Saying Bye to “Should”


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.

shirt // leggings (similar) // cap (similar) // boots


36 comments so far.

36 responses to “Saying Bye to “Should””

  1. Bryson says:

    This is amazing! Honestly everything I needed to read in this moment. Thank you for always being an encouragement and being honest about your struggles. It is making such an impact!

  2. melissa z says:

    wow wow wow. this was so beautiful and i rlly needed to hear that. praise God that He gave you the ability to express your thoughts in a way that can help others. thanks so much mary kate 🙂

  3. Cassidy Wilson says:

    This is exactly what I need to hear. Thank you!!

  4. Alizée says:

    Hi Mary Kate, thanks a lot for all your content! Have you tried to incorporate maca powder in your diet? It’s a good natural way that helps the body regulate hormones. I hope it can help you, love from France xx

    • marykate says:

      Hi! I actually JUST started incorporating maca…literally this past week. I was making a recipe a friend gave me, but wasn’t even sure maca helped with hormones, so thanks so much for letting me know! So cool to hear from you in France:))

  5. Joshua Stidham says:

    I needed this!

  6. Rafaella Jimenez (Raf) says:

    WOW, such an amazing and much needed post! Jesus shines through you!!

  7. Morgan McGuffee says:

    Mary Kate I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I didn’t hink I’ve ever related or been more inspired by one your post then this one!! Truly well said, I suffer with thyroid and hormonal problems as well and I’ve been trying to find a way to get out of my head on my expectations of how things should be going, and wow did you hit it on the mark. It’s so crazy how God places influential people like yourself in strangers life. You answer his call and you are so transparent and sometimes you say exactly how another feels and it changes everyone’s percpective , this is just one of God’s greatest gifts to me and I’m praising him for that so much today. Your truly inspiring and oh how much Jesus shines through you!!

  8. Mom says:

    This reminded me of your wedding reception when you didn’t want the night to end???. This may be my favorite post!

  9. Gianna says:

    My pastor today was talking about proverbs and mentioned proverbs 17:22 thank you so much for this message I’m really going to start focusing on the blessings in my life and not the bad and that God is enough.

  10. Natalie says:

    This is so so good! So encouraging thanks for sharing!

  11. Katie Hopper says:

    I’ve been struggling with anxiety and I’ve found myself thinking that it should have stopped plaguing me by now. Reading this I realized that the times that my anxiety are worst is when I’m thinking it shouldn’t be happening then and there. So thank you, this has helped me to gain a new perspective!

  12. Sierra says:

    This was a refreshing read, Mary Kate…in that my heart really truly needed it. I felt like my birthday in early January was a crossroads for me…to pick up & move forward IN JOY. The cycle of grief/hope/healing seems endless…but we have to choose to begin it…and in the beginning, we learn & grow…and find newly sprung life where we did not know life could ever be. That’s what God does with these broken bodies & aching hearts! I love your honesty…and NEEDED this encouragement tonight!

  13. Emily Kate says:

    Such a blessing to read your writing. Every time it hits in all the right places! Fully on board with this new perspective!

  14. Jessie says:

    I’ve been having a lot of feelings of doubt about some things lately and coming across this blog post was something I truly needed. You are one of my biggest role models, I look at you and think “wow I want to be just like her someday, she is a true woman of Faith.” thank you so much for being such a big inspiration to me.

  15. Julia says:

    This is awesome! Just the “twist in words” I needed. I have said this too often…thanks for the post:)

  16. Abby says:

    This was a great thing to read as I start my week! I think we’re all guilty of doing this, and this post was a great reminder to try and accept/appreciate/thrive in our realities. Thanks for sharing!!


  17. Anna says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I needed this refreshed perspective. As someone who has fought Lyme and thyroid issues for years only to have them reflare up again all last year, I really needed to hear this!

  18. Maggie says:


    I was diagnosed with a chronic disease (not life threatening or anything) when I was ten and I quickly realized negativity is poisonous! I try my very best to dwell on all the good things in life and all the things God has abundantly blessed me with and one of my favorite verses of all time is “a cheerful disposition is good for your health, gloom and doom leave you bone tired.”

    I love all your posts but this one was especially relevant to me, so thank you for this!

    Maggie 🙂

  19. Abigail says:

    Wow, thanks so much for sharing this. My family lives in India, where I grew up for 18 years. Last week, I moved back to NZ for my second year of university/college, but it has been SO HARD coming back. All I am thinking is, “ugh, I should be living in India,” and it’s been so difficult to be in an environment which in my eyes is second best. But this has made me realise that actually I need to make the most of this and every opportunity over here as well 🙂 Thanks for sharing and such a needed time!

  20. Meaghan says:

    This is so wise! I wish I could pick out a line that stuck out to me the most, but the whole thing was just so good. Thank you for sharing! For someone about to graduate college and looking forward into the next stage of life, I am so encouraged!

