A friend and I have been trading emails recently on the subject of intentionality. We've mostly focused on discipline, but in parenting, and I would add all of life, intentionality is key. It's hard to be intentional in many things, never mind everything. It requires a steadfast awareness of your life and all that you're putting your hands to and all that your mind thinks. On a day-to-day or even minute-to-minute basis, it's near impossible to have that kind of focus all the time. I fear though that we (and most especially me in this past year) have lost all focus and have given up intentionality in our lives.
1. an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result
2. the end or object intended; purpose
a. purpose or attitude toward the effect of one's actions or conduct
b. purpose or attitude with respect to marriage
Living with intention means consciously knowing your thoughts and understanding your actions. It's seeing where your energy is directed and how your money is spent. Living intentionally has the potential to eliminate bad habits, wasted time, lazy parenting and poor stewardship. It's about living a disciplined life.
The disciplined life is certainly something everybody should strive for, but when you're knee-deep in laundry, toys and dirty diapers and your to-do list is longer than Santa's Naughty or Nice list, it's hard to see where discipline comes in except for the occasional time-out or other behavioral management tactics. But discipline comes after deciding to be intentional and is the action of being intentional. We all know the saying, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." It takes more than intentions to live a life with purpose; discipline is what follows intention.
So how will discipline help me in this new year? Back to my resolution... Becoming more intentional in my living. This will require a new diet for my soul. Though I look at myself in the mirror and see the need for a physical diet, I want to go deeper and change my daily nourishment in more significant ways. First, my media consumption needs to be stemmed. For me, this means less internet - it is my foremost addiction and time-waster. I am a voracious researcher, and the internet is my personal library, and thanks to email and facebook, it is also a big part of my social network. This is not altogether a bad thing, but if I don't have discipline over this area of my life, more important things fall by the wayside all in the name of research or faux socialization. Second, my quiet time will become more consistent; my nightly choice of reading will begin with the Bible as opposed to my historical novels or "brain candy." Plugging into the omnipotent, omniscient Power (no, I'm not talking about the world wide web) is the best and only thing I can do in becoming more intentional. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..."* Third, becoming intentional in my life includes my duties as a homemaker, parent, teacher and wife. More consistent meal planning, home organization and in-depth homeschooling are goals of mine in the coming year. This includes much more focused time with the children, concentrating on bonding opportunities. I also look forward to more date nights out with my hubby! Fourth, my prayer life needs a boost desperately, and I am determined that my day will have set times where I take the time to sit and pray. I was inspired by this blog posting and am hoping to have the kind of discipline/reminders this blogger refers to in structuring her routine around her prayer times. The first thing that comes to my mind when I read her "reckless experiment with prayer" is, "That is sooo not me!" I'm not Catholic, I'm not Orthodox, I'm not Muslim and I'm not Jewish - and I'm jealous. Each of these religions have built-in times of prayer throughout the day - calls to prayer which help remind the masses or body of Christ to stop what they're doing and worship God. I'm not sure how I'll do it - I don't have a big church bell reminding me to pray, and our town doesn't have a loudspeaker for all to hear the call to prayer. I'm not meaning to get legalistic about it - I do believe and experience the prompting of the Holy Spirit to communicate with God, but like everything else in my life, I'm craving some sort of structure. And if it starts out or becomes rote, then so be it. At least, I will have talked to God more in each one of my days than my usual week.
Now I know I will not remain intentional through every precious second of this coming year. I will have my lazy days, my sick days, my tired days, and my "I-just-don't-want-to" days - there will be plenty of those! I will fail as a mother, wife and friend in the new year. I will not be the kind of Christian I want to be, and God will not always be proud of me. But a resolution is just that: a decision meant to spur us to action; to transform in little or big ways so our lives become changed, hopefully for the better.