This week I was again struck with this truth: We have to be intentional. General speaking the ideas I have, relationships with those in my life, good rearing of children, my health and the health of my husband and children, my business, the laundry, etc do not get taken care of on their own. Hey, sometimes I wish they would, but the truth is it takes being intentional.
I am working with my older child on establishing chores for her to do. From there we will build on this foundation and give her more or different ones as she gets older and her younger sister is old enough to begin with her chores. She is very resistent. It has taken lots of talks and discipline for her to realize that this is part of being a family. We all have roles that are important in maintaining the harmony in our home, but beyond that these roles also teach us how to relate to others and fulfill our God-given purposes throughout life. Can learning to make her bed, clean up her toys, and put some silverware away really be that important?
Yes. You see, her common protest is, "I just don't want to." I usually reply with reminding her in some way that there are going to be many times she will not want to do something that she is required to do. There are a lot of times I have to do things I do not want to do. This is a part of life, and we have to learn to press through these times. How much sweeter the things we do love to do are when we have been responsible and taken care of even the things we don't enjoy but must do.
But this is a choice. We have to choose to be intentional. Perhaps you have made a New Year's resolution to "get healthier" or "lose weight" or "start exercising." How are you doing with that? What makes you continue to do it? What makes you fall off the wagon in that goal? We have to choose to be intentional. Why do so many aim to take care of themselves only to feel guilty and knocked down when they don't follow through? Often it is because we don't have a plan and/or we make the choice to not follow through with that plan.
Have you heard the phrase, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail?" I have come to grips with that fact that many cliches are actually true. I know it can be hard to admit that sometimes, but seriously think about it. When I have had a plan of action, followed through with it, and then accomoplished my goal it is so encouraging, so invigorating, so thrilling! However there have been many other times that I wanted to do something, but just kind of threw myself out there without a real plan. Failure was usually the outcome in those instances. Or even if I didn't fail, the process of pressing through was much more difficult. There was no order or everything was a mess or it was as if I were trying to push a car up a hill in the snow with no gloves and no snow shoes (There were many cliches I could have put here, but I decided instead to make up my own - lame, I know).
Now, I must mention that sometimes we do make plans and we still fail. Yes, yes. This is also a part of life, isn't it. I don't like those times, but I know there is always a reason and a lesson in the face of these failures. As a recovering perfectionist, the idea of failure would paralyze me. I would much rather just not be intentional as opposed to taking action and failing. The Lord has helped me with this tremendously, but I do have to make this choice daily to continue to walk in His truth and not my own because sometimes I am really wrong. Sometimes I am actually believing a lie and not remembering His truth.
Furthermore, there have been times when I did make a plan, was intentional about it, but it turned out that my plans were different than the plans that the Lord had for me.
"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD" (Proverbs 21:30-31).
At first glance, these scriptures can cause one to be ticked off by this. Doesn't that seem a litte controlling of the LORD? However, this is actually such a wonderful truth because I can trust the LORD to thwart any plan that does not line up with His. Wow! I am so thankful for this because I can drum up some spectacular plans. As I have matured over the years, though, I have realized that I really do not want any plan to succeed that is against the LORD. I really do want what He has for me because He always knows what is best and wants that best for me. I have to chose to line myself up with Him to receive it. He is so gracious and compassionate to guide me in this process. Sometimes I am very resistent - like a toddler.
I have an easier time, though it still takes thought and a plan, to be intentional with the things I love, desire, and enjoy. It is so easy, though, to let distraction in to steal away my focus. I hate when that happens. Perhaps you know what I mean?
How much more focus and determination does it take then to be intentional with those things I do not like, don't want to do, and really even loathe at times? What will happen if I really take hold of those things and take action? The little things like my floors getting mopped more often and the shelves being dusted will not be a big deal. But even more importantly, my children will have an even better environment in which they can learn and flourish, people in my life who may annoy me (or really do annoy me) will still feel God's love through me, my husband will feel my appreciation of his hard work, and I will experience the fulfillment that comes with taking initiative, being intentional, and letting the Lord be my strength and my guide.
None of us are going to be perfect at this. I fight this battle daily. Even to write this post right now has taken the choice to be intentional. After this I am going to have to be intentional about making a plan for dinner and for much before that when my children are done napping and my husband comes home from work. I want to thrive in these areas of everyday life and not let past failures or the fear of future failures distract or paralyze me.
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12-14).
This takes humility and it takes intentionality!
In the near future, I will post about intentionality in love, thankfulness, spiritual warfare, diligence, and anything else that comes up as we go. I hope you'll join me, and I would love to hear from you. In what areas is intentionality especially challenging for you?