New year. Same me?
There is this thing that many people do at the start of a new year. It’s like a redesign of the “New Year’s Resolution.” They think about a certain word that becomes a theme for them for the year. It is a different perspective for people to focus on one facet of their life that they want to strengthen, improve, grow, or deepen. Maybe this is something that you do and have done before it was cool. Maybe it is something you recently saw on Instagram and you love the idea so this year is your first go at it. Maybe you’re like me and are somewhere in between. I know that I am in good company when I say that my life is very full, and there is always something to be done. Right now, I have three baskets of laundry that need to be put away; a sink full of dishes that need to be done; paperwork that needs to be completed for my private practice; a grocery list to be surveyed and then shopped for; my oldest child needs raisins for a school project; my youngest daughter needs medication picked up from the pharmacy; our child care provider is ill and took the day off, so when I get back to work tomorrow, there will be so much to do. Every where I look, every where I go, there is always something needing to be done. I like it that way as I enjoy being busy. But it can be overwhelming at times, and honestly it can steal away the enjoyment in life, as I am hyper focused like a laser beam to move on to complete the next task. So, when I was thinking about what I wanted to focus on in 2019, it was an easy realization for me to make that “being intentional” would probably be beneficial. And, as my “I need to dissect this and figure it out,” mind typically does, I started to think about, “What does it mean to be intentional?” The concept of “being present,” “being mindful,” and “being intentional,” all run in the same vein. They are concepts that have been a part of religions, world belief systems, and therapy concepts that are now spilling over into mainstream culture. It is quite trendy to use one of these phrases. You can search on any cute cyber boutique shop and buy bracelets, necklaces, keychains, coasters, sweatshirts, and phone cases that have some variation of this theme printed on it. But while it may be a hot word and trendy saying this year, I find it interesting that most people, myself included, struggle to identify what it means in real, every day life, to be intentional.
What does it look like when I am actually living intentionally? There is a difference in being “intentional” and “intentionally” doing something. I know, I know. You think I’m crazy that adding a “ly,” to the end of the word changes it. Well, it does. Being “intentional” refers to a thought process. Think of it as “I am thinking about what kind of coffee I would like to order,” or “I am weighing my options about whether this piece of chocolate it worth the calories on my diet right now,” or “I need to make a choice about which direction my blog is going to go and if I really want to try podcasting.” (Just a real life glimpse into the thoughts of Megan right now.) However, to do something “intentionally,” means that you have already thought it through and made the decision to go for it. You’re all in. Dedicated. Jumping in the deep end. So, if I want to live an intentional life, there are three parts: First, I have to do a lot of thinking about what and why I want to do something; Second, I have to do a lot of thinking about how I am going to be intentional. And third, I have to make the decision to follow through; and then I have to do it. Can I just tell you this is the bane of my existence, and the existence of pretty much every person alive? I intend to do so many things. I intend to eat healthy, work out, spend time with my kids, love my husband until death do us part, be financially savvy, change the world, invent Keto pasta and bread that tastes like the real thing, write a blog that gets followers, write a book people (besides my husband) will buy….. But all of these ideas and dreams mean nothing if I don’t put in the work to actually make them happen. So the question I have to ask myself is, “Am I willing to put in the work?” Am I willing to discipline myself to: eat healthy for my body, work out, so I can loose the weight I need to? Am I willing to spend time with my kids even if I have so many things to do? Am I willing to love my husband even when we go through difficult seasons of marriage and life? Am I willing….? This is where the rubber of my thoughts meets the road to my dreams. I, along with every person on this earth, was created for a purpose. Proverbs 16:4 (NASB): The LORD has made everything for its own purpose. Even the wicked for the day of evil. If I want to live an intentional life, I need to figure out my purpose.
And I can either walk in the purpose that God created me for, or I can walk in the opposite direction.
It’s a pretty black and white decision that each of us has to make. But how do I figure out my purpose? I like how Dr. Tony Evans says it:
“The highways of experience, opportunities, passions, and abilities are all designed to lead you to the intersection of your purpose in God and your calling for your life here on earth. Where these four things intersect—experience, opportunities, passions, and abilities—your purpose starts.” When I look at the experiences I’ve had in my life, the opportunities that have been given to me, and the passions that have grown inside my heart, I find my purpose:
I believe that I was created to speak truth, encourage others, and allow God to use me as one of His many tools and vessels to bring healing to people.
It is why I became a counselor. It is why I am passionate about drug court programs and the accountability they can provide for people who really need it. It’s why I can be so blunt and honest. It is why I love to sit and hear peoples stories over a cup of coffee or a lovely homemade meal. It is what guides me when I interact with my husband, my children, friends, and strangers. And it is why I am walking in the gifting of writing and speaking. I think it’s beneficial for me to look at the experiences and opportunities I have had in my life. To take a look at the passions that are deep within me and the abilities that I have been bestowed as well. I think it’s beneficial for all of us to do this. Once we get that piece somewhat figured out, the road becomes a little more clearer to see on this journey of life. All my experiences and opportunities have led me to this point. They have either fueled my passions or hindered them, but I have learned so much from what I have been through, and each piece is a stepping stone to where I am now.
And the same is true for you. You may just not realize it yet. My focus this year is to be intentional. In my health, my marriage, with my children, my blog, my counseling practice, and my friendships. These things are my passion. I want to be intentional and achieve the dreams that I have in each area of my life. I have got to be intentional in my thinking, planning, the choices I make, and then actually following through. My next few blogs, I’m going to be sharing about my weight-loss and journey of me learning how to focus towards health rather than trying to meet society’s ideal standard of beauty. Lucky for you my friend, you will get to watch my journey of uncovering all these facets in my life this year. And, if you find yourself wanting to dig a little deeper yourself, I’ve included some journaling prompts that have helped me in my personal journey that can guide you on your quest, which are listed below, under "Megan's Messy Memoirs".
I’d love for you to join the conversation with your friends and in the comments with the “Coffee and Conversation,” prompting question, ending each blog as well. You can use these tools to begin your own intentional thinking about your life; or you can use them to go deeper with a friend over a good cup of coffee and dessert (my personal favorite and recommendation!). I would love to converse with you about your thoughts and how you are living (or maybe not living) an intentional life! Until next time.
in love, grace, and an abundance of caffeine,
Coffee & Conversation: Tell me about your experiences, opportunities, passions, and abilities. Brag on yourself just a little bit. Megan's Messy Memoirs
JOURNALING QUESTIONS: • Who is someone you know that lives an intentional life? What does their life and interactions with people look like? • Do your experiences, opportunities, passions, and abilities match up to what you are doing in your life right now in one of the following areas: As your occupation? As a family member? As a believer in Christ? In your hobbies? • If you could do “that thing,” as your job right now and know you’d "be okay," what would it be? Why? What is a step you can take today to move towards it? What is hindering you from being intentional and moving forward with doing something you love?