Returning from the gym one evening, my husband and I had planned to wind down slowly. My vision of sipping a post workout smoothie and reading on the back porch took a VERY wrong turn with one whiff of the blender. (Sidebar: My sweet, sweet friends, please remember to take the blades out of the bottom of a blender after using it and clean them…your sense of smell will thank you later!) Choosing water instead, I plopped down in the wicker chair next to my husband’s and flipped open my Bible. I had no agenda. Nothing in particular I wanted. Nothing I was anxious to read. I just wanted to be close to God after a long day. The first verse I read has really stuck with me. It said, “The wise woman builds her house; but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.” Proverbs 14:1
If you’re anything like me, you really enjoy your freedom and independence! You also relish quiet downtime and enjoy your space [so much so that your dad bought you a sticker that says “I need my space” at NASA]. So if you’re anything like that, this blog may be for you. And, if you’re not like that…well, I hope you stick around anyway! Today I’m sharing about my struggle with obligation. I hesitate to share because a) it’s not fun to admit you’re having a hard time with something [Surprise! I’m human!] and b) this can be kind of a sensitive topic. It may not make any sense to you right now what I’m talking about, so let me lay some ground work.
My favorite thing about college was my freedom. I was the executive manager of my own time and decisions…THE queen bee if you will. When opportunities arose to hang out with friends or sign up for something new I would, and if I didn’t want to…than I didn’t! Simple. I’m very orderly and all about routine, but I have a wild twinge of spontaneity. So, I’m a bit of a free spirit at heart.
Being married though, I’ve been made acutely aware of this new feeling of obligation. It’s strange really. This feeling that life is no longer about me or my time frame…ouch…that hurts more on paper than I imagined it would. Suddenly, the obligation of adulting seems to suffocate the excitement out of me and stretch me in far too many directions. It has made me feel really bound up at times.
So what is it about obligation? I looked up the meaning of the word and here is what I found:
- Something by which a person is bound or obliged to do
- Arises out of a sense of duty or results from customs
- To bind or oblige morally or legally by a contract or promise
- To pledge, commit, or bind
- Morally bound, constrained
Interesting huh? At its core, I think I really felt bound and constrained to unspoken expectations. Myself being the largest culprit, holding myself to an impossible standard of perfection. [This is something I’m putting a priority on addressing, because I can only imagine how crazy things will become once I take on the role of mom someday.]
My sweetheart of a husband always patiently listens to me as I think aloud analyzing and overanalyzing. If you’d over hear me chat about this with him it would sound something like this:
Babe! I want to be free to live life slowly…to see opportunities to minister. To be free to say no. To buy a new dress for a date without fear that one dress will put us over budget. Free to enjoy hard work and doing things for myself. To say I’d rather read a book than be around people. To be jealous for my your time, attention, and opinions.
Free to be independent. Free to sing and be goofy. Free to travel with my you more. Free to take a day to stay in my pjs and watch movies and tv. Free to completely turn my phone and computer off on occasion, going off the grid. Free to bake and experiment. Free to work out because I want to. Free to want to keep to myself sometimes. Free to be bold, share my opinions at other times. Free to set boundaries. Free to not pretend to be something I’m not around certain people. Free to give grace for myself and others. Free to speak blessing. Free to be confident. Free to just like reading God’s word and loving on Him. Free to have FUN! Free to BE ME!
A lot of the oppression of obligation is based on things I’ve seen or heard…things I feel like I HAVE to do or be, something other than me. It can come from movies, social media, or maybe for you it comes internally from your friends and family. I’m a bit of a people pleaser. I’d never want to hurt or disappoint anyone. Let me tell you though, feeling obligated to everyone and everything is exhausting!
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” – John 8:32
I really had to come to the end of myself. After pouring my heart out to God about this, He gave me some verses that really set me free. I’m not saying I’ve mastered this, but God is definitely leading me to a life filled with more peace and simplicity. We aren’t meant to live life comparing and trying to measure up to an impossible standard. It’s ok to be different. It’s ok to not be perfect 100% of the time…there is nothing wrong with you! So I leave you with this prayer that I prayed myself recently and some verses that set my heart at peace. If you’ve ever felt this way, know you’re not the only one! It’s the truth you know will set you free – freedom is yours to experience today. Sending my love!
“I love you Lord and know you hear my heart. I surrender right now my pride and the impossible standard I’ve been holding myself to. I surrender my desire to want to constantly please others and meet their expectations f0r my life. Please help me break the oppression of obligation that’s been suffocating me. Please help me to be selfless, but also have balance and not neglect my personal health and well being in the process. Help me to be more present in life. To not miss out on life because I’m so busy doing what I think I HAVE to do all the time. Please bring me balance, security, peace, and freedom. Amen“
“The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners” – Psalm 146:7
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” – Romans 6:14
“Do you know that to whom you present yourselves slaces to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness.” – Romans 6:16
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:2
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” – Romans 8:6
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Chris has made us free and do not be entangled (burdened) again by a yoke of bondage.” – Galatians 5:1
I will stand fast in the liberty which Christ has made me FREE and I refuse to be entangled again for a yoke of bondage.
When you are laying in bed thinking of tomorrow, what comes to mind? I see life in checklist form. I make a physical or mental list and stick to it. In fact, it actually really bothers me if I have outstanding items left unchecked at the end of the day. I’m task oriented, what can I say? Continue reading “Living a Present Life”