- Autumn Swain
Lists, list and more lists. My life is full of lists--to-do lists, dream lists, goal lists, family lists, grocery lists, research lists...and so forth. Every day I attempt to work through these lists and in the process I add more to these lists than I take off. For someone who wants to live life to its fullest I wonder how this will be possible with an ever growing list of things to do. Then I discovered a secret…the secret of living life with intention. I discovered how to be at peace with not accomplishing everything, but accomplishing the most important things for that day or that week or that year. Now I focus each day through the lens of this powerful little word: intention. I may have 752 things that I want to accomplish this week, but I prioritize that list and strive to accomplish the most important things for each day. Notice I said important and not urgent. Why is this differentiation so significant to living life on purpose?
So many times we live life in a hurry rushing to the next meeting, or appointment, or the next task for the day. However, when you consider your vision for life, and what you have prioritized for that day to bring you closer to that vision, it becomes more about what is important and less about what is the most urgent.
The definition of "intentional" is being deliberate, or done on purpose. Living an intentional life also means choosing to do that which is uncomfortable knowing it will bring you closer to your goals, your dreams, your purpose. I once heard a sermon in which the Pastor declared that there is strength in the stretch. Just as a rubber band will fly further when stretched, we will also soar to greater heights when we are stretched. This entails choosing to be intentional about our interactions, our decisions, our thoughts, our habits and our actions.
For example, if a person wants to be healthier, he or she has to make choices that support that goal. You can’t just reach for something because it is there, or it's tempting, or everyone else is doing it. One must be intentional about not biting into something that is not supportive of your goals, but to make yourself uncomfortable by refusing to give in to other influences.
The same goes for wanting a world where there are fewer people going hungry and more children growing up in supportive homes. Or what about the desire for people to experience less the feelings of loneliness and depression and more people finding their God-given purpose and living it out. What if you want less people living in physical, mental and spiritual poverty, and seeing more justice in the world. Then be intentional about the choices you make to support your desire, your plan, your purpose.
Whatever someone might be struggling with, people find encouragement in this proclamation, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) However, just a few verses prior the Bible states, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippines 4:9) Equality, justice, joy, peace, reconciliation and more good things come from God, but we have been called to be intentional about seeking these things out. We can find incredible, supernatural strength through faith in Jesus, but we must put our faith into practice using the spirit, mind and body God has equipped us with. So push the limits on intention, on the stretch, and find yourself making greater strides, going further distances, climbing higher heights than you ever imagined.
Don’t know where to start? Identify areas of brokenness or hurt in your community and find out one thing you can do to contribute towards the healing process. Be intentional about learning and experiencing cultures outside your own in your community. Lastly, educate yourself on where there is a need for growth and transformation within your own culture and community. Have fun being intentional!