Blog, God + Spirituality, Personal Growth + Wholeness

Getting Free From Holy S*****!

What I share in this post has not been a sudden revelation. I’ve been pondering this blog post for a few years now. As you fellow humans know (I’m assuming you’re human if you’re reading this), the lessons we learn in life don’t come to us over night. They are like “a slow dawning”, as one friend said to me a few years back. It’s like an “a-ha” moment drawn out over many months upon months (or years upon years, in many cases). So, let’s just say that what I share in this post is one of those slow dawning ‘a-ha’ moments that has been cultivating in the soil of my heart over the past few years… (maybe my lifetime, really) and it’s still ongoing… because, as we all know, we are unfinished beings, ever growing and learning and changing. No human is ever static. And if you are, you’re dead. So, with that said, let’s get back to this post on holy s*****!

I’ve come to the dawning realization that I’ve been should-ing on myself for years.

For the most part, this ‘should-ing’ has masked itself as holiness, all in the name of ‘godly obligation’.

For years I’ve been tripping over a gazillion “shoulds” and “ought to’s” and “you have to’s”.

I don’t know where it all began, this addiction to being controlled by “The Holy Should”. To be honest, (in some ways) I became more bound when I rededicated my life as a Christian in my young adult years. Somehow, I got lost under the weight of (what I believed was) a Divine Being shaking his finger at me, essentially, burdening me with an unending list of things I had to do, should do and ought to do.

onlydesire_map
[Photo Credit: Cupcake Murder Aftermath (CMA) via photopin cc Edits: Alison Lam]

To live with this “holy s*****” is pretty dirty. It’s pretty ugly, really.

I think somewhere along the way I lost the holy vision of freedom and bearing an easy yoke and carrying a light burden. A life of joy and peace and desire — characteristics we see displayed in the life of Jesus.

Somewhere over the years, I lost heart. I lost desire. And the scary thing is that I thought I was “in God’s will”.

It’s been a process, but I’m now (becoming) convinced that you cannot kill your heart, your dreams and your desires and think that you can remain “in God’s will”. God’s will is not a crucified heart but a human heart fully alive! God’s will finds its fulfillment in the spirit of life, not the killing of all desire!

God came, not to kill us, but to give us life.

That’s probably where I got stuck. I mistook the cross of Christ as the death of me, rather than seeing the cross in light of His resurrection and the restoration of the real Alison.

God’s desire has always been about the full realization of a human heart that’s really alive; it’s a dance, partnering human desire with the desire of God himself.

I’m discovering that it is within that partnership of desire that I will discover the joy of God’s will. And that joy is the very will of God.

It’s ironic that the most holy seasons in my life have come when I have abandoned “God’s will”…

…and thrown my hands up in the air, defeated by my so-called inability to discern God’s seemingly confusing-and-foggy-and-impossible-to-discover “will”. And in that apparent defeat, I’ve just decided to “do what I want” and that’s usually right when I’ve walked smack dab into a divine season that has “God” written all over it.

To be totally honest, I’ve hated (what I thought was) God’s will. I have imprisoned myself in a mis-aligned view of God’s will. And you can be sure it has not been a playground. It’s been more like a prison. I wouldn’t take a lot of risks in my life because I was too afraid that I didn’t have 100% certainty of  His will… because, somehow, I was always missing it. Therefore, always failing (in my eyes).

What’s the fruit of that kind of belief? Unceasing condemnation, that’s what. And you know what? That sounds a little bit like hell on earth…

Hell doesn’t glorify our Creator. And yet I’ve been living in hell for the glory of God, for years!

Because of this warped view of God’s will, I’ve endured some seasons over my lifetime getting stuck in the limbo-land of indecision. And believe me, that is not a pleasant place to get stuck in. The more I would try to figure out God’s will (as though it were a specific dot on a huge, overwhelming grid), the more miserable I became!

I became paralyzed in my indecision. Totally stuck. Unable to move forward. And very confused.

