I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the word “should.”
Ever since I was little I think I’ve always gotten really excited about things and tunnel-visioned on things, which can totally be a good thing if channeled correctly! But the problem came about when those things that I got so excited about didn’t go how I thought they “should” go.
I remember going to our church Easter egg hunt one year when I was probably 5. You guys, I was thriving. I love parties and I love chocolate, so I was obviously in my element. Well eventually it was time to go, I believe to my grandparents house. Y’ALL. To this day I remember the tantrum I threw. I did NOT want to leave. I thought I should get to stay longer. We stopped to get gas at the place I normally got an ICEE and I was still just pitching a fit. My mom got on to me. I think part of my punish was not getting an ICEE.
MORAL OF THE STORY: I was so busy dwelling on what I thought “should” be happening. “I should still be at the party. This isn’t fair. I should still be playing with my friends. I should not be at the gas station.” While I was so captivated by whining about that, I was missing out on the good that was happening where I actually was. I missed out on the peace and fun of that car ride, and I missed out on an ICEE.
Now in life it’s not an Easter egg hunt and an ICEE.
I realized this over break. I had a hard time fully focusing when we are in Israel because my mind was so captivated in the “should.” About a month before our trip I had started on some medicine that was supposed to help my thyroid and my hormones…this would help with my chronic fatigue, mood, and even weight loss…3 things my body seems to wage against me. Anyway I had had in my head that by the time we were in Israel my medicine would have already kicked in and I’d be feeling great. Well we got to Israel and not only had in not kicked in, I was still experiencing side effects from the medicine, namely: horrible, painful cystic acne. I was bummed to say the last. I just kept thinking to myself, “The medicine should have worked by now.” When I couldn’t stay awake through the tour guide’s talk or couldn’t focus through a conversation, I’d think, “This isn’t fair, this medicine should be working.” Even through Christmas I hadn’t fully shaken it. Then at home I came to see everyone was having a hard time with their Lyme. My dad and sister felt horrible and I realized in our house all we were dwelling on was “We should be feeling better than this.”
I don’t know when it hit me, but at some point I was like, “We CANNOT keep thinking about the ‘should’. We have to start thinking about where we are now, and what we have to work with here.” This thought may have started a little while back with a story Lysa TerKeurst shared on her instagram about a man named Itzhak Pearlman. He once broke a string at the start of a Lincoln Center recital. Rather than replacing it, he played the entire concert with a broken instrument. At the end he said, “Sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can make with what you have left.”
I think a lot of us, or really all of us, have a broken instrument. And it may not have been our fault our instrument broke. Maybe it just broke. Or maybe even someone else came along and broke your instrument. It’s up to us to choose what we do next. We can whine and complain, we can blame someone else, or we can just move forward and work with what we have. It’s up to us to choose where we are going to place our focus and our energy. We can try to fix our instrument, sometimes we fix it, but I think some of us can work our whole lives away trying to fix it only to realize it can’t be fixed.
I look at myself and my sick family. We are sick. I am hopeful and I am prayerful and I am going to continue to see my doctor. But I am not going to fixate on how my life should be and let that steal away my joy. I’m sure everyone’s heard “Comparison is the thief of joy.” We always say that in reference to comparing ourselves with someone else, but it’s just as true when we compare our reality to our idea of how something should be! I will not speak this over myself. I will not dwell in the “should.” Of course I will be continue to be prayerful and hopeful and see my doctor, but I want to focus on all I presently have rather than what I do not have.
Maybe you’re not sick, but you feel like something should be different in your life as well.
“I should have gotten that job.”
“My husband should be more ________.”
“I should have been picked for that team.”
“I should be getting to go do _________.”
Here’s the thing…there is always going to be bad in the world and there is always going to be something we don’t like. But there is also always going to be something good in the world and always something we can be thankful for. It’s up to us what we choose to let our minds dwell on. I just want to focus more on the good and count all my blessings.
Here’s how I plan on doing that:
1. Look around me in my day to day life for all the little things I so often take for granted. John Piper said at Passion “All God’s gifts are to point us back to Him.” Since then I have been so obsessed with showers and baths…not that I haven’t been before, but the way I think about it. When I am so freaking cold and I feel the hot water on my skin I think “Wow God…you created me to enjoy this. You gave me this gift. This enjoyment is just a slight taste of you.” All his gifts are to point us through to Him.
2. Pray. Pray that the Holy Spirit would change my lens. Pray that He would help me to focus on the good.
3. I’m not going to speak the negative. This might take some time to eradicate it from my vocabulary because it’s just a habit, but just because I am feeling something doesn’t mean I have to speak it out loud. Speaking something out loud always seems to give it a little more power, that can eventually end up being a whole lot of power. Before we know it something we thought was half true, becomes really real to us. Someone growing up would talk about her anxiety, which made me start talking about my anxiety (WHICH I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE) until what do ya know…I start actually getting nervous and worked up about things! There are power in our words and not only do they affect us but they affect the ones around us!
4. Focus on God. I shared my word for the year with you guys, “Overflow” and said that I want everything I do to be from the overflow I experience from the Lord. When I am focusing on God, instead on His gifts, I won’t be let down because He’s not going to fail me. Sometimes I focus so much on healing, which is a gift from Him, when He wants my focus on Him.
5. A simple one, but something that ALWAYS makes me feel better. Get outside. Whether for a run, a walk, or just a sit…theres something about nature that does a lot of good for the soul.
Lately I’ve been reading and re-reading Proverbs 17:22. It says:
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bone.”
When my focus is on Him, I feel better. I feel more confident and happy and assured. I feel a peace in my Spirit and joy in my heart. I’m realizing that when my body isn’t strong and capable, it’s my heart that’s got to be the one to carry me through! Guys…I’m pretty sure this is even science…endorphins and all ya know?! When you’re happy and laughing and smiling, you feel better.
So if you’re in this with me, let’s let this be the year we stop focusing on the “should” and we focus on the good. If all the good we seem to have at the moment is God, that is more than enough.