intentions pt II

 

There’s a flip side to intention. We all know it, feel it, fall into it, fall foul of it.  This intention that I speak of is the intent of the heart behind a word, an action, a comment, a deliberate act.  I’m pretty sure you have at least once been offended by something or offended someone.  I have countless times.  My thinking is this, if the heart that the word, or action, or comment, or deliberate act came from was inclined towards your good, then its unfair at best, to be offended by it.  What do you think?

The problem then is how do I decipher intent? How do you know what is truly in someone’s heart in that moment.  Sometimes it’s easy, especially with someone you know well, or be around frequently.  You can observe patterns of behaviour, so if they say or do something thoughtlessly you will know its out of character and hopefully be gracious enough to believe the best and choose not to be offended.  And yes I did say choose. The close people in my life are those whose hearts should be most visible to me, and yet they are the ones that I’m most quick to be offended by. I get that it’s the investment, the feeling of greater betrayal when someone I love appears to speak words, or act in a way that’s not for my good, but why am I so quick to assume that their heart is inclined against me and not for me?  Surely those hearts that are closest to mine I should judge most accurately and graciously. I know its the past that causes the greatest obstacle to my discernment. My tender heart has a memory like an elephant.  If I’ve been wronged deliberately before, then my heart remembers.  It takes mighty will power on my behalf to wipe the slate of my heart clean. Will power or more like the knowledge that I’ve been forgiven much (grace power as I like to call it) that helps me forgive and makes me forget, and yet it feels even when I do manage to forgive, like there’s still a dent left behind on my heart.

If it’s someone we don’t know well and its not an obvious deliberate act to hurt or offend us, then why do we bother being offended.  Honestly if we have to search and try to discern the intention of a less significant person’s action towards us, should it warrant our offence?

I don’t want my heart to be like an elephant with those I love.  Wisdom tells me to forgive, forget and choose to believe the best in the hearts of those I love and who love me.  As for all the other many, many incidences where I could choose to be offended, my intention is to try very hard to let them go.  If its deliberate I’ll acknowledge the offence, work it through, forgive, and move on.  If it falls into the grey area of unsure, maybe they did, maybe they didn’t then God give me grace, the grace to let it go.

I long to dwell in a grace-filled, forgiveness-fuelled, discernment-driven place where my heart is a perpetual clean slate.

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intention

It feels to me like I’ve heard myself say the words intention, intentional and intentionality a lot lately. Being intentional is not just making wise decisions in the moment it’s choosing the wise path in advance. Intentionality is plotting the direction of your life, as opposed to the ‘on the spot’ wise decisions that keep us on the road that we’ve chosen, like steering the car, the constant adjustments that we make without thinking. But its futile to steer well on the wrong road! Intentionality chooses the right road. One of the qualities that I admire in my personal heroes is intentionality. It seems to me that those who exercise intentionality bear its fruit as good outcomes in their lives.  A healthy marriage, a focused mind, a disciplined life, generous living, a greater capacity for more.  Yet to live intentionally feels at odds sometimes with the world we live in.  A world that says, instant satisfaction is the goal. Act now think later. If it feels good then it must be ok.  Pleasure is the ultimate goal.

To live intentionally is to see beyond the instant into the realm of delayed gratification.  We deny ourselves now for a greater reward later.  Or we make wise, calculated decisions now knowing that the results will come further down the road. It’s the age old principle of sowing and reaping.  You sow, you wait, there is new life, growth and then you harvest.

Wisdom shouts intentionality.  It screams make good decisions now that will lead to a fuller life later.  The book of Proverbs is full of it.

Wisdom says intentionally put safe boundaries in your marriage to protect it, safeguard your mind from fantasies and images that will lead you on a path that will eventually feel impossible to get off. It’s putting up strong defences now rather than crossing your fingers, hoping for the best and having to clean up the mess later.  Our marriages exist in a storm of temptations and assaults from the world, the enemy and our own selfish lusts.  If you knew there was a storm coming your way in the natural world you’d be nuts not to take the precautions necessary, like putting down sandbags, securing your property or moving to a safe place.  So I’m on a rant now but you’d be mad not to take the precautions needed to safeguard your marriage from the storm that swirls around us. Build the wall of open and honest communication. Put up the fences of healthy boundaries around your relationships with the opposite sex, you know yourself how high they need to be, and don’t be worried about looking weird or offending others, a healthy marriage is more important. Get out the sandbags of wisdom these are what you fill you mind with.  Intentionally and daily or at least regularly pull out the gold in your spouse.  Speak out the good. Encourage, build up, ban criticism. OK enough on marriage for now, I could go on. Sorry one thing – enjoy each other 🙂

Wisdom says intentionally live a disciplined life (honestly I’m still battling this one!!) because it will lead to a full life. Plan to eat well, exercise regularly, study the scriptures daily, pray EVERYDAY, get enough sleep/rest and intentionally fill your life with life-giving friends.

