Duty or Delight?

This morning I was awake very early, thinking about relationships. Does that ever happen to you?

In particular, I was reflecting on “liking” and “loving” and “conscientiousness.”

Some of us, perhaps more-perfectionistic souls, strive to do what’s right. We have a noble sense of duty and conscience. We are actually quite earnest and sincere. It may come off to others as being picky, or too-rule-based, or a slave to “shoulds.”

But, we honestly mean well, really!

When we sound moralistic or too “goody-two-shoes” or even “Pollyana,” we are not actually trying to be superior or condescending at all. We just have super-sensitive consciences, and, for me, at least, an awful vulnerability to feel guilty.

The way this plays out in everyday life might be our willingness to go the extra mile a lot just because we can. We don’t want to feel bad later if we avoided being helpful when it was in our power to help. (Sure, I’d love to solve that problem for you, do that task, accomplish that detail, work that shift, accommodate those needs–list is endless.)

The rub comes in when this “noble” pattern descends into dutiful codependent helping that we come to resent. Then we hurt relationships. We also know we are not prioritizing our own other callings enough. We can feel trapped by expectations.

We can even do this with those closest to us. We can “fulfill obligations,” but lose the joy and delight of generous serving and honest two-way interactive loving and knowing those dear ones God’s given to us.

So, Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Spouse, Aunt, Uncle, Grandparent, Caregiver, Teacher, Friend, Artist, Worker, Manager, Leader, Organizer, Adminsitrator, Volunteer, Homemaker, Professional or not:

You and your own priorities matter. Self-Care is not a sin. You can say, “No” sometimes to some requests. You are not God. Everybody needs some rest, some breathing room, some way to be “off-duty” for at least a little while every day, every week, every month, every season, every year.

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