Some Thoughts on "Should"

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Photo Credit: Ruben Ortega via Unsplash

“If you are who you should be, you will set the world on fire.”
-       Saint Catherine of Siena

You heard her. If you are who you should be. Not the person other people want you to be. Not the person you might wish you were.

But how do we know who we “should” be? It’s rather ambiguous, wouldn’t you say? “Should” is an idealized future: always where we aren’t, never where we are. “Should” is tied to messy choices, mistakes made, and external expectations. It’s the redemptive, abstract “other thing” we could have chosen that is somehow, always, better than the reality of where we are right now. “Should” shames.

It also searches and panics. Because “should” refers to “the plan,” doesn’t it? Our purpose and our passion. Those elusive principles we spend our lives searching for.

“Who should I be??”

Here’s a radical thought:

What if who we should be, is who we already are?

Generally speaking, I probably "should" be and do a lot more things. I should eat more vegetables. And exercise more often. And practice more humility. And stop overthinking. And not take things so personally.

But all that's overwhelming. So I will just focus on who I should be in this moment: a writer, spinning a message from my heart to yours. But I even manage to complicate that with the many mutations of “should.” I should be more eloquent. Or maybe I should be simpler in my speech. Like a poet. Some people are so good at that. They have such a flawless grip of the English language, and have managed to domesticate it in innovative ways. Those kinds of people, I think, are real writers. I should be more like them. I shouldn’t have to try so hard to convey real and honest things.

Actually, all I really should do… is write.

Who you should be is who you already are. Don’t you understand? (I’m speaking to my heart as much as I am to yours here). There is no one else who could fill the void your soul would cast if you did not exist. And because of that… well… you have to be you. You should be you. There’s nothing else for it.

And this “should”… it isn’t a striving toward anything. It’s a relaxing into reality. A loosening of your grip.

It was Saint Irenaeus who said, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.”

So be who you are. Sharpen the gifts God has given you. Because that is who He has intended for you to be. It’s who you should be.

Be who you should be. And go set the world ablaze.