Mind Matters

by Rev. Robert H. Tucker

Number 261
September 15, 1997

"You should..."


With my final year of graduate school ahead, the very well-paying summer construction job was exceptionally attractive. Additionally, being on the road and away from family, I would have free time at night to perfect the Hebrew begun the previous school year. That good intention died, as did I, each evening at 8:00 when, after fourteen hours of hard physical labor, supper and a half-hour of cursory conversation with co-workers, I managed one chapter of a paperback Western before my eyes involuntarily shut.

That experience left me with great admiration for those who, in off-work hours and with much determination and persistence, obtain their education through night school. Impressing itself on me, even more, has been a lingering, but distinct, disinclination to engage in the 'should' and 'must' mode of religious discourse and of parental communication.

For example, an individual's exhaustion can come from a mind-deadening or self-image destroying job. But, it can also be the result of tumultuous family tension, overwhelming debt, or putting up with persistent physical pain. Or, it can come from the depths of boredom or sponge-like depression that soaks up energy. Unfamiliarity with the interior, as well as exterior, life of another makes "You should ..." too often a means of harassing, manipulating or carefully controlling another. For, I am not always certain of my own "purity" of motive in stating a "You should ...."

Of course, I do continue to judge others. That can't be avoided, and after all, Jesus judged others as well. But he also warned of seeing the splinter in another's eye and missing the massive log in my own. With even the tiniest eyelash in my eye making it hard to see anything, his point is well made.

Now, having greatly reduced the 'should' and 'ought' burden that I apply to others, it's time to be kinder to myself as well.


--Robert H. Tucker
15 September 1997

© Robert H. Tucker, 1997.
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