Shoulda. Woulda. Coulda.

David and I have been through some tough stuff. Some of you know what tough stuff. Some don’t. But years ago, amidst the stuff, we weren’t doing well as a couple, and we sought help through an amazing Christian counselor that we have recently reconnected with again…and thanked him for literally saving our marriage. To which he replied, “Oh, I didn’t do anything.”

Gary, what?????? “OH, YES YOU DID!”

(As a side note, if someone thanks you for something you did for them, just say “You’re welcome” or something like that, ok? Please, for the love, don’t deflect.)

During that time, he counseled David and I together as a couple, and also separately/individually. And something I dealt with at that particular time (and sadly still do sometimes) is a case of the “shoulds.” He pointed out that he noticed that, as I talked about my feelings about whatever, that I often used the phrase, “I should” or “I should have.”

He very simply and kindly said to me… “LeeAnn, just please remove the word ‘should’ from your whole entire vocabulary.”

Ok, lemme ‘splain.

Have you ever found yourself saying things like this:

“Oh, I should have gone by and seen her while she was in the hospital.”
“I should know
her name by now. I know I’ve met her.”
“I should volunteer for that ministry.”
“I should keep the kitchen clean at all times.”
“I should remember to pray for that family.”
“I should be a better [whatever]
“I should work harder at ‘that’.”
“I should be more patient.”
“I should be more loving.”

My top-notch counselor reminded me that that simple 6-letter word “should” is very powerful, because it implies that there’s some kind of “law.” And that’s not only powerful…but a smidge dangerous.

Laws aren’t bad or evil, if they’re the right kind of laws. For instance, Jesus had a few “laws” that He insisted upon:

I “should” love my neighbor as myself.
That’s a Jesus-law.
I “should” love God with all my heart and all my mind and with all my soul and with all my strength.
That’s a Jesus-law.
I “should” pray for my enemies.
That’s a Jesus-law.
I “should” go the extra mile.
That’s a Jesus-law.
I “should” turn the other cheek.
That’s a Jesus-law.
I “should” be outrageously generous.
That’s a Jesus-law.

But we tend to make our own personal “laws”…
I “should” have remembered that woman’s name? Not a law.
I “should” know better than to do that.” Not a law.
I “should” go by and visit him? Not a law.
I “should” be a better wife/mom? Not a law.
I “should” eat right/exercise more? Not a law.
I “should” pay more attention to people. Not a law.

Fill in the blank of your own personal “shoulds.”

How do I fix that? What my counselor shared with me was just a simple change of a phrase. Instead of saying “I should,” exchange it for “I would like to” or “I would have liked to have…” or “I hope to be…”
“I would ‘like to’ remember her name.”
“I would ‘like to’ be a better wife.”
“I would ‘like to’ weigh less.”
“I would ‘like to’ pay off our debt.”
“I would ‘like to’ be a closer friend.”

When you have a lot of “shoulds” in your life, then you have a lot of laws. And when you have a lot of “laws” then you have a lot of “law-breaking”…a lot of disappointments and failures. Because when we break our own “should-laws,” we feel like we have failed. But when we set them up as “want-tos,” then we don’t necessarily fail…we simply don’t reach a wanted goal. And that’s not a failure. That’s simply a life-lesson…cuz we try again…and again…and again, if we need to. And eventually, we make it happen. We reach our God-given goals.

So here’s my challenge to you: If you find yourself using the two-word phrase “I should” more often than not, then change it to “I would like to.”

It changes everything. Believe me. No, really…seriously…believe me.

PS: And then…after that…just don’t never go back to any shoulds…ever!! Never. Ever.

Published by leeannramsey

Pastor's wife. Mom. Friend. Musician. Writer. Artist.

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