Should vs. Want
A devotional by Linda Wood Rondeau
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth."
~John 16:13 (NIV)
~John 16:13 (NIV)
I know the drill. I hear it from my doctor with every visit. Lose weight, eat more nutritiously, and get more exercise. After my physician has kindly reminded me of the benefits derived from healthier lifestyle choices, I make well-intentioned promises of changed behaviors.
I vow to increase fiber, though to me it’s not much better than cardboard. I promise myself I will lose 50 pounds, do aerobic activity for 30 minutes a day, drink eight glasses of water, and consume the requisite servings of fruits and vegetables. I pride myself on my good intentions.
With gusto and determination, I dust off the treadmill, put motivational stickers around the house, and keep a diary of my new healthy ambitions. Sadly, however, my behaviors slowly drift back to my comfortable unhealthy choices within a few weeks. “I just don’t have enough willpower,” I tell myself while pouring my fourth cup of coffee.
Is my inability to change due to lack of motivation? Am I too weak of spirit? “Why”, I reprimand myself, “can’t I do better?”
Perhaps it is because I suffer from the shoulds. I should drink less coffee, I should exercise more and I should lose weight. Every magazine I pick up has more than half of its content devoted to the shoulds.
The problem in compliance is a lack of the wants. Oh, it’s true it would be nice to be as beautiful as Miss America, as athletic as an Olympic champion, and as enthusiastic as a political candidate, but do I have the want for these things? Am I willing to make the sacrifices and commit to the long haul? My resolve wanes because I lack the wants.
Attitudes regarding change are shaped according to whether we desire the change out of a feeling of guilt or whether the change is motivated due to a conviction. The shoulds are a result of guilt; the wants are born from conviction.
Guilt is laden with self-incrimination and self-loathing. It is a heavy burden to carry. It tends to slow progress and cause depression. Guilt may propel us into action initially, but the momentum is difficult to sustain. When we fail, we convince ourselves there is some intrinsic flaw within us that dooms us to a cycle of attempts and failures. With each failure, the desire to try again is diminished.
When we truly want to change, we are convicted to change. Conviction alters our perspective, renews our energies, and drives us toward a positive outcome. Even if a first attempt is unsuccessful, we will keep trying until we experience ultimate success.
What of our spiritual lifestyles? We believe we should read the Bible more, attend church regularly, and give a tithe unto the Lord. Every devotional article we read reminds us of the benefits when we do these things. Yet, our striving toward these goals wean as life’s mundane needs erode our best intentions.
God does not desire us to follow a blind pattern of religiosity. Doing good deeds, merely because one should do them, will produce meaningless exercise that does little to uplift the believer.
God has provided the believer with the Holy Spirit. It is The Spirit’s working within us that will bring the believer to conviction. He places a hunger within the believer that propels us toward God’s word. Rather than condemn our past, He uses our failure as a lamp to show us what our future could be when we walk in obedience. As we grow in our desire to walk more closely with God, we no longer pray simply because that’s what a Christian should do. We pray because our day is incomplete without spending time alone with Him.
Award-winning author Linda Wood Rondeau writes to demonstrate that our worst past surrendered to God becomes our best future.
A veteran social worker, Linda now resides in Hagerstown, Maryland.