Friday, March 27, 2009

Laying Down the Shoulds

    When I accepted His invitation for salvation I was immediately given a mandatory Christian “to do” list.   Being a striver it was easy to get right in the thick of it, living to fulfill the requirements, until He showed me a different way.

     Sometimes the old stuff creeps back in to taunt me.    Before I know it my mind is captured in a battle.  Why am I not doing what I should be doing?  I feel like a bad little girl who ought to know better.  

     I haven’t journaled in over a week.   I’ve not had a “quiet time”.  I’ve not even prayed much.  I’ve just not had many words.  Maybe it’s part of grief, maybe it’s exhaustion from not sleeping well, I don’t know.  Regardless something wants to tell me I’ve blown it.  I should feel guilty. I wondered what Jesus would say.  The dialogue began.

      “Jesus, I know you are not unhappy with me because you don’t base your love on my performance.   But sometimes it still feels like I’ve disappointed you with my lack of activity.”

      “Jewel, It’s OK that you don’t come every day.”  “I know that you love me.”   “I don’t grade your love based on your performance.”  “I see into your heart.”  “I know what’s there.”

       “I know it’s the “shoulds”... "I should be doing more.”

       “Jewel I came and took away the shoulds because the shoulds just leave things empty.”  “They are not from the heart.” 

       “I just love you, Jewel, that’s all, because you are mine.”  “I know you love me.”  “I’m OK with you just being with me.”  “You don’t have to say anything.  You don’t even have to read about me.  It’s OK for you to just dwell here with me.”  “There’s nothing to prove.”  

        “Respond when I call.”  “I know you will.”  “Yes, sometimes the distractions capture your attention but that does not diminish your love for me.”   “Your life belongs to me, Jewel, I know that.”  “It’s a comfortable love.”

     “What is asked of me?”


     “Love the Lord your God with all your heart.”  “Live in love, Jewel.”  “Respond to love.”  

        It’s all such a far cry from where I started.   I could have put Martha to shame.  My life was lived on my own, working out all my salvation, trying to be a good girl for God.  But it was a yoke that shackled me.  I became a performance driven, “should” woman.  Life was about me living the requirements.

       In that place that he says “be still and know I am God, my efforts and striving, the shoulds, cease.  He becomes God.  He invites me into the places He desires me to be with Him.  He gives me a chance to respond to His invitation.  The shoulds are laid to rest.  

      I know it’s true.  He burns within my soul.  I always know when He is inviting me to pray for someone, my heart aches for them.  When He’s drawing me to His Word, it beckons me. When I need to journal or just sit, my body longs for it.  

       In His gentleness He reminds me that it is up to Him in me.  He asks that I listen and follow where He invites me to be.  

      “Don’t live in the shoulds, Jewel.”  “I am not in the shoulds”.  “That is the law.”  “I abolished the law.”  “You are free to live in Me.”  “I will do all through you.”  “I am the life in you.”  “I am the invitation.”  “Respond to My invitation.”  “Don’t do unless I invite you to do.” “You will know.” “When I give you rest, rest, dear one.”  “It’s my gift to you.” “You have nothing to prove.”  “I know you love Me.” 

      Being still means entering rest.  Not just rest from a busy life, but rest from the striving and shoulds.  In that place life becomes about Him in me.  He is the work.  I am His workmanship, not my own.   He is the life, He is the breath.     

     This complicated life I have lived is no longer what He asks of me.  It’s quite simple, really, lay the “shoulds” to rest for Jesus abolished them.    Love the Lord your God by responding to His love.


     Today as I once again lay my shoulds down I breathe in the very breath of God while enfolded in His embrace. He knows how much I love Him for He has read my heart.

©copyrighted:  2009  Julie L. Todd


Angie said... Reply to comment

Julie---I wish I'd read this weeks ago....of course that means you would have endured your pain way before that.

I think we're have captured the feelings I have struggled with and battled against my own self...beaten myself up about all the things I SHOULD be doing...and yet, my mind/heart won't let me. I have been in a foggy bog. Like a couple of days last week when it was so foggy I couldn't see much ahead of me while driving. "Slow going". That's how it's been. But you know what? I got there. Through HIS love-grace and mercy.

I love the words you shared today. THEY spoke what my heart couldn't even understand about my own self.

I love you dearly! Miss you too!

Cheri Bunch said... Reply to comment

Hey Julie,
I love a quote by Bob Sorge. He says that the love isn't disappointed IN us when we miss time with Him, He is disappointed FOR us.

Oh, how He loves you and me! So beautiful the way He loves us through.

"The shoulds" have been a trap for me at times. They have a haunting voice that I really don't like at all. It sounds so accusing to me! Praise the Lord for His wonderful and bountiful grace!

Thanks for writing!


ktwalden said... Reply to comment

I've had guilt over the "shoulds", too. "The shoulds are laid to rest." I love that thought! You have touched my heart with your words today...

