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Shedding the Shoulds

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There are often times we do things because we feel expected to do so. We feel we ‘should’.

The Christmas season is filled with ‘shoulds’ and expectations we’re asked to meet:

Spending money on gifts, participating in obligatory gift exchanges, office parties, family parties, church parties, festive decorating, baking, baking and more baking, volunteering for events and financial giving.

Not only are there things we should do, but there are ways we should feel.

We should feel the magic of Christmas.

We should feel festive.

We should feel deeply spiritual.

We should feel motivated to say yes to endless demands on our time.

And to top it all off, we’re expected to be still and quiet. But not too still because who’s gonna do all that stuff listed above if we’re too occupied with being still?

This year, as I focus on Advent, I’m working on letting go of ‘the shoulds’ and allowing things to unfold without a lot of preplanning.

I’ll say yes to some things and no others. Of course, saying no isn’t popular. But we aren’t called to be popular. When we try to live up to what others think we should be doing, our attention to God’s voice in our lives is diminished.

I’m challenging the idea that the more we do and spend equals a more meaningful Christmas. This year we won’t be doing gifts for our older three children. Instead of taking on financial stress because I think we should buy gifts, this year I said no. They understand. It isn’t the end of the world.

Because stuff is just that. Stuff.

And I’m finding that the Christmas season is unfolding peacefully and pleasantly anyway.

If we’re not careful, giving in to the shoulds can lead to feelings of guilt, shame and resentment. And were do we find joy in that?

How about you? What are some of the ‘shoulds’ in your Christmas season that you would like to shed?

Yolanda DeLoach (@YolandaDeLoach) is a member of Wesley UMC and through her writing, tries to remind herself to keep life light. You can visit her at her own site,

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