Many of us women find ourselves enslaved to the bondage of what we “should” and “ought” to do. Freedom from this way of life is possible if we fight for it.
You should eat more vegetables.
You should get more exercise.
You should lose that ten pounds…yesterday.
You should read your Bible more. And while we’re at it, you should pray more.
You ought to be more kind…and really, you should visit your mother more often.
You ought to adopt one of those Compassion children… Or give money to save those sad, quivering dogs shown on the commercials during your favorite television shows. (Why are they always cold?)
Freedom From: Measuring Up
Sometimes it’s like a ceaseless loop spinning in my brain, the constant ‘shoulds and oughts’ whispering. Or screaming, depending on the day. Each whisper holds the same underlying message: I don’t make the bar; I didn’t measure up to an unknowable goal.
This is a battle of the mind, and a battle of the spirit and a war too many women fight. Regardless of age, race, or education, there are few women with whom I have been acquainted who have not struggled with the inner voice of ‘shoulds and oughts.’
Bondage: The Source
From where or whom does it originate? Obviously, it belies a lack of self-esteem, but it appears to be most rampant among females. There are many possible reasons.
For some, it began in a home where perfection was expected and average was seldom accepted as ‘good enough.’ For others, abandonment or neglect in childhood bred feelings of not being valuable. Childhood sexual abuse also kills self-worth.
Others attend, or grew up attending churches with rigid doctrine concerning God. God was used as a threat. He was angry or didn’t love us if we did this or that (or didn’t do this or that). This is completely NOT scriptural. However, it is completely controlling for a leader to use in manipulating the flock to do his own will. In reality, Scripture teaches clearly of the Father’s unfailing love for us, of His infinite patience, and His desire that none should perish. But that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). (Please don’t read this to mean I believe that God doesn’t punish sin. However, His punishment is never punitive, as a person’s might be).
The culture in which we live has placed a great deal of ‘shoulds’ on females today. For instance, every single girl or woman should have peaches and cream skin, be at least 5 feet 7 inches, and have the body of a size 2…with a bra size of at least 36C. Probably 98% of the females who walk the planet do not possess these traits. Consequently, there is an epidemic of women everywhere who are ashamed of their bodies and/or looks. In the seventies, PR departments of clothing and makeup companies co-opted what was once a normal, average female body and convinced at least half of the population that they were not as thin or beautiful as they should be…
And Satan loved it so.
Bondage: The Result
As a result, depression has taken a significant leap in teen girls in recent years and eating disorders are not just for kids
Scripture’s Should and Ought’s
Then He spoke a parable to them that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples [weaknesses] of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
I Corinthians 2:4-5
…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so also should you.
For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
I John 3:11
There are several more verses to offer, but truthfully, if my heart and mind will focus on Scripture’s oughts, the lies will cease. In fact, they have stopped occurring as often as they did in the past. Satan is a slow learner, but he does finally get the hint.
And in the midst of it all, I am learning how to be a little more like my Lord and Teacher, Jesus Christ.
The next time you find yourself trapped in the bondage of should and ought, fight for freedom with the Word.
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