doesn’t exist. The barometer, more often than not, ends up being someone else’s life snapshot or their opinion.
Troy and I are six months away from becoming parents. Crazy and amazing, hey?! We’re excited to discover whether it’s a boy or girl, watch their personality unfold, and help them become what God gave them to us to become. But you can guarantee, when we have another (God willing!), their personality will be so different, that I know it’ll bring new parenting challenges and joys and we’ll have to go about it differently; because no one person is the same as another.
So why would we think God is any different in the way He fathers us? I can’t frame my life expectations based on what happened to someone else. I have to know my God personally. I have to follow His Word. What is He saying to me through this season? That question will likely beckon a different answer for each of us; as it should.
The letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia is all about liberty of the gospel and for them to stop trying to earn their salvation through works and effort. Sacrifice. Circumcision. As though the work of Christ was incomplete. “Should’s” if you will.
Galatians 5:1 says, “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Freedom wasn’t so that I can reach my ideals, my expectations, my ‘shoulds’. It was for freedom. In Him.
Paul was emphasizing that the work of Christ on the cross is complete. And our job is to stand and submit to that work. It is meant to be liberating, not obligating.
In the Matthew Henry commentary, he writes on this text:
“It is therefore our duty to stand fast in this liberty, constantly and faithfully to adhere to the gospel and to the liberty of it, and not to suffer ourselves, upon any consideration, to be again entangled in the yoke of bondage, nor persuaded to return back to the law of Moses.”
What would it look like if we all walked so closely with the Lord that we could hear His voice for our life and seasons, and our barometer of whether we were on target with ‘should’ was His Word? That we could truly walk in liberty, and not these illusive expectations we place on ourselves?
I want to die to my idea of should… to what standards I have set for myself based on duty, comparison, and expectations…Die to my expectations and entitlements from the Lord, in each season, so that He can breathe what He wants….Die to what my house ‘should’ look like according to the people I follow on Instagram (and my expectations!)… to my expectations of what marriage should look like, even though there’s only one Troy and I, and with Christ at the centre, we can’t go wrong…Die even to what I expect I’ll be like as a mother, because I have no idea, and God’s grace is sufficient for me, in that moment, in that season. I can’t anticipate what ‘should’ should look like.
‘Should’ defeats liberty. Creativity. Life.
How do you need to ‘die to should’?
We all place unrealistic expectations on ourselves, in some way or another. It’s tiring isn’t it? Living under the dome of should is counterproductive to growth. Instead, let our barometer be what God speaks to us in His Word, and how He leads and Fathers us from there.