“The Crossroads of Should and Must” and Much more…

This series of events has become a pattern for me. I have been coming home late from work, grabbing a snack and plopping down for “a few minutes in front of my small television to watch something to relax me before going to bed…” Ultimately, I fall asleep sitting up sometimes with my contacts in or sometimes not. Startled by an unknown something, I awaken to see some YouTube video playing and immediately wondering how long I had been asleep. I try my best to remember the last time I looked at a clock and do the math. Two? Three? or four hours? Four. It felt like much less time that I had slept.

Last night, I repeated the pattern. After a long shift at work, I arrived home and convincing myself that this time would be different, I promised self to only stay a few minutes on the couch. Well, I am not sure what awakened me just at that moment, but four hours later with my eyes screaming for oxygen, I wake up and see an interview playing on the screen. Two young folks were talking which did not catch my attention at first. Then I honed in on their conversation. They were extolling the benefits of getting the right amount of sleep! Great, as if I did not feel guilty enough, here I wake up on the couch when any normal person would have been in bed getting the “right amount of sleep.”

Next, the lady began to say that when she get the right amount of sleep her dreams were vivid and real and in some ways she felt held keys to her wake hours. She described a sequence of events where she found an apartment which she had dreamed about over and over… Now, I am intrigued. The young man interviewing Elle Luna spoke about her new book. My mind raced, this lady has a book? I grabbed a pen and wrote her name down hoping to search for the book after getting more sleep. Yet, I could not stop watching the interview even after peeling the contacts out of my dry eyes and brushing my teeth.

I paused the interview to search for the Elle Luna’s book. “The Crossroads of Should and Must – Find and Follow Your Passion.” I restarted the interview to hear Elle describing the Should as what we thing we need to do to please others and the Must we do being driven to satisfy something inside of us. This exploded on the inside of me as an Ah Hah moment. I stopped the interview again and ordered the book for my Kindle. Again, I promised myself to read it after getting more sleep.

However, I succumbed to the urge to just read a little of the book. The rest of the interview could wait. I began the book realizing Elle Luna shared the introduction in the video. The words on the screen were like magnets drawing my eyes and engaging my mind as I flipped each page forward. She explained the Shoulds in our lives help us when we are young to learn how and what we need to know to exist. As we grow and learn our way, not all the Shoulds would apply.

From the book:

“And we might find ourselves as adults still living in a world of Shoulds from childhood that we have not consciously examined. “

That made sense. How many of us do things just to please others when inside we desperately want to do something opposite?

More from the book:

“Are you familiar with Gurdtieff?” asked a friend, “He was a spiritual teacher around the turn of the century. And one day, he posed a question to his students—‘If a prisoner wants to escape from prison, what’s the first thing he needs to know?’

‘You need to know the guard,’ one student said. ‘You need to find the key,’ said another.

‘No, Gurdtieff said, ‘the first thing that you need to know if you want to escape from prison is that you are IN prison. Until you know that, no escape is possible,’”

Mental Explosions! Thunder in the soul! Suddenly, things became clearer. For years, the question has nagged me. “Why do folks stay inside Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF)? Can’t they see?”

The answer – No. Many do not see their plight of restriction awash in the land of Shoulds! The rules are the Shoulds. You should do this if you are one of God’s chosen. You should act this way, think this way, dress this way. You should give your money, buy this house, and have this attitude… if you want to be God’s holy people.

And yet where does the power come from to hold so many folks in the jail of Should? From shame.

Luna, “If you want to live the fullness of your life— if you want to be free— you must understand, first, why you are not free… A prison doesn’t have to be a physical place; it can be anything your mind creates. What has taken ahold of you?… Our prison is constructed from a lifetime of Shoulds, the world of choices we’ve unwittingly agreed to, the walls that alienate us from our truest, most authentic selves. Should is the doorkeeper to Must. And just as you create your prison, you can set yourself free.”

The author goes on to say in order to remove a “Should” from our life, we must understand it. Otherwise we carry the same burden of choosing what we “Should” do forward into the next relationship or situation. While reading this next sentence my mind added the word “shame”:

“And we leave and walk away, angry, frustrated, and sad, unconsciously carrying the same (shame) of Shoulds into a new context—the next friendship—hoping for different results. But so long as we leave Should unexamined, the pattern repeats.”

The understanding I have is at least two-fold. The prison of belief for those inside WOFF goes undetected for what it is. The guilt, shame and fear used to get members to comply with what the leader says they Should do is the cement which holds the bars of the prison in place for many members, for many years. Members do not see the sub-culture as a prison because of an underlying belief that they deserve the constriction of Shoulds because of their “sin” and could never be free to do what they Must or have in their heart to do. They can’t trust what is in their heart because they are continually berated about how wicked they are. Also, the shame of not doing what they are told they Should do is so heavy and suffocating. I know. I suffered under the shame of Should for many years.

Only recently, have I thought I was worthy enough of doing what I Must. Daring to pursue a course as yet unchartered and not dictated by the whims, demands or decisions of another. My Must or calling is yet undiscovered. Luna gives several simple activities which can help a person discover their Must. I look forward to the journey and recommend this book for those who want to be free from the chains and shame of Should, setting their sights on learning what is their Must do in life.

Just because one leaves WOFF or some other controlling group does not automatically mean they will walk free from the shame and controls of Shoulds. Survivors can be naturally averse to people telling them what they Should do, but don’t allow this aversion to hinder you from seeking what you Must do to be free and fulfilled. Don’t confuse the inward drive or leading for an outward constraint.

In the end, our life under Shoulds will not buy back the lost years. Only a life of doing what you Must will satisfy the soul and nourish the spirit. The journey continues. What is your next step?

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Thank you, for taking time to visit and read this blog. Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. The author is not a licensed mental health professional and encourages those that need professional help to seek it. The intent of the material is to inform and be a resource. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. There are readers at WOFF. Jane told me and Josh confirmed it.

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Scripture references are Amplified Version unless otherwise noted. (Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation ) This is post number 581.

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2 thoughts on ““The Crossroads of Should and Must” and Much more…”

  1. John, this is one of the most powerful posts you’ve made. It really cuts right to the core of why and how WOFF and other organizations can exert so much control over so many people. Thank you very much.

  2. Mike,

    Thank you. I am glad the message came through. The concept gave me a deeper understanding of my own plight and hope sharing it has helped others.


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