This post is part of my Foundation 2019 series. Read why I chose “Foundation” as my word for the year here.
I live much of my life right smack dab in the middle of what I call a “Shouldstorm.”
I sit here as I type this staring at a pile of unfolded laundry, not even showered yet, with a to-do list a mile long and only about 45 minutes before I have to pick up my daughter from preschool and the winds are starting to kick up. “You should be folding that laundry- matter fact, you should have folded it right away, it shouldn’t even be sitting there. And while you’re at it, you should walk right past those laundry machines and organize the storage area. And you haven’t worked out in awhile, you should be doing a better job of working that into your life because you should be back your pre-babies weight by now…”
It always feels like there are a million things I should be doing at any given moment. The ones I’m neglecting needle and nag me, I barely have the time and bandwidth for the ones I am doing, and let’s not even discuss the things I probably should be doing that I don’t even know about. It’s a veritable maelstrom of “shoulds,” so I call it a “shouldstorm.” Note: if you happen to hear in the term “should-storm” a striking auditory similarity to another “stormy” term that features a more colorful sh-word (aka “sh*tstorm”), I assure you that it’s not even a little bit coincidental.
I’d like to be able to to say that it began when I became a mom, and motherhood has definitely ramped the storm it up to a category 5 hurricane. But if I’m honest with myself, it’s always been like this for me. Ever since my teen years, I’ve struggled with the feeling that there’s something else or something more I should be doing, some other way I should be- It’s like FOMO (fear of missing out) and FONBE (fear of not being enough) all rolled into one.
I’m deeply convinced that each of our unique struggles have their roots in the very same unique gifts that God has woven into each of us for our good and His glory, and this is no exception. I’m a caring and conscientious person with an eye for possibility and a heart for doing my best for others (Enneagram 2 right here). When I was doing classroom internships as an undergrad, my mentor teachers would consistently describe me as a “self-starter,” meaning I would just see what needed to be done and do it without having to be asked or told. All good things, right?
And the urge we feel to do better for ourselves, for our families, and for God isn’t inherently a bad thing either. Wanting to improve is good and necessary, we should get after it and stay after it.
But the fallen world, under the conniving thumb of the enemy of our souls, twists stuff up, takes a kernel of beautiful truth and turns it into a lie, an indictment, a weight around our ankles. One doesn’t even have to be a raging Enneagram 2 for this world to convince us that we aren’t doing enough and being enough, placing a barrier between us and God.
And there, we have the “Shouldstorm.”
Not only does the “Shouldstorm” separate us from the love and grace of God, it can also be paralyzing when it comes to putting actual growth and improvement into action. I talked in a an earlier post about how previous years have found me struggling to choose a word or resolution for the year and I think the “Shouldstorm” is largely responsible for that. When I look at my life through my own eyes, I see so many things that need to do better, ways I could and should be better, I don’t even know where to start.
This is why I’ve decided to stop relying on my own eyes, with their cracked lenses and world-weary slant, to help me see what needs to doing in me. Instead, I’m going to just ask my Heavenly Father what I truly should be doing.
It makes perfect sense when you think about it. While I’m down here fumbling around in the fog trying to put together a puzzle with pieces I haven’t even been given yet, God is sittin’ up there on His heavenly throne holding both the blueprints to every fiber of my being and the roadmap to my entire life. While I look at myself with eyes that have been tainted and warped by the decidedly non-Kingdom values of the fallen world, His vision is perfectly clear and He’s looking at me through eyes of more love and grace than I have any idea. His vision is omniscient, omnipotent, and eternal and He knows the true shoulds for today, tomorrow, and every day until I make it home to Him.
So as I sit here next to this pile of laundry, I’m looking away from it and up to God. I’m asking Jesus to go all Mark 4:39 for me, right here and right now, and rebuke these winds and waves that are battering me with shoulds, commanding it all to be still. I breathe in, I breathe out, and I open up to let God speak.
I lean into the holy urge to action, and I offer it to God. Lord, here is my offering. My statement of faith in You, that You hold everything in Your hand and You know better than I do what NEEDS to be done. I believe that Your priorities for me are higher than those of the world. I believe that on Your vision for my hours, my days, my life, is better than my own.
So lead me, Father, out of the “Shouldstorm,” on that paths of Your righteousness that lead to Your plans for me. The seemingly endless little, daily tasks like laundry and cooking and the dratted organizing of the storage- order them to make my life fertile and stable ground for you to plant and reap and sew. Guide my heart the bigger things I may be ignoring.
And in all of it, draw me ever nearer to you. Shut down the “Shouldstorm” and order my steps.