Do you "should" yourself to death?

You should study your Bible.

You should exercise.

You should go to church.

You should donate money to a charity.

You should go out with your friends.

You should volunteer more.

You should pray with your spouse.

You should join this committee.

You should spend more time with the kids.

Should. Should. Should. 

I feel like I should myself to death.

Does should bother you too?

Should makes me wonder how I can possibly add one more thing to my schedule. Should leaves me feeling that I am doing it wrong and that I am lacking. Should makes me think I am letting you, me, my family, my job, and my God down. Should feels like shackles, and I end up guilty, anxious, weighed down—stressed. Should steals my joy.

So lately, whenever I hear (or read) the word should, I take Yoda’s advice and tell myself, “Do or do not, there is no should.”

Every single decision we make is a choice. I either study my Bible or I don’t. I exercise or I don’t. I go to church or I don’t. I pray with my spouse or I don’t. I donate money or I don’t.

When I make a “good” choice, I don’t get arrogant. Instead, I realize it was a good work that God prepared in advance for me to do. When I don’t do the good works God prepared, choosing instead to be self-centered, I repent, and the blood of Jesus purifies me from all unrighteousness. Finally, I don’t should myself on the choices that are simply a matter of Christian freedom, where there isn’t a right or wrong answer. I make a decision and serve with joy.

Oh, also, we don’t should each other, because we know God has put his body together exactly the way he wanted it to be. We all have unique gifts and use them the way God has planned for us, not the way that others think we should. 

Getting rid of should is just one way to handle stress. Want more ideas? Watch these Your Time of Grace videos and hear what Pastor Jared has to say.

Linda Buxa is a writer, editor, and Bible study leader. She thinks that if you write the word should often enough, it starts to look funny.