This week I recognized the return of an old pattern. It was the dreaded “have to’s” and they steal from me. Joy, contentment, and peace seem out of reach when those thieves sneak in, and I was grateful the Holy Spirit nudged me. I’m going after those “have to’s” again. They are no match for a changed attitude empowered by the Holy Spirit. Join me if you’d like, through a revised post I wrote a couple of years ago.
The Invitation: A shift occurred in my thinking when I stopped saying “I have to…” I have to pay bills or I have to finish my report for the meeting. “I have to” thinking made things seem like a burden–as if some unknown person was forcing me to do something.
Yet all the things I thought I had to do were part of living out choices I’d made—being a parent, a spouse, a home owner, an employee. And I want to be a good friend, a contributing member of my church and community, and honoring of relationships in my life. Realizing this changed my thinking and I became a volunteer rather than a victim of circumstances.
My heart changed and my language changed. Now I say “I’m going to…” and it makes a difference. It’s part of taking up healthy responsibility and of living with the truth that I have choices. It brings freedom.
I think it’s how Jesus lived. He chose to get up early to be with His Father, He chose to teach and serve, and He chose to go to the cross. He did it all with love and grace, not focusing on how easy others had it. He was a volunteer, not a victim—going about His Father’s business on earth. May we do the same.
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death,
between blessings and curses.
Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make.
Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”
—Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT)
Your Response: Lord, I see that my words and thinking can bring life or death, oppression or freedom. Forgive me for the times I’ve felt burdened by “have to’s” and resentful of all that’s on my to-do list. May I exchange my “I have to’s” for “I’m going to’s.” I want to live as a volunteer instead of a victim of circumstances.
Lord, is there anyplace in my life where I sometimes have a victim mentality—where “I have to” comes up in my thoughts or words?
If so, I repent of that kind of thinking. As I lay down the attitude of “I have to” and take up the choice of “I’m going to,” what changes? (Pause and listen)
How does this affect my relationship with others? (Pause and listen) And with You, Lord? (Pause and see what God has for you as you take up a new attitude. Then respond to God in prayer.)