Remember three days ago when I posted about how I have uncommitment issues and couldn’t not post, even though I felt miserable? And then remember two days ago how I… hehe… didn’t post? Apparently I’m breaking that habit. Two days ago was a wonderful evening spent with Tyler, and by the time we had cleaned up the kitchen and the living room and went to walmart and worked on the budget, I was just climbing into bed when that thought hit…. Ugh. I forgot to blog. And you know what? I climbed into bed anyway. And I didn’t even feel unbearingly guilty about it. I must be growing. 😉
I’ve been thinking, over the last few days, about a blog post I read on Chatting at the Sky regarding obligation. It’s an older post, from about 2 ½ years ago, but hey, I’m late to the party, okay? You really should go read it. (I know, I know, you’re not a link-clicker. Not everyone can be a nerd like me and jump from one blog to the next through links. Understood.) Anyway, Emily’s post spoke to me because one of her sentences at the beginning stated, “How many harsh words have you spoken, not against injustice, but because you were frustrated over not living up to an expectation?” Ugh, what a punch in the gut. The day before I read this I had done just that. I’ll spare you all the gory details (And by that I mean, I wrote it all out and it looked far too ungrateful and whiny. So I deleted it.), but pretty much you can know that eventually, the “Should” in my life wears me down.
Anyway, this blog post was about obligation. About the fact that we fill our days with responsibilities we hate and say “This is what being a grown-up is.” But the Bible says that our lives are supposed to be about Jesus. And living an abundant life. The story of Mary and Martha comes to mind:
As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” –Luke 10:38-42 NIV
The thing about this passage is that Martha was doing what she should. She was making her home nice for Jesus. She’s making dinner for her Lord. Everything must be perfect. But while she was caught up in what she should do, she missed out on the most important thing of all—sitting at Jesus’s feet. I think one of the most powerful things about this story is that Martha wasn’t doing anything wrong. She was doing what every Good Housekeeping article would tell her to do, and Emily Post gives her an A+. But she had made all of the things she should do greater than the most important thing to do.
Enter us, particularly women (not that it doesn’t apply to men, too, but I’m about to use an example that applies to me. So… deal with it. 😉 ), in the Pinterest era. See, when our grandparents (or our parents, or our great grandparents, depending on your generation) DIY’d it was out of necessity. It was because the budget only went so far and there was a whole lot more ground to cover. It wasn’t cool or trendy, it was life. For example, you better believe that if they made your sweater into mittens it was because there were too many holes in the sweater for it to be passed on and your hands had grown too much that year to fit into last winter’s gloves. But now… now things are different. We DIY because we enjoy it, but also because it’s what’s in. I dare you to hang something creative-looking in your home and see how long it takes for someone to ask “did you make that?!” And then we have the mindset that we need to be embarrassed to admit that, “No… it’s from Hobby Lobby.” We are currently living in a culture that demands a lot of things we should do. For example, spend any amount of time on social media and you will hear that you should do the following things:
- Eat organic food
- Eat locally grown or sourced produce and meat
- Grow your own vegetables
- Follow this diet
- Follow this lifestyle, not diets
- Avoid sugar
- Avoid sugar substitutes
- Avoid dye
- Lose weight
- Work out
- Be comfortable with your body just the way it is
- Not get so comfortable with your body that other people feel uncomfortable with their bodies
- Formula feed
- Let your child cry it out
- Never let your child cry it out
- Exercise grace instead of discipline with your child
- Use discipline with your child so they grow up to be respectable adults
- Public school your child because you’re not a trained teacher
- Homeschool your child so that they don’t give in to peer pressure
- Be a stay-at-home mom
- Be a working mom
- Have kids
- Don’t have too many kids
- Let your child be his own person
- Don’t let your child be too weird
- Get vaccinated
- Don’t get vaccinated
- Home-cook all of your meals
- Make sure your house looks perfect
- Hand-make your gifts
- Hand-sew your clothes
- Don’t waste your talents, find a career that will make the most of the gifts you have
- Don’t be so focused on your career you miss out on the rest of your life
…..are you tired yet? I am. And I could think of more, those are just the things that popped into my head first. DISCLAIMER: I’m not saying that ANY of those things are wrong. In fact, they can be good. They all have valid points. But, spoiler alert, they’re not the most important. Really. They’re not. And you really cannot do all of the things on that list. First of all, because they haven’t yet figured out a way to add more hours to a day. Second of all, because half of the things contradict each other! I’m not trying to start an argument about which of these things is “most right” or “most important”. Because, when it comes down to it, “few things are needed—or indeed only one.”
I was blessed with the kind of attitude (umm, we’re gonna call it a blessing) where these kind of ‘should’ things don’t bother me. I can see this stuff on Pinterest and Facebook all day and it’s not gonna have an effect on me. I may look into it more, I may become interested, but I’m not going to be guilt-laden or discouraged. But some people who are very dear to me struggle with this on a daily basis and even have had to go through social media fasts simply because it makes them too depressed.
Should is a huge joy-blocker. It gets in the way of our relationship with Jesus. Don’t spend all of your time fretting over what you should do. Do the most important thing—sit at Jesus’s feet. Go where He leads you to go, say what He leads you to say, do what He leads you to do. And then, if you want to do the extras, then do them! Sometimes some of the things on the above list are part of having an abundant life. But the secret is realizing what the source of an abundant life is. Jesus!
What should do you need to let go of today so that you can sit at Jesus’s feet?
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This post is part of the series 31 Days of Finding Joy. Interested? Click here!