Welcome, friends, for today's edition of Break the Tape. Essentially, our goal is to identify the lies that repeat themselves over and over again in our minds, break the tape that automatically begins plays when ever we feel we've fallen short, and learn a new song to sing in its place.
Meet Jennifer. You've seen her beautiful face 'round these parts before AND she's one of the SDG retreat speakers (just saying that perhaps you might want to come meet her in person). I've gotten to Skype with this gal and she is warm and genuine and funny. I love her heart and her personality and that she's a fellow kindred crazy marathoner!! And she tells it like it is...beautifully.
I should...Did it sound like one of these:
I should lose some weight. I shouldn't eat that brownie. I should read this book. Try this work out. Eat this super food. Pray more. Pray harder. Be better. Stronger. More resilient. More faithful.There are some good truths here. Prayer is never a bad idea. Loving ourselves enough to steward our bodies is sound stewardship. Learning to try new things, stretching our minds and hearts and boundaries can only bring wisdom and broaden our scope. This is to be encouraged.
But I can't help feeling, when I Should myself, that I am wrongly convicting myself of crimes, sentencing myself to guilt I do not need to carry. Should slams down on me every time I say or think it, the gavel of judgment from an imperfect jury of one; myself. It sounds of tasks neglected, ideas wasted, time squandered. Should says I am not enough and can only be enough by my own efforts. And that, my friends, is a straight up lie.
If we are new in Christ, and by golly I am, then I am enough. I am loved, right now, in my imperfection. The imperfect me weighs myself against the externals I see in others. Those who are skinnier, funnier, better writers, better mommies, better believers, better wives. The imperfect me forgets that in public everyone puts on the mask of the pulled-together. The imperfect me forgets that for every person I consider better than me, there are those elevating me. And we all think to ourselves, "if they only knew what a mess I am." That's where the shoulds do their worst.
Should attacks us at the pool, as we watch the lithe mommies, and we pull the towel over our midsection thinking, "I should lose weight." Should pounces at church, when the perfect looking family marches by in a perfectly groomed and matched line of angelic goodness, while we pray our kid gets his finger out of his nose. "I should do a better job with manners and hygiene," we tell ourselves. Should rears its head, for me as a writer, when I read the lyric prose of some of my favorite bloggers and think, "I really should quit this writer nonsense. I'm really not that good."
Should is a lie. It is shame and judgement and pain. It is bondage. And I'm done with that nonsense. If I can change should to need, and the statement is still true, and I have tenable, sustainable reasons, then I will pursue the idea. Maybe I could stand to lose some weight. Maybe my kids could take more pride in their personal grooming. Maybe I could seek some writing feedback. But if I just want to appear better than someone, proving my value, I'm forgetting my true worth. My true worth, really, has nothing to do with me, but with the One who made me.
And I need only rely on that.
Jennifer Luitwieler is the author of Run With Me: An Accidental Runner and the Power of Poo, released September 2011 with Civitas Press. She writes on crafts, sports and all manner of nonsense atjenniferluitwieler.com. A Pittsburgh transplant to Tulsa, OK, she homeschools 3 great kids and tolerates a confluence of soccer gear from her very cute husband. Find her on twitter at http://twitter.com/jenluit and on http://facebook.com/jenluitwieler But watch out, because she likes to talk. You might not get rid of her.
Linking with Emily for Imperfect Prose, Jennifer for God Bumps, and Shanda for On My Heart.