“She thinks I should…”
That was how a conversation recently started with a young, 30-ish gal I spoke with. She went on to explain that she felt guilty whenever she didn’t do what her mother told her she “should” do.
This is an issue I see all too frequently. Sometimes we hear what we “should” be doing by friends or family members, but sometimes it is the whisper in our ear by the enemy of our soul.
As we near the holidays, these whispers can become even more pronounced. Often during the holidays, our behavior is governed by expectations and by people telling us what they think we should do., whether they are family members, friends, bosses, or acquaintances.
Yet it’s important that we aren’t led by others’ expectations but instead led by God’s desires. Scripture says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21). So it’s important that we submit our plans and desires before the Lord and listen to what He wants us to do rather than be led by other people’s expectations and being led by guilt.
So many people express guilt if they don’t do what their mother wants them to do, or their spouse wants them to do, or their best friend wants them to do. But we really need to be led by what God wants us to do.
In conversing with the young woman I mentioned previously, she kept referring back to the fact that others in her life kept telling her that she “should” be doing this, that, or the other thing even when what they were encouraging didn’t line up with what she had peace about in her heart.
In my first year of graduate school, I learned the saying, “Do not should on yourself.” It has served me well over the years because when I recognize myself saying, “I should…” it gives me pause to stop and ask where that message is coming from. Who is telling me that?
It lets me take a moment to reflect on the source of that admonition—is it from God or someone else? Am I putting pressure on myself that God is not putting on me? Am I allowing others to put pressure on me to live up to an expectation that isn’t consistent with what God has said? Just because others say it or expect it doesn’t mean it is truth!
Whose voice are you listening to? The only voice that matters is that of your Heavenly Father. If He is telling you to do something, I would say listen. But if you are listening to other voices that don’t line up with what He is telling you, they don’t matter.
So often we are led by a sense of guilt. Can I just take a moment and tell you where guilt really comes from? Guilt comes from the enemy of your soul. Guilt does not come from your Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit convicts for the purpose of gentle correction to keep you in a restored relationship with God—not to bring guilt.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
So it’s important that we are not led by guilt, but led by God. That will keep you in peace.
May I pray for you?
You are the giver of peace, the comforter of our soul. You have given us the Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth. I pray for the one who is reading these words right now. Would you help them to know your truth and to hear your voice? Help them to be guided by you and not by guilt or the expectations of others, for you are the only one we need to seek to please. And in your word you say that when we believe in you, we have pleased you. Grow our faith in you, to believe you are who you say you are, to believe that you will do what you way you will do, and to believe that you care as much about the details of our lives as you do about everyone else’s. Give this one an ability to follow hard after you, not because of guilt but out of joy in doing so. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Because of Him, #PeacePrevails!
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