INTENTIONAL! huh, not what you were thinking? It’s not a very “powerful” word…or, is it? Let’s look at some synonyms for “intentional”:
~ voluntary ~ intended ~ considered ~ premeditated ~ studied
So, if we look further at the word “intended” a word that pops up is “engaged”. Or, if we look at “intent” we get “having one’s mind, or attention, deeply fixed” ~ as in absorbed.
So, why this word and where am I coming from?
In early December, I attended a retreat ~ it was for business purposes, but had a lot of tips on “self-care”. This retreat was called “She Shows Up” and was about learning to be authentic, engaged, and intentional in not only one’s professional life, but in one’s personal life, as well. For several year’s I have struggled with trying to find balance between my professional and personal life, and have been making great strides in doing so – especially within the past year, but I was feeling like some sort of battle was going on inside of me thinking I needed to keep my professional and personal life so separate that it was like my “world’s” were colliding! And, to be honest, there were days when I truly felt like I had physically been in some type of collision because of the emotional turmoil I was creating within myself for getting over committed, which led me to feel like I was losing a battle of not leading an exemplary life. Yes, I said exemplary life! You know that saying that goes something life, “live your life so that those who do not know God, come to know Him because of knowing you”….meaning that those who don’t know God want to know Him because of how awesome your life looks. Well, sister, many days that was driving me crazy because I was so focused on what I LOOKED like, that I was losing my focus on being authentic ~ being real! So, in my reflection time during the retreat and for weeks after, I was feeling compelled to be “intentional”. And, before I go any further, let’s visit the other two words from the retreat:
“authentic” = being “real”…..I’ve worked for a lot of years with a very dear therapist, mixed with a lot of conversations with a great mentor (my mom!), and a lot of prayer to be authentic. Oh, there are days when I fall back into the “image trap”, especially when every piece of my life seems to be falling apart and I don’t want to be vulnerable or emotional and I really don’t want anyone to see that I’m really falling apart at the seams, so I work like crazy at keeping a firm upper lip, straighten up my spine, allow the chip on my shoulder to rise up, and get an a-t-t-i-t-u-d-e, which all ends up causing me to become even more emotional and more vulnerable by the end of the day because I’ve been abrasive, shallow, stuffed my emotions (which usually means I’ve made bad food choices, too!), and I end up in a fetal position in my bed with tears flowing and a lot of regret from not just allowing myself the grace of having a bad day and being r-e-a-l = authentic. Why do I do that? God already knows I’m not perfect – He made me! And, He already forgives me for my clumsiness. That “image trap” is so NOT God, but IS so SATAN! Satan loves it when he can be a thief and rob us of joy, from being focused on God, or being honestly transparent and vulnerable – of being real! So, not that I have won this battle, but I’m getting better at it and on these days I now say out loud, “Satan go away”! Yes, people have probably heard me, but oh, well….there are worse things! And, I follow that up with reciting to myself “If God is for me, than who can be against me”! It’s a great chant….try it!
“engaged” = committed …. this one is the easiest for me! I’ve come to learn that one of the reasons I love dogs so much, especially German Shepherd’s is because of their loyalty. I’m very loyal and I’m very passionate. When I am engaged in something, I’m “all in”! Several year’s ago I made a commitment to myself that anytime I encounter a person in my life I want them to feel engaged, like I am completely focused on what they are saying or doing. I want others to feel like they matter. I want to live, and love, out loud! I am intentional about saying “I love you” to my family and friends. I am intentional about praying for others. I engage others and I engage myself! No, I’m not being conceited. But, engaging in myself is helping me to live out loud – shine for Christ – and is helping me to accept myself. In order to take care of my emotional, spiritual, and physical health, I have had to make a commitment – to become engaged – in intentionally choosing what is best.
So, back to “intentional” and how that fits in with how I’m celebrating the Lenten season. To be intentional is to be purposeful and I’ve been so inspired that my 15 year old niece purposefully chose to give up social media for Lent to have more time to focus on being in devotion. In today’s society and the importance of social media and “image”, giving that up is huge! Maybe I’m shallow, but giving up social media wasn’t at the top of my list of things to give up because it’s not all that important to me to begin with, and I really couldn’t come up with something that would make me spend more time in devotion by giving it up. So, as I was reading some of my morning devotional blogs I ran across this “reverse” lent thing in which it is recommended that you “DO” something INTENTIONAL for lent. Now, let me side bar here for a few minutes….
so, as I mentioned in December the word “intentional” graced my brain. I can not begin to tell you how many times since then the word “intentional” has been read or heard by me since then. It’s like God is trying to tell me something! At the retreat in December all attendees were asked to write three goals and an action plan. One of my goals was to become more healthy by losing weight and exercising more. At the end of the retreat each participant was recorded saying their goal while stepping across a line….so, mine went something like “I commit to becoming more healthy, by stepping into exercising more and making better food choices”. Now if you know me personally, you are probably thinking well, that’s not much of a big deal for Jackie, she’s always saying that…and, believe me, I had some serious conversation with myself to that fact, as well. But, this time it is different. It’s like God said to me, “Jackie, please be intentional to choose your health over anything”. And, for me, that’s not only with food and exercise – it’s also for stress management, self-acceptance, balancing my time so I have more focus on Christ, etc….
so, back to Lent….so one of the suggestions for this “reverse Lent-thing” is to select one person for each day of Lent – 40 – and write them a personal message to say I am thankful they are in my life and what I love about them. So, let the journey begin….I’m on day 5 and so far I have written to my mom (she kinda’ needed to be #1…after all she did give birth to me!), my niece, one of my best friends, my husband, and I can’t say who #5 is because I just wrote them today and I don’t want to blow the surprise if they read this before they receive their note! I can say that, so far, I’m loving this journey. I’m loving thinking back over the year’s how my “person of the day” has impacted my life – been intentional about caring for me! – and how this journey is giving me the opportunity to “intentionally be intentional” about that person! More so, I believe that being INTENTIONAL about other things in my life is truly what God is calling me to be for 2014. I am being intentional and participating with an organized Bible study group. I am being intentional about my schedule and intentionally keeping some margin in each week for my husband.
So, sweet sister, have you been inspired? I hope so – after all, that’s the whole reason I write this! This writing thing isn’t about me – it’s about inspiring women to feel more authentic, engaged, hear the word of Christ, feel the power of Christ, and for me to be ….. intentional for Him!
So, what are you going to be intentional about? Please let me know by commenting and I will pray for you and you becoming “intentionally intentional”! 🙂
be blessed, sisters! 🙂