Cast off your chains, my friends, the ones that have been weighing you down. On the left wrist, the chain reads “try harder” on the right “do better.” Wrapped around both ankles is the chain of “you are not enough,” it is held together with the links reading: “should.” I should be thinking this, feeling that, doing the other.
Should be spending less, should be giving more. You should have gotten to church on time and been more productive. You should be more, do more. You should get your act together. The shoulds link together and wrap around your shoulders until you are stooped and shuffling along.
Some of these chains have been there so long, they feel as much a part of you as your arms. Some have snaked into your body and wrapped around your heart until it beats to the rhythm of the chain. Shouldshould, Shouldshould, Shouldshould.
Somehow, somewhere, someone taught you to wear these, maybe even wrapped the first one like a scarf gently around your neck. “You are not enough,” it read. But now you dress yourself in these chains every morning, some you even sleep in. Never take them off.
Someone may have even told you that Jesus wants you to carry these chains. They are a testament to Him, proof that you are faithful to your God. But these chains, these thoughts of inadequacy, these are not the things the Lord has for you. Jesus came to set you free from these chains.
Look closely, you will find the shackle on your wrist is unlocked. You do not in fact have to walk around today with the weight of trying harder and harder still. Let Jesus take that from you today. Allow Him to be enough . . . instead of you trying to be.
It may feel awkward, maybe even a little scary at first. New-found freedom usually is. But soon you will realize, that without this chain, the one telling you to try harder, that your range of motion is extended. With Jesus holding the weight of that trying, you suddenly have the freedom to do just that.
Soon you will be dancing to the sound of those chains falling away. The sound of the clanking will cause your heart to dance with joy.
And your heart, oh, your heart, it will recognize the freedom of the falling chain, reject the chain that snaked its way in. It will no longer beat shouldshould, shouldshould. Instead it will beat Beloved, Beloved. Because you are, just the way you are. No shoulds attached.