When you are enslaved to a taskmaster (you!) and how to be set free

Feb 3, 2014Find joy today, Not Marked

I’ve heard this before:

Don’t “should” all over yourself.

Oh dear. Guilty.

As Not Marked is readying for release a week from today, I’m scarily buried under a weight of shoulds.

  • I should try to be on more radio stations.
  • I should write more guest posts.
  • I should create more giveaways.
  • I should jump at every. single. opportunity.
  • I should always, always say yes.

That list of shoulds might not relate to you unless you’re an author trying to launch a book. But what about these shoulds?

  • I should write those thank you notes.
  • I should do that scary project at work–and now.
  • I should call my parents more often.
  • I should exercise 5 days a week.
  • I should eat more veggies.
  • I should volunteer more at school.

The thing is, these shoulds are GOOD. They would add value. The problem comes when the shoulds become a taskmaster, and you can no longer discern between what God may have for you versus what you feel you should do to be okay.

Thankfully, there’s this important truth:

Your lack of doing doesn’t nullify God’s great faithfulness. (click to tweet)

I truly, deeply need to rest there.

Because you know what? You’ll always have the shoulds with you. The To-Do list will be there in the morning. There is always more task than day. So in that realization, you can either be crazy like me (please don’t) and say YES to everything, or you can stop and learn to discern what is the best for the day. And you can learn that stopping has its benefit.

Last week, my eldest daughter called me. I was drowning in shoulds and, sad to admit, saw her call as an obstacle between me and my list. As she shared her heart, I relaxed into the call. I offered my perspective. Even so, when we hung up, I felt desperately sad.

Why? Because I am not sure I was quite WITH her in the conversation. My mind drifted to the tasks, enslaved to taskmaster me. Had I been more with her in the moment, I know I would’ve been able to give her what she truly needed–ME.

The last bit of truth in this post is this: People are more important than tasks. (click to tweet)

I’m praying to get back to that truth. That I could become more interruptible, more fluid in my ability to set down tasks for the sake of people. I would like us all to be free from having to say yes to every opportunity so we can see yes to the truly important ones.

What about you? How have you learned to let go of the inner taskmaster? How have you stopped “shoulding” all over yourself?

{Aside: Please don’t tell me I need counseling. I already know that! 🙂 }