I picked up this book by Lizzie Skurnick, entitled That Should Be a Word. Lizzie has coined words such as “Canvict: one imprisoned by the inability to say no,” “Ruinvent: revamp oneself for the worse,” and “Maditate: becoming angrier by trying to calm down.” It’s the perfect book for the latrary: that basket of quick-lit one keeps by the latrine (my word—Lizzie inspires me!).
There’s this buzzword I’ve been hearing for awhile. I’m not sure who coined it, but everyone is talking about “Intentionality.” In blogs, ads, videos and posts, people put this title on completely different experiences. The search for a workable definition prompted me to make up my own words.
Knowtion: Acting as though something’s crystal clear when you don’t have the slightest idea
Webspin: Looking up a word only to find a hundred vaguerations
Reasonate: Weeding through disparate definitions until you give up and create your own
At last, Wikipedia saved the day with a soundbyte I could chew: “Intentional living requires one to be aware of one’s fundamental beliefs and to be willing to make an effort to have their behavior reflect these beliefs.”
Living in such a way that my actions and reactions line up with what I believe? That sounds like “integrity,” one of my favorite words. Living in line with what we hold true is a top happiness strategy, a duhcision—a choice that is the only worthwhile option (how is that not already a word?).
Why doesn’t everyone do it? Why don’t I do it more consistently? Most importantly, what can I do to live with intention, to move my heart and hands in unison?
First, I need to identify my beliefs. I need to sort through the things I believe in my head and find the ones that are connected to my heart. Those core values are the most powerful ones, and I know I can put them into action on a regular basis. I also need to examine the Limiting Beliefs that pop up and set me back. By the age of three, we have formed a sense of whether or not we’re loveable, good, smart or important. Instinctive reactions are being constructed in us as we decide whether life is good or people are mean. These ideas can knit themselves into a security blanket or a pair of boxing gloves. As adults, our happiness depends on unraveling the threads to see what is woven into our behavior. If we give ourselves this attention, we can create a life that doesn’t just happen to us, but reflects who we want to be.
If you don’t think you matter enough to give yourself this time, please stop right here. Say this out loud. I don’t care where you are. Say it out loud.
I am God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10 says so). The One who made heaven and earth made an enormous sacrifice to show me how much I am loved. If He loves me that much, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of me. I matter.
Say it again.
My life has meaning. My heart needs to beat. My spirit will thrive. I matter to God.
Knowing we were created with love and purpose adds some depth to the idea of living with intention. I’d like to spend a few weeks developing this together. I promise it will be worth your time. Let’s go in steps. We’ll start with a couple of exercises to help us identify a handful of core values which, if lived out, would make us confident when facing either a mirror or a crowd.
This week, answer the following questions:
- What books, movies or music get you talking for days? What is it about them that speaks to you?
- What activities or conversations make you feel the most alive? What about you in those situations is being reflected?
- Is there a scripture, role model or motto you try to live by?
- What situations make you irritated or angry? In those situations, what values are being violated?
I’ll be answering questions right along with you, so we can get to know each other better.
- For me, books that deal with human struggle and God’s love touch me on a spiritual level, and when they teach me science or history I hadn’t known before, my intellect gets fired up. That’s why I adore Philip Yancey’s Where is God When it Hurts? I actually love everything he’s written, and I’m currently savoring Vanishing Grace? Dr. Caroline Leaf’s Who Switched off My Brain? was challenging but interesting. I felt super-smart reading it, and increased my ability to help others. I also enjoy reading about missionaries, such as Kelly Minter’s book Wherever the River Runs: How a Forgotten People Renewed My Hope in the Gospel. Books like Kelly’s carry me to new places and cultures, and they stir my values of faith and giving.
2. The activities that make me feel most alive involve nature or creativity. Playing music, drawing, writing and enjoying the outdoors—all of these light me up with awareness of our genius Creator. I also dig doing tangible things to help others, such as working in a community garden or writing to my Compassion kids. If you’d like to make a huge impact with just a little effort, sponsor a child through Compassion International. It’s one of the coolest things you’ll ever do.
4. I get angry when people hurt other people or try to destroy the faith of others because they themselves are hurting. I get irritable when people have been given good tools and persist in making bad decisions. I have a judgmental side, and I’ve made progress but I may never be perfect. Even stuff that makes us mad tells us about our values, so don’t be afraid to examine why things upset you. We’ll talk more about that in step 3.
Why don’t you post one of your answers in the comment section below?