There is something I really enjoy about getting older. I have a much clearer sense of who God has created me to be, and I feel less pressure to be someone I am not. Even with this greater understanding of freedom, there are times I still live under the heavy weight of man-made expectations. I call this the Tyranny of Should.
Our society paints a picture of a successful woman. She has a full time career. Her children are well-behaved, and thrive at school and in the extra-curricular she actively supports. Her marriage is fulfilling with lots of romance and spice. She is a good cook and keeps an organized and spotless home. She exercises regularly to maintain her attractive figure. In the church, the successful woman looks a little different. She may not work full time, but she is actively involved in church ministry and is supportive of her husband. She spends hours in prayer and Bible study, and opens her home in hospitality.
There are equally demanding expectations on men. It’s overwhelming! What’s a person to do?
It’s important to periodically take stock of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. I ask the following questions.
What has God called me to do?
God’s calling will change throughout the seasons of our lives. I devoted years investing in my kids and being the primary support person for my pastor-husband. I loved it (for the most part) and knew that God had called me to do it. As my kids grew and needed me less, a new direction became more defined. I have been called to minister in the marketplace, and I have a pastor’s heart.
God’s calling guides my activities. The things I do must relate to His calling. I need to let the distractions go (as good as they may be).
What are my priorities?
We all have 24 hours in a day. I cannot do everything. My time must be spent on what is important to me. In order to see my priorities clearly, I write a list and rank them in order. The top five items are where I spend the majority of my time. Even though I may like other things, I must keep focus.
Because my time is limited, I also adjust my expectations for how much time I spend on my priorities. My top priority has always been cultivating my relationship with Jesus. When I had five young children at home, my devotional time looked much different than it does today. I longed for long hours of silence to listen and pray, but that wasn’t realistic. Now my house is quiet and I don’t long for silence anymore. On the other hand, with my current schedule, I only have 20 minutes a day to exercise. I know it’s not optimal, but it’s what I can do.
Resist the Tyranny of Should. Pursue what God has called you to do, and do what you can do with confidence.