Wisdom says be careful with your money, not so it becomes your security instead of God or not just so you can have more for yourself but so you can afford to be generous to others. Intentionality with your money is as simple as setting a budget and sticking to it.

Wisdom is asking God to enlarge your capacity.  It’s intentionally running after the things of God and desiring more of Him in my life, not so I can grow fat with His goodness but so that I can give more of HIm away. It’s allowing God to stretch me and grow me beyond what I think is possible, even when it feels too difficult and the gap too huge.  It’s permitting Him to bend me to His will when I feel like I might break. Trusting that if He needs to break me that’s ok because He needs to remake me again.  It’s staying in the race when honestly I’d rather lie down and give in. It’s in those times, that the decision made in advance to finish the race, to not give in, to stay standing, in those places that God increases my capacity for more.  This intentionality leads time and time again to my growth.

It must be turning 40, well I’m blaming that for a lot of things at the moment, but being intentional about the next 10, 20,30,40 years of my life seems very pressing right now. I can look back very clearly at the last 20 years and see the depth that came from the intentional decisions I made and that spurs me on to be even more intentional in the next how many years I have left.

September…

September. Routine. School uniforms. Timetables. Homeworks. Packed lunches. Being organised. N.I.G.H.T.M.A.R.E.

This September has crept up on me a bit like Christmas normally does. I felt pretty sure we had another week to go before the dreaded month. Like everyone else I was still patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for the sunshine and had started to convince myself that we would have an ‘Indian’ summer, lulling myself unconsciously into maybe even looking forward to my most dreaded month.

Previously I’d assumed that most of my problem with September lay with my last minute.com organisation; last year that lead me to almost crying in M&S on the last week of August trying to find school trousers to fit my 3 sons in the melee of picked-over-scrag-end stock. But this year I even managed to stock up in July before the 20% sale ended. Result. Stationery was purchased early August, traditionally by Granda Ivan who has a stationery addiction that I fear he has passed on to me and at least one of my boys, along with his sweet tooth – but thats for another day. School shoes, trainers, school bags and sports kit. SORTED.

Last week I wasn’t dreading it at all. I thought the super-new-organised me was ready for September. The weekend passed without even a whiff of nervous anticipation. It waited to hit bang on 7am Monday when my alarm rang out. Aghhhhhh the expectations began to pile on. Be on time. Uniforms pristine. Lunches that they like and are healthy. EVERYTHING to remember. That’s just at home. Then there’s work, where September is our new year. Not just reinstating the old routines, there are new routines to introduce.

Over breakfast this morning, with a close friend who LOVES September (I seem to have accumulated quite a few of those) we tried to analyse my ‘problem’. We didn’t get too far to be honest we had way too much to catch up on, however I did acknowledge that I don’t feel like I really have a problem, in fact I’m secretly a little suspicious of those who really really love this season. This is how I’m wired. My favourite days are those with no plan, no routine, just a sense of hours ahead yet-unfilled, possibilities endless like a series of rolling green hills, or a meandering path with nooks, crannies and luscious surprises around every corner. No schedule, no agenda, just sweet time and space to breathe. Reminds of the words, “He leads me beside still waters and restores my soul’, in my mind those still waters are surrounded by meadows that go on and on and on. Like sweet un-planned time simply with Jesus. Summer is far from filled with days just like that, but they are much more likely to occur then than during term-time.

My best attempt to describe September is it feels like a very tight harness, that I get to throw off for the summer, and squeezing back into it is uncomfortable, tight and constricting, a bit like wearing new high heel boots after only flip flops for 2 months.

By 2 weeks in the harness it will become more familiar and by October it will be like wearing my glasses every day I won’t even feel it. And I’ll intentionally find my “moments of still-water-restoration” in the mix of my organised full life.

So if you know me in the real world give me an extra dose of grace for the rest of the month, and I promise by next month I’ll have conformed to the routines again only dreaming of an escape to a favourite type of day far from September.

Hello world!

So I’m dipping my toe hesitantly into the sea of blogging. I’ve toyed with the idea before but worried either that I’d say too much or would find nothing of worth to say at all. I was too comcerned about what people might think but I’m on a journey to dispell the power of others opinions so here goes. A few disclaimers all the same

  • The wisdom in the title is most definitely not a declaration of any I might possess.
  • However I deeply value wisdom therefore I desperately long and pray for it.
  • Information, learning, intelligence sometimes accompany wisdom but they are not a prerequisite for it.  The springs of wisdom that I have drank from have come sometimes from the most humble sources. That’s why it’s worth searching for. Look beyond the obvious.
  • Proverbs is my main book of choice when it comes to wisdom. Proverbs 1:20 inspired the title of this blog.

http://m.youversion.com/bible/more/Prov.1.20

So that’s my first one done. Be back soon.