The “shoulds” feel extra loud around holidays that don’t necessarily feel like celebrations for everyone. Although I haven’t written much in this space recently, this week felt like the right time to offer some encouragement, a gift, and an invitation. What I hope we celebrate this weekend are the ways we all have the ability to shape someone’s life and the women who have done that for us, no matter how (or even if) we’re related to them.
Here’s a little excerpt from my new book, “Quieting the Shout of Should“…
Caring for another human being—whether a child, an ailing spouse, or an aging parent—can send us into a panic. We start looking everywhere and to everything we think might give us an answer, an assurance, or some hope. When our plans that we so carefully created aren’t working out the way we thought they would, we scramble, forgetting that we have a Father who is right there with us—drawing us near so that we can quiet the shouts of should and be the women He created us to be.
The struggle to overcome the shoulds of motherhood is one all women face, because we all nurture, care for, raise, mentor, lead, or invest in other human beings in some capacity. You might have a biological child, an adopted child, a foster child you’ve opened your home to, a niece or nephew, kids in your community, a church youth group, or a younger woman at your workplace you’ve chosen to mentor.
Motherhood has one name but endless definitions.
Because motherhood brings with it the need to love and protect another human to the best of our ability, we can find ourselves a bit defensive when we receive unsolicited advice, raised eyebrows, and alarmingly personal questions from strangers. But motherhood can also open the door to an endless stream of shoulds as we look at our friends, other moms in our communities, and even celebrities and compare our parenting choices.
Comparison is a tool that has been used since the earliest days of humanity to evaluate and identify who we are, how we can serve, and what we’re good at. And we get to choose whether or not we use it in a positive or negative way.
Imagine comparison as a superhero power. Like any good action star, you’ve come to a place where you must decide how you’re going to use your gift. Will you use it for good, working hard to embrace a kind of “upward” comparison that will help you grow, improve, connect, and dream? Or will you use your comparison gift and serve the dark side—putting yourself higher than others, focusing on what you lack, and drifting away from community?
When we don’t know who we are in Christ we can allow the shoulds to distract us from our purpose. All I need to do is look outside at our garden to be reminded that God is wonderfully creative. Yes, each plant in our garden is technically a flower, but they each express their true form in a unique way. Different heights, colors, scents. Some need more sun than others, and some only bloom for a few short days, while others flower for an entire season. When we embrace the unique way God designed each of us to mother—and whom He calls us to nurture—we can break the cycle of should and watch the next generation bloom beautifully.
It takes courage to quiet the shout of should that tells us we’re doing all the wrong things with the people God has placed in our lives. It takes courage to trust that He has given them to us for a reason. God has chosen you to love and lead the next generation, and you can have faith that His expectations for you are reasonable and reachable and full of grace.
If you would like to download some free art prints, my gift to you, you can find those here.
As for that invitation? In one month, “Holy Hustle” will turn 2 years old and I would love to have you join me for a special book club celebration. We’ll hang out over on Patreon in a private community where you’ll receive exclusive access to a podcast book club hosted by me, behind the scenes peeks at the book writing, publishing, and launch process for “Quieting the Shout of Should,” giveaways, Q&A, and more! You can learn more & sign up by clicking here.