    – Meaghan |

  21. […] via Saying Bye to “Should” — The Little Duckwife […]

  22. Rachael says:

    “Sometimes I focus so much on healing, which is a gift from Him, when He wants my focus on Him.” Yesss! Sometimes you just need to hear things in a new way for them to actually get to your heart in the right way. This is definitely something God has been trying to teach me for the past year (or more), but it has been one of those things stuck in my head, but not in my heart. I think reading that changed that a little bit tonight. Thank you Mary Kate <3

  23. Poppy says:

    Hi Marykate! Thank you so much for putting yourself out there and sharing your heart and struggles. You encourage so many with your insight:-) and you’re using your God given gift (exhorting others) in an awesome way! I too have hormone and thyroid issues which sometimes have made me feel like I’m going out of my mind. What works for one doesn’t always work for another, but I feel like the Lord has shown me little things here and there along the way that really seem to help. Have you tried stopping sugar, all dairy unless raw and gluten fully like 100%? Ugh… Talk about a full time job trying to figure out what to eat that doesn’t contain those. Everytime I get into that stuff my chest tightens and a false anxiety hits me like a train for about 3 or 4 days. The only way I can curb my cravings for sugar is to juice. Drinking a glass of apple, carrot, spinach, beet, lemon juice and that craving disappears. I believe you’ve mentioned birth control and antibiotics in your posts? Both of those can mess up your digestive system and can alter the way you feel physically so a good probiotic can really help with that. City water that has fluoride, chlorine, etc can affect your thyroid and so can stress. You may know all of this already and maybe you’re like me are tired of everyone trying to help with their ideas that lead to nowhere and just wish they would pray for you instead so God bless you and I will ask the Lord to help you and your family with this craziness that Lymes Disease has laid open you all.

  24. […] Find Ben’s book here and Mary Kate’s blog here […]

  25. Stephen cobb says:

    I love Sadie Robertson her word of god and her inspirational pep talks she has on her videos is awesome then come to your site and I get to read about you and get inspired thanks so much for this you and Sadie are changing my life when it comes to life and god !

  26. Addi Freiheit says:

    Man, this totally hit Home for me- I’ve been so stuck living in the should, constantly comparing my reality what I think life SHOULD be like, ugh. But thank you for sharing! It’s so reassuring to know that we aren’t alone in this, and that God gave us community to support and encourage each other. Your doing such an awesome job of that:)
    Question- do you have any Christian blogs you like to look at? I’m having trouble finding ones…
    Love, Addi

  27. Caroline Conner says:

    I love this post! I decided to cut out “should have / could have” and “shouldn’t have” from my vocabulary and I feel like it has made me so much more positive. When I find myself thinking these things, I have to remind myself that everything happens for a reason and wishing away your present circumstances doesn’t help you live into them. I feel like I have been able to make more confident decisions in the Lord and am more content with my life! I praise God because it was through prayer that he showed me this, and I have been able to share it with my mom who is chronically very unhappy and depressed with her life.

  28. Afton Urton says:

    Wow wow wow=all the words I can find after reading this post (haha this is a lie because I wrote a big post)

    Not too long ago I remember you talking about possibly deleting your Instagram and maybe even your blog. I just want to encourage you and tell you that this was not the first time I read this post. It is actually my 4th time. Every time I read it I swear the Lord just brings me full circle again to re focus my eyes. He can find anyway and I mean ANYWAY to show me something new or just reiterate what he has said before. The most exciting thing is that this is not your only post like this. I often find myself coming to your blog, time and time again to be encouraged, challenged, and honestly just put in my place. I know I am kinda going on a goose chance here so here is my point. Not only did this post impact me the first time I read it but even three months after I read it and I know it will do the same five years down the road. So even if you decide to step away from social media, I want to plead with you that you will find someway to keep these visible to the public. I know I am not the only one reading and being encouraged like this. Mary Kate… take the opportunity to challenge all generation’s not just this one (well in a way you will already change the next ones too because it will continue down from the people you have taught now but still).

  29. Stacey says:

    This is SO good, Mary Kate! I catch myself saying should all the time and I always get this kind of icky feeling when it comes out of my mouth…your post helped explain more of what I was feeling. Love these action tips and I want to try them too! Thanks for all your inspiring messages you share!

  30. Jena Hudson says:

    I know that you posted this a while back but I’m just now catching up on your blog posts and this post was exactly what I needed exactly at this time in my life. And what’s even cooler, totally a God thing, is that I heard a similar message early this week! God’s definitely speaking to me! Thank you for sharing & keep sharing! I love reading your posts!

  31. Faith Buer says:

    Hi thank you for sharing this. I truly needed to hear this. I have a low thyroid and was taking medication the doctor gave me (Levothyroxin) for years. However I just didn’t like taking a drug, I wanted something natural. So I bought Thyromin from YoungLiving and this has been the only thing that actually works it’s really amazing. Anyway just felt like I should share that with you.

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