The dishes piled up as always. My ears prick up to the sound of my boys arguing and one of them crying. Oh dear. Internally (and physically) my body slumps at the thought of giving one more “mommy correction”. I’m well aware of the lack of attention I have paid to my writing. Besides, my hubby is going to arrive home in less than fifteen minutes. Dinner needs to be made. The kids need a bath. Not to mention a quick tidy up of the house.
Inwardly I groan. I realize another day has gone by where I haven’t really drunk a lot of water nor have I looked after my face with a bit of cream. That podcast I wanted to listen to – yip, didn’t get to that either. I probably haven’t read a book in over a week and if I did it was probably half a paragraph.
I fight the urge to let my mind wander down the pointless rabbit hole of questions why I write or want to minister to others. The feeling of being out of control hovers nearby like an annoying fly which won’t go away.
For many of us, life is like this. A plethora of events that seem to overtake us faster than the speed of light. We have all these dreams and aspirations which mean a lot to us; but, the time, energy and perseverance to seem them to fruition is almost a figment of our imagination. We know it can be done because the people we admire and look up to seem to be pulling it off to.
So what are you and I missing?
We are missing the specific answer to the question how to live intentionally?
In situations like the one I describe above, you and I are faced with a choice:
- Allow our circumstances to define our life
- We define our circumstances
The first choice removes our power and replaces it with overwhelm, helplessness, and disempowerment. On the other hand, we retain our power and God-given authority when we tell our circumstances how they are going to impact our lives.
I don’t know about you but I’d rather keep myself in a position of empowerment and authority.
How to live intentionally:
Intentional living is all about knowing the kind of life you want to live. The beauty with this is that it is unique to you so there are no right or wrong answers. You get to decide how you want to live life-based on your priorities, goals, and dreams. Amazing!
What kind of life do you want?
The answer to this question is foundational. You don’t drive your car without having a destination. The same is with life. You need to have a clear idea or goal that you are working towards. If you don’t…well…you’ll be living life like a tumbleweed and that’s not God’s plan or heart for you. (Read my post on having a vision for your life and year here)
As a mom, I have a clear goal in my heart about how I want my boys to turn out as adults (respectful, well balanced, healthy mindset, lovers of God and His people, etc…). This goal directs all my parenting choices. I need to be intentional about living in the present so I can model to them God’s heart, healthy living, and be emotionally available to them.
I have a clear goal for my marriage and my life. Some of it is not clearly defined and that’s ok too. As long as you and I are heading towards a destination we are on the right path.
God adds clarity to that vision as we walk this journey with Him. He elaborates on those parts relevant to our lives today. The details are superfluous. What’s most important is heading in a direction in line with God’s heart? (God is all for happy marriages, families, and an improved relationship with Him so if that’s your goal then you’re on a great start 🙂 )
What small steps can you start doing to make your dream life a reality?
Once you have an idea of the kind of life you want to live, you can begin breaking it up into bite-size chunks. My mom always used to tell me to climb life’s mountains one step at a time (I tend to want to take one massive leap to the top). We get to where we need to go by putting one foot in front of the other. A lot of steps equals a big leap.
Today, you may choose to focus on the blessings you have in life. Or, you may work towards 5 minutes of time for yourself to spend with God. Maybe you want to dedicate one Saturday a month to take your child on a “date” (this could be stargazing in the garden or ice-creams at the park). You may even decide to spend one hour every evening on building your business.
Whatever your dream, find ways to make it happen today. One small step regularly and consistently is all it takes.
What boundaries do you need to put in place?
Ah, boundaries! A beautiful gift yet challenging to put in place.
If you look at nature, you’ll see how God has placed boundaries everywhere. The ocean waves don’t cross over the invisible boundary on the shoreline (let’s not debate hurricanes and tidal waves here 😉 ). The seasons don’t jump and change out of order. The sun and moon know when they are to rise and set. Everything God created and put in place has a boundary to obey.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6
How to live intentionally requires you and me to put boundaries in place that help us move towards our dream life. This may be keeping your mobile phone inside while you play outside with your children or chat with your spouse. It may mean saying no to quiz night so you can focus on your business. Or, getting up 30 minutes early so you can exercise at home.
Boundaries are not just for other people to respect. Sometimes you and I need to have boundaries with ourselves. We can’t do everything and we can’t be everything to everyone. People won’t always like our boundaries. That’s ok. They’ll learn to deal with it. At the end of the day, a healthy boundary gives you a healthier life (and no its not selfish).
How can you live in the present?
Intentional living means being present. This takes a lot of work. Being present means being emotionally available and aware of what is happening around you right here and now. It requires you and I take a deep breath to focus on our behavior and thoughts.
How to live intentionally means we have to listen to our thoughts. Stop those thoughts that are not helping us move towards our dream life (say no to negative, critical thinking. You can read my post on that here.) Focus on your behavior – what kind of a person do you want to be?
Living intentionally means to deliberately choose your response to your circumstances. You get to choose whether your response is going to be positive and full of faith or negative and despairing. It means to purposefully go after all that God has for you.
An intentional life also comes with sacrifice. You and I can’t always have our cake and eat it too. Often, we need to prioritize and let go of some unhelpful and some good stuff in order to make way for the great and fabulous. This may be in the form of sacrificing time, money, and energy to get to where you want to go.
Back to my story earlier….
I take a deep breath. Holy Spirit gently reminds me of my choice to live intentionally present. The focus has to be largely on my family because that is His will for me today. I can’t think about five years down the line or even about tomorrow. I need to focus on today.
I realize each choice I make right now is going to impact my next moment in time. I can choose to respond in frustration or in love (I admit to the frustration choices too…). Love is my heart motive and goal. A life packed with feeble yet purposeful attempts at mature, unconditional and deep love to all around me. It doesn’t matter what people think or how they perceive it. After all that’s their responsibility.
So, I choose to wack that annoying fly of control. I put aside my need to focus on me, myself, and I. 😉 For the next several hours, I can be present and available to my children and husband. If I meet their needs today, tomorrow will be much better. If I choose an hour with God before I sleep, my tomorrow is surrendered to Him. Finally, if I take time every day to write and minister to others, then I have spent time building God’s Kingdom with Him.
I choose to be ok with the imperfections and mistakes are guaranteed to be made in the last moments of today. This is my version of how to live intentionally. Its messy, imperfect yet beautiful and full of God’s presence. Maybe, just maybe, this is my dream life. Tomorrow I’ll make a whole lot of intentional choices to keep moving forward towards all God has promised and planned.
How do you want to live intentionally?