I was talking with someone recently about the “shoulds” and “ought to’s” of life. We were kind of arguing about the place of these in our lives.
I mean, we SHOULD:
Keep the house clean
Tend to the sick
Feed the hungry
Clothe the naked
Have a devotional time
Go to church
Get up early
Read our Bible
Do the laundry
Be patient with the children
Make time for friends, even the annoying ones (I don’t have any annoying ones, of course.)
Give to charity
Eat our broccoli (Never going to happen.)
Have a bedtime routine
We SHOULD, right? These are things we are SUPPOSED to do.
I get frustrated with a life full of shoulds and this is what I was talking to my friend about. Okay, he’s my therapist. But anyway…this is what I was talking to my therapist about.
He said this crazy thing to me: “Stop saying should. Stop doing. Just. Stop. Learn to be still in God.”
I didn’t even know what that meant.
I don’t even know what that means.
But okay, fine, Therapist. I’ll try it. And this was probably three months ago.
And so, I did. I’m not doing shoulds anymore. I’m just looking for Him in the every day. In the counting of the joys, in the being thankful, in the music that plays around my house all the time, in the books I’m reading (Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen, in particular), in the moments of sheer joy with the kiddos as we go about our routine.
I sing these words, “I let go, empty my soul…” over and over all day long.
And suddenly…I’m not saying should to myself. But I am WANTING to do good things. I want to love well because I am so loved. I want to feed the hungry and serve the poor because I have been given so many good gifts. I want to spend time with others because I am full. I am better now. I get better with each passing day. And I’m not a better person, no, it’s not that. I’m just better. I have a sense of well being that I am unaccustomed to.
And it came when I recognized how truly poor I am.
And when I can see that clearly and see the redemption I’ve been given…I rejoice and live life fully.
She who has been forgiven much, loves much. That’s poor in spirit. When you can clearly see the state of your soul without Jesus and without the work of the cross. And when you can finally say that all your should-ing and all your doing and all your striving and struggling towards purification are like filthy rags…when you can see that our redemption comes from the cross and only the cross and it has nothing to do with how we behave or what we do, that’s when you are poor in spirit.
Jesus died for all of our sins. Past, present and future. He died for them when we were sorry and when we weren’t. He died for our pain and the sins committed against us. We can’t earn what He gave. We can only receive.
I’ve been forgiven much. I am poor in spirit.
And so I think about this old song we sang at Hope and the words were: “It’s the overflow of a forgiven soul…” and I realize that my therapist is right. We stop doing shoulds and we start dwelling at the foot of the cross and all of those good things just flow out of our hearts and into our lives. You can’t stay the same when you sit at His feet.
All the shoulds just disappear and instead is just an avalanche of love and service because we see with naked eyes what He has done for us.