In all my years developing my own voice and finding balance in how I speak to others, I really didn’t work on how to speak to ME. As the years went by, I became harder and harder on myself. Frustration of unborn dreams and untapped talents left me disappointed. I constantly focused on what was wrong or missing from my life. Do you find yourself doing that?
Let’s drill down on that word should. For so many years, I lived under a tent of comparison that I erected. I made it nearly impossible to celebrate victories because I should have done it sooner, or weighed less when I did it, or had more faith during it. I was nearly obsessed with what I thought I should already know or practice. And don’t get me started on where I thought I should be or should have at a particular juncture in my life!
Can you relate? Do you have a relationship with the word should that prevents you from seeing your highest potential to still do great things? When I looked up should in the dictionary, I was surprised to find that it is the simple past tense of shall. That definition made it completely obvious why using that word gets under my skin! Imagine for a moment that you were in the midst of racial persecution during the Civil Rights Movement and one of the songs of encouragement pivoted on, ‘We should overcome…’ How might that affect your ability to endure?
As preposterous as it sounds in that case, it’s even more evident in the Word of God. One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 55:11 — So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Replacing “shall” with “should” in this passage removes the assurance that we need to possess about God’s Word and power! Can you see how the same is true when you use the word should the way that I had for years? No mystery why my faith often wavered!
Think of the definition again – simple past tense of shall. We could say, ‘I should have gotten off at that exit,’ just as we pass it. (Note: If you live in Florida, they always find a way to get off.) In that context there’s no issue. We inherently know we can reroute and still reach our destination. We may express frustration about losing time, but it’s no big deal.
But what about this context: I should have gone back to school. Or, I should quit this job, but…. How do those speak to your spirit? Those statements seem to suggest an unchangeable position, or one of fear and uncertainty. Over time those feelings often breed hopelessness and point to a failure inside. But is that what God believes about you or your situation? Likely not.
Think about this. What is your heart’s position when you ask God whether you “should” do something? Only you truly know if you’re leaving the door open just in case your “shall” is now past tense, or if you don’t believe you can still accomplish what’s in your heart to do.
The next time a little voice suggests that you ‘should’ have anything other than what you have, or be anything or anywhere other than where you are, examine it. If hearing ‘should’ makes you think of giving up any ground in any way, reject it.
Respond to the voice of fear or doubt, ‘Who are you talking to?’ Train yourself to believe that anything that should be done by you, can (and shall) still be done by you, through Christ which strengthens you.