Be The Sun

A few days ago, my son jumped into the car.  He excitedly showed me the bracelet that he had made in class.  It said, “Be The Sun.”  He told me, “It is just like your key chain!”
For a moment, my heart smiled.  Even though he didn’t know what those words meant to me, my son had observed and imitated a phrase that had been a life line to me.
Before I carried this phrase on my key chain, I was exhausted.  I spent my days desperately trying to be a good mom, a good wife, a good pastor’s wife, a good attorney, a good friend, and a good person.  As I frantically worked to be good enough, I was plagued by guilt and shoulds:
You should spend more time playing with the kids because they are growing up so fast.
            You should work more and take on some additional projects.
            You should volunteer with that organization.
            You should serve in the new ministry at church.
            You should cook more, keep a neater house, and keep up with the laundry.
            You should be a better wife.
            You should call your friend that you haven’t talked to in months.
            You should be happy and full of joy.
            If you did what you should do, you would be good enough. 
You would think that all of the shoulds and guilt would have spurred me to greatness.  Instead, the opposite was happening- I was resentful, exhausted, and filled with self-loathing because nothing that I did was ever enough.  During my time with the kids, I was anxious about the six loads of laundry that needed to be done.  I could not take on any additional projects at work because I didn’t even have time to address the latest crisis.  While I desperately wanted to volunteer in organizations that had captured my heart, my schedule was already so full that I was late for everything.  As the pastor’s wife, I wanted to be an example of service at the church, but my full calendar left little time to meet and plan.  I knew that I should be full of joy, but I was pulled in so many directions that I didn’t even have time to take care of myself.  I had no time to get my hair cut or even see my doctor for my annual physical.
Never meeting the unending list of expectations took its toll on me.  I was plagued with shame, and I hated myself.  I knew that I was not doing anything well, and I was not enjoying life.  Everything felt like a burden.  I had lost touch with who I was, and I had no idea what I wanted.
When I was at my lowest, I talked to my therapist about my struggles.  She asked me to think about the sun.  The sun does not rise in the morning and think, “I should work harder to warm the Earth.  I should try to light the entire world.  I should shine brighter.”  The sun was made to give light and life to the world.    The sun simply is what it was created to be.
In that moment, I knew that I didn’t need to work harder.  I needed to be me.  My goal was to simply be what I was created to be.  I needed to “Be the Sun.”
Ephesians 5:8 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light.”  In Christ, I am a new creation.  I don’t have to work and try so hard.  Instead, I can let the light that is within me shine on the world.
We all need to stop “shoulding” on ourselves.  When you are beaten down by all of the “shoulds,” take a deep breath and remember that you are enough because you are you.  You do not need to work and try so hard.  If you simply live to be who you were created to be, you can be the sun and light the world.


This post was originally featured at Everyday Exiles.

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