Even though I was trying to walk on “the path of life” (chuckle… choke…), I was stuck trying to make decisions based on what I thought might be right or wrong, or what I deemed was good or bad. So, even though my intention was to eat of the tree of life, I kept tripping up, thinking I *SHOULD* know what the “right” thing to do was. I started making bad decisions (essentially, not making any decisions at all) because I was stuck in this torturous limbo of not knowing what the “right” thing to do was. So, I became paralyzed by the fear of “missing it”, the fear of failing at “God’s will”. And believe me, this is a sure-fire way to end up in limbo-land. And lemme tell you, that place is HELL.

No one thrives when they are in limbo.

I looked up the meaning of the phrase “in limbo” and I choked on my laughter, when I read the definition:

“a region of the afterlife on the border of hell”

WOW. Isn’t that interesting!

Who wants to live on the border of hell?! No one! I certainly don’t! But that’s exactly where I had been living!

The dictionary also described “in limbo” as:

“an indefinite state of being on hold”

Yes, that would describe the state I’ve been in  through various seasons of my life. Being on hold and not really living or moving forward–yeah, that really is quite a miserable state.

We as human beings were made to fully engage in all aspects of life. So, being “on hold” and floating around “in limbo” certainly feels like living on the edge of hell. And if there’s anything I’m learning, as children of our Heavenly Father, we are called to bring heaven to earth, and you cannot do that if you’re stuck “in limbo”. If you stay stuck in limbo, you’ll most likely bring hell to earth. Owwww….

Leaping Out Of Limbo

So, how do we get out of this hellish prison? Well…. I have no flippin’ idea. Did you think I had the answers? My friend, there really is not one clear-cut path out of this limbo-land ruled by The Holy Should. I can certainly say I won’t be telling you what you should do to get free (wink wink). I know we all want a list of rules and an action plan to get the hell out of this hell… but life doesn’t work that way, gosh darn it!

I’m definitely not the one to ask. My journey out of these should-y beliefs has been a very messy one. I’ve thrown out a lot of the tidy rules, the “you-should-do-this’s” and and “you-ought-to-do-such-and-such’s”.

It’s all a load of should.

So, I guess there’s only one thing I’ll ask you:

What do you want to do now?

What first step do you want to take to leap out of limbo and get your butt out of the should-y prison you got yourself locked into?

What well-intentioned-but-toxic beliefs do you want to let go of?

What would you do if  there were: No oughts. No shoulds. Only desire!

onlydesire_map
[Photo Credit: Cupcake Murder Aftermath (CMA) via photopin cc Edits: Alison Lam]
  • Brian Lam

    “To do some things out of pure desire.” Something so natural and strong about that phrase! I do have one comment to make, though, on ‘shoulds’. While I believe more than ever, I think, that at the deepest part of ourselves is that “pure desire”, I have found as I get older that certain small, routine, daily ‘shoulds’ have helped and served to (healthily, I think) question and refine that deeper, more independent, more permanent centre and hearth of “pure desire”, crackling away in my heart. Thanks, Ali, as always.

    • Yes! Not doing away with all daily, routine shoulds. I agree. This blog was somewhat of a generalization of a change of foundational heart motivation, rather than a doing away of all necessary good things in place in life that are responsibilities and things that are good and right and helpful to a good and healthy and whole life. Love you, brother!

  • Nathan Sinclair

    Thanks, Ali. Yep I couldn’t agree more. I’ve recently started seeing how people trip themselves up when going for the goal. It’s as if they are not on the goal at all. Which only makes me ask, how can I free them from the doubts that they have? I don’t mean that I take that and make it my mantra, to try free everyone from making that mistake. I just mean that partnership with God is exhilarating. I do think that He allows things to happen to us, to form and test us, but this testing, like you said, is not designed to produce shoulds in us. it is rather the yoke that releases, and the bond that frees. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I’m in a bunch of “what ifs” right now and this has made perfect sense to me.

    • Very true… partnership with God is exhilarating… I would add to that… partnership with God should be fairly natural and not over-thought. We over-think things to death. It’s good to just do some things out of pure desire, and then you look back and you realize God was smiling all along…