LisaShaw said... Reply to comment

Your words speak to many of us Julie. Your transparency and truth is always a blessing. I think we've all been there with the "shoulds".

Thank you for having the heart for GOD that you do. Remain steadfast in Him and may all your time with Him find you refresed and blessed always.

Kimberly said... Reply to comment

Beautifully put, Julie. I am learning continually to lay down my "shoulds". They can be so easy to pick back up.

I love your conversations with the Lord. They are tender and so beautiful. Thank you for sharing them.

Indeed, you are the first person I had ever heard talk about "being" instead of "doing", and that has had such a big impact on my life. Thank you.

Love and prayers,

Amy said... Reply to comment

What TRUTH you have written! Earlier this week I wrote about how I used to be "chained to performance" and how I feel such freedom now.

It's so awesome to walk FREELY in Christ, not having to "DO" anything to experience His LOVE!

Julie, you are right where the Lord wants you.

Praying for you everyday!

Tea With Tiffany said... Reply to comment

After I gave a MOPS talk two weeks ago, I sat through the small group discussion time with moms. It was interesting and encouraging to know my talk motivated great conversation. Thank you, God.

A mentor mom, in her late 60s or early 70s, lovingly corrected a younger mome who was feeling guilty. This young mom kept saying she should_________(fill in the blank). This older mentor smiled and in a sweet but firm voice said,

"Don't should on yourself."

Wow, what a catchy phrase! I hope to continue to say and remember...

Should is the worst S word, isn't it?


Love you,

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

This one was hard for me to read. In a good way. You bless, even through your grief, Julie.

Thinking of you. xxxooo

Kathy S. said... Reply to comment

Julie, I too have been performance driven...It is hard to find the balance. I am afraid that, being "prone to wander" if I am too @ rest I will... wander (and I know how much it hurts).

There is the delicate balance between "working out your salvation w/ fear and trembling" and "it is Him who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose"

I have seen too many "just trusting the Lord" while their families fall apart due to what to me looks like "apathy"...

I appreciate your post. It is a reminder to crucify guilt, and rest in His love, but be aware of the frailty of our flesh nature.

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Pressing on together.

Mrs.Naz@BecomingMe said... Reply to comment I nodded my head throughout reading this....your heart is so beautiful and tender.

Lelia Chealey said... Reply to comment

Take your time Julie and write when God leads you to. Savor every memory of your Dad that invades your thoughts and heart.
I'm hurting for you.

Shanda said... Reply to comment

I loved seeing you at my blog! I pray for you my friend. I always hoped that while I was living in your neck of the woods I would be able to slip down and visit you. Even though we've never met I'm saddened that I'm so far away now. I love your heart and am so thankful that I can go with you through your journey through your blog. I'm definitely knee deep in the "shoulds" now that I'm back home and your post has been encouraging to me. Your gift of writing is a true blessing!

Laura said... Reply to comment

Lay down those shoulds, dear one. He just wants to hold you for a while. I'm still praying for your tender heart.

luv you,

Sharon said... Reply to comment

Great Post my friend! Reaching in and touching my heart! Just gotta Lay down those Shoulds.
A very thought provoking post, Amen!
Have a beautiful & blessed day :) said... Reply to comment

Wandered over from Meredith's post. Thanks for your sharing that.

Carmen Gamble said... Reply to comment

So true, eh?! I wonder why we always fall back into thinking that way? God is so much more than Who we sometimes seem to think He is!

Lighthouse Prayer Line said... Reply to comment

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Andrea said... Reply to comment

Julie, I have enjoyed my visit to your blog. Thank you for your testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ. I noticed you're from Ellijay. I'm originally from Gainesville, but live in Alabama now. (Actually, my husband pastored a church in Jasper many years ago.) It's always nice to find another person from Georgia, especially a sister-in-Christ. May God abundantly bless you for your ministry and love for Him.


Angie said... Reply to comment

Just checkin in on you dear sister.

Hope all is well...I know you need a bit of a break from writing from time to time. I know I did. I felt my heart/mind needed to breathe.

Praying for you.

Crown of Beauty said... Reply to comment

What a relief, what a release, to read this post, Julie. I know how that feels, to be imprisoned by the ought tos... but how true it is, Jesus did not come to imprison us but to set us free. How Satan loves to steal our joy by strapping us down with that long list..

Now we know better. Let's enjoy our freedom!

Elizabeth Channel said... Reply to comment

This is so timely for me...I still think I need to do it all, and then I am plagued with guilt because I cannot. I needed to hear this today. Thank you.

Miss G said... Reply to comment

Thank you, Julie. I deal with the shoulds a lot. This is a very good post to think on. Kelly

Cyndi said... Reply to comment

This is awesome!! Almost exactly the same thing that God showed me 15 years ago. The law/shoulds are abolished by the cross, and is now written on our hearts by the hand of the Living God!

For true freedom in Christ,
God Nuggets Blog