Friday, October 31, 2014

The Problem with Universal Shoulds

Some people benefit greatly from being asked (even pressured in some way) to do things, while others aren't benefited by such an approach and actually can be harmed by it. In terms of church callings, there is an inherent contradiction in both extremes - always accepting assignments and never accepting assignments that aren't appreciated or wanted. Many people benefit from each approach in different situations and different times of their lives.

The real conflict occurs when the word "should" enters the discussion - since we really should accept callings, except when we shouldn't. We really shouldn't put limitations on service, except when we should. We really shouldn't dictate the terms of our service, except when we should. Sacrifice really is a great principle, except when it isn't. We really should give until it hurts, except when it hurts too much.

We really should submit to the will of God (and, to a degree, to our mortal leaders) - but we should never stop being agents unto ourselves.

"Should" is a two-edged sword that is incredibly difficult to wield properly and helpfully, and most of our deepest disappointments are centered on expectations more than actual actions in and of themselves.  (If you don't understand what I mean by that, think about it a bit - and ask in a comment, if necessary.)  Thus, I generally try to avoid "should" and expectations.  Rather, I try to deal strictly with trying to choose desired consequences. 


Anonymous said...

Um, I think you're saying that I should take responsibility for myself? Not sure though. Anyhoo, that's the conclusion I've come to, and I do try not to make others responsible for me. Can make it a bit lonely though.

Patty said...

I agree that many of our disappointments are due to our expectations of what we think "should" be.
An example would be when we think our spouse "should" show their affection in a particular way (flowers, poem or letter, doing the dishes, physical affection, etc.) and they don't because a) it's not their usual way of displaying affection or b) because they don't know that it's what we want. The disappointment is more about us not receiving something we thought we "should" get, it's not really disappointment in the person or relationship itself. If we remove the "should" expectations, it opens us up to see the displays of affection that are actually occurring and we become happier and more content in our relationships.
I think it applies to most things in life. If we take away the expectation of how things "should" be and just accept what IS or CAN BE, we can make our choices from a rational but flexible standpoint.