I had a lovely dinner with a friend last night. White bean soup. Crusty bread with butter. Fresh cheeses. Heart-warming tea. Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Cups. And delightful conversation. All so good.

I needed the conversation the most; actually, I think both of us did. We recounted Christmas fun (we are both aunts to amazing nieces and nephews) and new happenings. And we shared some new, strange and exciting life events. I was incredibly thankful to be in that conversation, because it was exactly what I needed.

As we started sharing bits of our lives, both of us had concerns. The “what-ifs” and “dare I” and “how will others…” along with “this is very different from how I imagined life.” And she pointed out to me that the word “should” is very dangerous. I felt the below image was very accurate:

I hold firm to my conviction that the 10 Commandments are not “suggestions” or “recommendations” and that if God says something, it is in your best interest to listen and follow. However, I find myself seeing that God says things directly. He doesn’t say, “You should Love the Lord Your God” nor “You should honor your father and your mother.” He simply says “Love the Lord Your God” and “Honor your father and mother.” We humans are the ones who come up with extra rules and expectations; we are the ones that extend what God says into our own comfort zones, whether they be conservative or liberal views. I did a quick bit of research on biblegateway.com and found that a few versions do use “must not”, but they are less popular (who’s ever heard of the “Easy-To-Read” version????) Thus, in the more common versions (ESV, NIV, NASB), the commandment is direct. No “thou must/ought/should” Simply “do not” or “shall not”. I understand that the latter can be translated into a “should not”, but there is something about the word “shall” that is more direct in not wanting us to commit a sin but knowing that we as humans very likely will.

All semantic and word usage banter aside, I was thankful for her insistence against “should” or “should not.” I feel as though my 20s were full of my own insistence that life should be different – i.e. the way I wanted it. I should have been married with kids by now. I should have known at 18 what I wanted as a career. I ought to be a better person/Christian. Ought. Should. Should not. If. Words of regret, guilt and captivity.

While these might be warning signs for going off the path to Christ, they are also ways of distraction. So focused on the rules, expectations, and suggestions of others that life is not lived. There is no freedom to mess up and repent. Always focused on outward behavior and life story rather than loving and serving others so they will know Christ.

But don’t take my word for it. You should investigate for yourself. (Or else I’ll judge you.)



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