Should Do Better?

should2I was going to write a ‘Christian’ bucket list today.  There were lots of good ideas in it:

Use the following: ‘I’m sorry’.  ‘I don’t know’. ‘I was wrong’.

Be the Real person in your small group.

Read the Bible more and pray more.

Build a bunker for the rapture. (No biblical warrant but I think it would be fun).

I had more.  Some of them were Really Godly. You’d have been impressed, and hopefully, scared. But when I read the list through, I had to fight the urge to go back to bed.

First it was a reminder of all the stuff I don’t do.  And all the things that I’m not. Instead of pressing me onwards, I felt like I’d strapped a sack of rocks to my back.  I told myself,  ‘I can do this!’ But honestly, ‘I can’t’.  Which is one reason why I’m a Christian.

Whatever I came up with, it was just about me trying harder.  ‘I can’ sounds very inspiring.  But it’s often supported by ‘I should’ or ‘I must’.

‘Should’ is demotivating. It makes me focus on the wrong things.  I should read my Bible more. Why? Is it because I love Jesus and need His help?  Or is it because I feel ought to and it’ll ease my guilt for another day?

If it’s about assuaging guilt then my motivation is me and not Jesus. What’s more, all my little shoulds tend to eclipse the bigger ones.  ‘I ‘should’ have said ‘no’ to that third doughnut’ seems much more important than ‘I should have called my mum’. The easier, external shoulds get bigger and more important. The harder internal ones slide. Yet even the externals feel like far too much.

So on the one hand, shoulds make me feel rubbish.  But they also make me proud. When I fail at a should, I’m a terrible person and no-one can help me. When I succeed at a should, I’m the greatest. I don’t need any help. Either way, it’s all about me.

Thinking I can be good because of a list, is ridiculous.  And failing a should doesn’t make me a bad person: I already am. If I was good, I wouldn’t need Jesus. Or a stupid list.

 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through [my lists], Christ died for nothing!’ (Galatians 2:21)


7 thoughts on “Should Do Better?

  1. i also have alot of shoulds – i should be able to cope on my own – havent seen anyone for 2 days and its been a lonely nightmare. also i should have emotions other than anxiety (if that is anb emotion) i just really want to cry and get it all out but i can. i can only cry when chatting to friends on the phone and have been told by one christian friend that i do this because i only want sympathy

  2. “I told myself, ‘I can do this!’ But honestly, ‘I can’t.’ Which is one reason I am a Christian.” – Simple, soothing truth right there. Good words Emma.

  3. I’m sorry Katherine. None of us can cope on our own: but thanks be to God, we’re not. Praying for you x

  4. The more I recognise this self-talk, the better I feel and the more I want to read it, but I think, or does anyone else think , that maybe we should dustbin are dark self-talk? Is this stuff really for the glory of God? My analysis for what it is worth is that we Christians have been presented with a not entirely wholesome Gospel, that we have added our lies or darkness to it, and it is continuing to make us sick. On the otherhand if we cannot talk personal responsiblity, each one of us, for this kind of self-talk, for whatever reason, then what i have asserted is inexcusible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *