A Five Minute Guide to Intentionality
In that arresting moment between the alarm going off and my head finally lifting from the pillow I feel as if I’ve already lived a full day. I begin to, unfortunately, see the self-centered voice nestled in my noggin unsheathing a smorgasbord of guilt trips and bargaining, speckling the back of my eyelids with wearying sentiments.
“Hey you!,” it shouts. “Your next move will define the entirety of your day.”
From then on it’s a mental race to what ritual will gain me greatest success, what quiet time procedure will bring me maximum intimacy with God, what to have or not have for breakfast that will somehow make me want to eat well for the rest of the day. In a matter of seconds I’m convinced I have the power to ruin the whole trajectory of my life.
Then the sheer amount of frustration forces my head back to my pillow. The crescendo of expectations leaves me tapped of the passion I so crave to mark my life by. I had disguised my desire to be good enough with the word intentionality.
I may feel alone in this, but I’d venture to guess there are some heavily introspective people out there too. People who constantly wonder if their lives are aligned with their purpose, people who wonder if that purpose is viable and attainable. Some may get a sinking feeling at the mere word purpose, because they’re wondering what the heck their's even is.
So, for the sake of my own mental fortitude, I got to reimagining what intentionality looks like for me (Hint: self-deprecation gets you nowhere). Let me ask you something.
How do you impart intentionality with others?
Here’s what I noticed when I answered that question myself. When I desired to be intentional with friends around me I encouraged what I saw as beautiful, quality, unique, substantial and worthy in them; I spent time with them; I acknowledged the positive ways they impact me and others; I spent resources on them only to appreciate what was already there.
So why did intentionality with myself only make me ruminate on what I’d like to improve (my body, my skills), what I’d like to change (my body, sticky habits) and what I’d like to remove (my stress, my fatigue)? We often give others the grace we rarely extend to ourselves. So I started my morning contemplation with a new lens.
How do I appreciate what is already there?
I spent some serious amounts of time with myself, as many did during quarantine. But it took awhile for me to enjoy all that time. To reckon with the positive impact I have on others (we all have some!), to encourage myself and to spend resources in ways that celebrate me. That meant buying a new pair of shoes for all the walking and running I had started doing, budgeting for lattes, buying a new book about something I wanted to explore and budgeting time to let me be rather than just do.
I wrestle with the goodness God has laced in me, wanting to be made of different stuff. He is teaching me that intentionality is perfected when I acknowledge I am good enough.
Intentionality isn’t seeking what can fill in the spaces, it’s embracing the gaps because it means I’ll fit in unexpected places.