Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I don't know about you, but I feel surrounded by a chorus of should.  Everywhere we turn, there is another voice whispering to us about how things should be, how we should be acting, how much money we should be making, or what leading an effective life should look like.

I should be able to meal plan an for an entire week's worth of dinners like she does.   Feeding my kids PB&J four times a week is probably not considered "balanced."

Maybe I should actually make the kids' birthday cakes from scratch this year instead of ordering one from Walmart.  Is it true they hire endangered gorillas and only pay them twenty-five cents an hour to make the birthday cakes and donuts?

Everyone seems to be "going green" with their cleaning products now.  Maybe I should do that.  Maybe I should actually start cleaning my house.  Do I even own Windex?

I really should limit my kids' screen time.  In fact, they should have none at all.  I'm pretty sure the smarty-pants people at the American Pediatrics Brigade (or whatever the heck they're called) say that any kid who is exposed to more than 30 seconds of Cailou immediately develops a twitch in their left eyebrow.  Any video game use leads to unexpected rants in Swedish.  Yup, I should throw the TV and Wii out the window.  I definitely don't want twitchy Swedes for kids.

The shoulds can be suffocating.  I know I'm making light of it here, but I think it is especially important to think about how our idea of Should compares to God's idea of Should.

If we think back to the garden in the first chapters of Genesis, we get a glimpse of what should have been.  Interaction and relationship with God.  Freedom.  Trust.  No sniping or passive aggressive comments on Facebook about how "somebody" really should learn to mind their own business or be a better parent.  No crushing feelings of inadequacy when the glow stick craft you attempted to re-create from that board on Pinterest turned out to be an epic failure and now your kitchen floor looks like a murder scene from CSI under a black light.

Let's imagine just for a moment that SHOULD doesn't exist.  What would happen if we could close our eyes, click our heels, and suddenly all the expectations of the men and women around us were erased and replaced by the calling of our Lord?  How would we live our lives differently?  Can you feel the weight lifting off your shoulders?

Harvestfest Promo from Elmbrook Church on Vimeo.

As many of you know, I go right from my day job of being a full-time mama of three boys to work as a server at a self-deemed "foodie" restaurant.  The other night, despite the fact that I'm still very new at this particular establishment, I was told that I would be waiting on the owner of the company.....and his Bible study group.  I freaked out a little because I knew that they were very particular and I wanted everything to be PERFECT.  I knew how this table should go, how every step had to be done with precision for it to be pulled off successfully. 

And I messed it up.  I got so worked up about the should that I forgot to be myself, to relax, and to trust that I knew what I was doing.  I let my fear cripple me and I made a mistake at this table that left me mortified and on the edge of tears.  Struggling to hold it together, I approached the owner at the end of the meal and sincerely apologized for my mistake and claimed full responsibility for their meal not proceeding as it should have.

He turned to me with a look of confusion and asked, "What mistake?"

You guys.  I completely forgot that the owner of my restaurant is a Christ-follower and that the whole table was filled with his Bible study group.  My mistake really wasn't that big of a deal, but I turned it into an epic failure, something that they certainly couldn't forgive me for.  

We do this in motherhood.  We do this in our marriages.  We do this in our friendships, our family relationships, our jobs, and every other realm of our life. 

So I'm working on it.  I'm working on letting go of the "shoulds" that surround me and instead I am learning to re-imagine the roles to which God has called me.

He has called me to be a mother. 
He has called me to be a wife.
He has called me to serve and encourage women.
He has called me to be a writer and story-teller.

Instead of seeking out my mistakes and wallowing in the Should, I want to work more and more at re-imagining what my calling should look like and spend more time smiling at my children as they play and welcoming them as they run into my arms. 

But right now....I really should start dinner or it's PB& J again! 

Or perhaps twelve loaves of zucchini bread......

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