Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Friend to Friend
But the other day a new thought occurred to me: What word am I not going to choose this year? What’s the opposite of contentment in my life? It might seem simple to say worry or fear or envy. But none of those rang quite true.
Then as I sat with my dear friends Suzie Eller and Jennifer Watson doing a Facebook Live video, Jennifer said, “When we take the ‘shoulds’ off the table we find out why we’re really waking up in the morning and our true purpose.” That statement kept ringing in my ears and in my heart long after we stopped recording.
I thought back to a year ago when I sat in a counselor’s office and she said to me with a gentle smile, “You say ‘should’ a lot.” I’d tilted my head and responded with surprise, “Really, do I?” It turned out to be true. I had a secret favorite word.
I should do this. I should do that. I shouldn’t feel this way. The applications ranged from flossing to the big, deep questions of my life. As an unintended consequence, fear and guilt could become the motivation behind what I did rather than love.
As I realized the prevalence of “should” in my life and considered the consequences, I began to ask, “What can replace the ‘shoulds’ in my life?” It came to me that gratitude is what belongs in my heart and on my lips.
For example, I took a nap the other day. As I woke up I thought, “I should never have let myself rest. I should have gotten more done during that amount of time. I should be more responsible.” Then I looked at the sunlight streaming through the windows and the squirrels playing tag in the yard because they know their Maker will take care of them. I whispered, “God, thank You for the gift of this nap. I must have really needed it.” I got up and finished my work.
‘Should’ in my life is a shamer and a trickster, a liar and taskmaster. I have decided that for this year I will not speak its name. Instead I will choose love. I will choose gratitude. I will choose contentment.
What is the word you will not choose this year?
Dear Lord, As a new year begins, I look to You for our hope, joy and peace. Give me the courage to do all that You ask of me. Please also make me brave to not do what isn’t from You. Show me how to walk in grace and embrace Your love for me even more.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What word will you not choose this year? Take a moment to consider that question and write down your answer in a place where it will remind you.
More from the Girlfriends
Holley Gerth is a bestselling author who loves connecting with the hearts of women. If you’d like more encouragement to start your new year, you’ll find it in her latest devotional, Hope Your Heart Needs.