Well, it’s taken me about two months to get to the place where I could share this word. Mainly because I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down this road. I feel like typing this out is a big commitment to myself to follow through with being more intentional in my life.
So without further distraction or rabbit trails, here is my word. Intentionality.
It’s a noun meaning:
- the fact of being deliberate or purposive.
- the quality of mental states (e.g., thoughts, beliefs, desires, hopes) that consists in their being directed toward some object or state of affairs.
I found it very interesting that the philosophy behind this word was the quality of one’s “mental states”. In my opinion, this means that the vastness of my thought processes in the multiple areas that my thoughts go to. The demands of my life as it is as a mom, wife, and teacher all need to be directed. To have purpose. To have directness. To have actions.
Thoughts are one thing, but having action from those thoughts are the other.
I think to have true action in our lives we have to let go of some things in our lives that don’t bring fruit. We have to deem a life of self control. We have to guide our actions towards profitable material to gain what we haven’t had before. You can’t have a different life without making changes. Nothing endures but change. And that has to be ok. Growth can’t happen without additions and subtractions. Sometimes, we let go of what was so that we can have what is to come.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
This past year, I have spent time wrestling with God. Perhaps not like Job did, but wrestling just the same. It’s funny to me that we as Christian humans usually think we have it all together. Or at least we need to look like that. The other thing that just baffles me about Christian culture, is the need to not insert ourselves intentionally into other people’s lives. Thoughts like, if we do ask someone how they are doing, the may think they are ‘in trouble’ if it’s a church leader asking. And the church leader may think someone will get offended. Or do church leaders have the reputation that they talk about parishioners amongst themselves that sounds like gossip when found out and so therefore parishioners feel they can’t trust church leaders? And then here we are with a whole bunch of people isolated to their troubles by themselves because they just can’t find community. They can’t find the one person they can trust. What have we created?
Or here’s my other thought. Have we just forgot to be intentional? Has the busyness of life just thrown us into routine so deeply scheduled that there is no room for intensionality to live? Have we just plain forgotten that in order to reach people for God-which by the way is pretty much the only reason we are here on earth. We have to make room for that.
A few years back, I had a run in with a dear friend. Sadly, it didn’t end well. We fought over a difference of opinion and I think that hormones (I was pregnant at the time) and disappointment over the changing scope of our lives as they had been played a major role in things I said or implied. I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom and crying out to God. Asking him why in the world this was happening, when I had a really good thing going. God reminded me about Job (and that really this wasn’t as bad as that in anyway) but that the one person I would always have to cling to was Him. This challenge was a molding of my faith to see where my trust was lying. Was it in a friendship held dear, or was it in the Lord to have His hand on me through this storm?
God takes us through seasons and times. In Ecclesiastes 3:1 it says
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens…”
I think that God allows challenges in our lives to mold us. He intentionally, as Gen. 50:20 says, allows challenges to mold us for good, for “the saving of many lives”. How in the world can we relate to people in the world if we don’t have a testimony of God’s faithfulness and goodness in our own lives? How can we share the good news with people today, in 2019, if we don’t have a personal relationship and story of God’s grace in our own lives? Therefore, we are going to walk through some tough things.
These seasons we walk through are seasons of intention. Sometimes, God is intending we walk through a time of alone, not so much loneliness, but alone, so that we can get to know Him more deeply. Perhaps it’s a season of building friendships with others and building a community. If it’s a real community, they will always be there whether you have hours to dedicate or whether you are in a different season. Perhaps that season is time with your kids. Perhaps it’s getting used to a new job or role at work and you have to spend extra time learning and growing to go where you are supposed to be.
There is a time for every season. Each season isn’t the same. But each season bears with it intention. You have to approach each season as one with intentionality for your mental state. What needs to be your focus this year? What needs your attention? Is it your kids? Your relationship with your spouse? Work? Friendships?
Back to the story about my run in with my friend. God gave me a verse to hold onto through that season and the years that followed.
Proverbs 17:17 NKJV
A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.
The parallel in the Living Bible says it this way:
A true friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
I had a choice to make. I could believe that we had a true friend heart connection and that one day, God would restore our friendship. Or I could walk away and that person could be a part of my past. I felt God burning these words in my heart:
“ I will have a restored relationship with ____”
I felt so strongly about this that I wrote the words down in my journal that day. My hand shook as I wrote them because honestly I was flat out mad. This was not what that verse promised. It promised that in hard times, a true friend who stick. I was baffled.
But God wasn’t telling me it was all going to be ok right that instant. He was asking me to have faith. Writing it down was an act of belief for me. I didn’t use a pencil, I used a pen. It was pretty permanent not only on paper, but in my soul.
Fast forward six years. We just had coffee the other day. While we don’t see each other all the time, we get together often. There are four of us all together who grew into motherhood together. Most of our kids are the same or similar ages. We’ve known each other the better part of 20+ years. There are 14 kids between us too. The seasons have most definitely changed. There are times when we have spent more time together and there are years we haven’t. We are still trying to find time that works for everyone for a moms only trip. But ultimately, they are some of my closest people. I think I now get why many seniors can make friends with lots of people. And why distance doesn’t seem to separate their lifelong friends. I think it’s because they have grown accustomed to the seasons and their changes, but have kept their friends in the loop. It may not be daily for coffee anymore or a check in once a week. But that’s not what binds them. It’s the history they’ve made together, it’s the differences amongst them that have helped the other grow and see life in various ways. Some friends are for a season, but some are for a lifetime. Intentionally cultivating the right relationships in the right season is important just as much as it is knowing which relationships are the life long ones and tending to them deliberately through each season.
I think at the edge of Intentionality is this thought of sacrifice. What do you sacrifice for someone else? What do you sacrifice to grow closer to God? What does that sacrifice really look like? Serving others is what I believe is the core of a life lived with intention.
What is your word this year? Have you really studied it out? What is it going to take to live out that word this year?
“ Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”