I had hoped to rejoin the #fmfparty chat last night after a months-long absence, but it wasn’t in the cards. These days I’m doing good to be somewhat coherent past 6:30 p.m. All I could do was peek in an say “hello” before becoming one with the couch.
But I wanted to get back in the flash-writing habit.
So, linking up with Kate and away we…
In the movie Finding Neverland, Johnny Depp as J.M. Barrie tells the Lleweln-Davies family that “just” is a very ugly word, destroying the imagination.
I submit to you that “should” is equally ugly, if not more so.
Should do this. Should do that. Shouldn’t feel this. Shouldn’t think that.
We live in a world in which law and obligation are both necessary. Given our inherently selfish and sinful natures, we need boundaries. We need to know that it’s not okay to do whatever we want, whenever we want. Parents teach their children not to hit each other, to share toys, to clear the table. A sense of right and wrong, of duty and compassion, is important.
But all that can get twisted. Law and obligation become the focus, drowning out grace and joy. The “should” eclipses the “get to,” the “privileged to” and the “want to.” (For not every “want to” is bad). The spine curves under such a burden. The mind fills with long lists of resentment. The heart beats with bitterness.
Worst is the sense of guilt. The knowing that, no matter how hard one tries, there’s always another “should.” Another thing undone. Unsaid. Imperfect. The soul trembles, fearing to turn around and find that God Himself is the source of the guilt, the condemnation. So onward. Forward. Hoping to outrun, outperform.
A world made of “should” is an ugly one indeed and not at all what God intended. The law and the obligation are based in love, not striving. We are to serve and do and go out of affection for God, an affection that spills over onto others. We can’t be all things to all people at all times and do everything. It’s impossible. The task is only that which is in front of us, right now, in this moment.
Let us learn to replace “should” with “will” or “will not,” as appropriate. Let us learn to be people of the “yes” and the “no.” Simple. Straightforward. Unclouded. Unhindered.