I don’t really like the word “should,” especially when it comes to marriage. That’s probably because I use it regularly… And whenever I get a case of the “shoulds”, I always feel like I’m not measuring up in one way or another. I’m left feeling insecure, frustrated…. overwhelmed. It feels like swimming up a raging waterfall. It’s hopeless, exhausting, and fruitless.
As a wife, I often feel like I should be more adventurous in bed, or I should be better about not spending money…for the husband, it might be, I should work harder for that bonus so we can do/have this – or, I should be more honest and transparent about what I’m dealing with (e.g. at work, online, at home), but how can I?
Even as I sit down to write this blog post there are thoughts running through my head about what I should be doing right at this moment, e.g. I should be cleaning up the house during nap time, or I should be writing more blog posts, or I should write about other topics…
Warning, I do hang out with a 2-year old all day (and love it!), but it may spill over into some of my posts. Just roll with it and appreciate the simplicity if you can… also, feel free to laugh. What is life with a toddler without laughter?? :)
Ok, back to my point.
The Should-Monster shows its face in many ways. Sometimes through conversations with well-meaning, but perhaps not very biblically-minded friends who’s own marriages are on the rocks. Advice resembling, “You should kick him out!” or “You shouldn’t have to deal with that!” or “She should do what you want her to in bed!” can be detrimental to a marriage.
And let’s face it, social media breeds comparison which adds to the never-ending list of what you should or should not be doing in your marriage…or in life. Compelling images, fiery statements, opinions, and beliefs that tend to let the Should-Monster out of its cage. Our culture is drowning in the ocean of comparison, and the Should-Monster is locking weights around our ankles, pulling us down further and further… leaving us and our marriages in desperate need of a Savior.
I know I am not the only one who deals with the Should-Monster on a daily basis. Honestly, to me it reflects a weapon of the enemy who seeks to steal our joy, kill our hope, and destroy our marriages.
The word “should” is a yoke of slavery. It is pulling our souls in the wrong direction, turning our ears away from Jesus, and burdening our hearts and minds with finite, earthly things that can lead to the destruction of our marriage.
Eliminated By Grace
When I find my marriage struggling; when Ryan and I aren’t seeing eye to eye and I feel our agreement and intimacy being chipped away, it’s time I go back to my Savior. I’ve strayed too far and have forgotten His Words that eliminate the pressure and burden of what I/Ryan should be doing.
In Matthew 11 (verses 28-30) our Savior’s words illuminate grace and destroy the chains that the word “should” has wrapped our marriage in,
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
How can Jesus say this? Honestly, even following Jesus at times feels like it has it’s own list of “shoulds.”
Friends, Jesus can say this because his life, death, and resurrection broke these chains! He alone took the burden of what we should be doing to be in right-standing with God and replaced it with true freedom only his grace can bring (Gal. 5:1).
Jesus doesn’t burden us with the pressures of should; he simply invites us in and says Come! (Matthew 11:28)
Now go, freedom is yours
The message of the gospel is this: yes, there are a thousand (plus) things we should be doing. In fact, there’s actually a standard of perfection that God requires of those wanting to be in relationship and right standing with Him.
BUT, thank God! Thank God He sent His Son Jesus to pay the price and eliminate the list of things we should be doing! (Caveat: read the book of James and you’ll see lots to do with works as evidence of faith. Doing good things is good! Works just aren’t a prerequisite to being loved and accepted by God.)
The gospel says,
- I measure up because of what Jesus has done, not what I do.
- I am fully known and fully accepted because of Jesus, not because I’m perfect.
- I am loved because He first loved me, not because I love him or I’m lovable all the time.
It’s only Christ’s unconditional love that frees, compels, and leads us to love and accept our spouse (and ourselves) with grace. Let’s eliminate the should-list from our marriages and learn to live in freedom with God in Christ.
May you know that you are loved dearly and cherished deeply by our sweet Savior. And may every ounce of his goodness overflow and overshadow all of the Should-Monsters in your life and marriage.