When it rains, it pours, right?

Seems that way to me lately.  For those who do not know, I have a wonderful little girl named Chelsea.  She is a wheaten terrier who was supposed to be my husband's dog but instead claimed me.  Unfortunately, she has gotten sick with some genetic disease of her breed: inflammatory bowel disease and lymphangectasia (a protein losing disease affecting her bowel).  She is terminal, but in a way to lessen the blow, I remind myself that we are all terminal.  We just know now that she only has 2 years or so and what the cause of death will be provided she doesn't get hit by a car or burn to death in a house fire.  Yeah, I know, unpleasant thoughts, but this is where my head is.

Where my heart has been is a swamp of guilt.  There are the usual guilts-walks not taken, playtime missed, puppy years resented, but there are also the current guilts-money spent.  A friend encouraged me not to allow it to weigh me down, but we have spent so much money to treat this disease before the diagnosis that I am sad.

I love my girl dearly and will miss her terribly when she is gone, but she is still just my dog.  Shouldn't I have used that money more wisely?  I could sponsor more orphans.  30,000 kids die every day from lack of food and medical care.  I cared for a dog in a costly system that will die despite my very best efforts.  I have missionary friends caring for the poor and sick and struggling in Africa that could have used that money.  I have friends locally who are struggling.  I am in the swamp of guilt.

But, there is always a but as I process issues of my heart, I am not sure if I am supposed to be in that swamp.

It is so easy to should ourselves after the fact.  I shouldn't have bought that.  I should have taken that job.  I should have listened to my heart.  Where does shoulding ourselves come from? 

It definitely isn't from love.  That voice that tells me I am not enough: not competent, not loving, not smart, not wise, not good enough is not loving, is not God.  His is the voice I strain to hear but the one so often drowned out in the crowd of shoulds.

We should each other to make conformity the rule, to give ourselves security in chaos, to make ourselves feel better.  No one else is shoulding me, though.  My husband is shoulding himself.  My vet is shoulding himself.  Why is is so difficult to love our imperfect selves in the midst of imperfection (when perhaps we are most perfect because we are simply ourselves)?

Dad doesn't should me.  He wraps His arms around me as the breeze caressing the trees and loves me.  He knows my heart is broken and cries with me.  He doesn't tell me it isn't that bad, that I am overreacting, that this is the way it is.  He hears my gasps of sorrow and whispers simply that He loves me.  He is my umbrella protecting me from the shoulds, from those lies, from the conformity that leads only to sin.

I have not ever heard Him should me.  Isn't that weird?  Of all the people in my life who could, God has never should me.  He seems to just love me...and understands my heart wants to be His, even if I struggle to act in that way, perform in that way that I "should."  I laugh because, again, there is no should with Him, only me, a knucklehead, who is a mess but who loves her Father dearly and a Father who loves her even more.

I do what I can, and it is often misguided or incomplete, but I do.  And I learn as I process my messes, so that sometimes I can do better when I come to a similar situation.  No matter how I do, I always have my Dad, tho, my umbrella from should storms.  Thank you, God!


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