This is one of the blog posts pulled from Valerie’s personal blog, but wanted to share here because it really captures the tension of being intentional and practicing kindness to oneself.
“Confession time. I’ve tried to write this blog post numerous times and each time, the words don’t come as easily as I thought they would. Each time it comes out feeling more like a lecture than a blog post. Not because I think I’m some expert on being intentional, but more because I’m lecturing myself.
But the reality of being intentional is I’m only human, and despite my best efforts, I won’t ever be able to get to the ideal intentionality I aspire to. Which doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to practice intentionality, but it means I should be okay with knowing I’m going to fail sometimes and that it’ll be okay when I do fail. Sometimes life, emotions and energy levels just require I take a break from always being super intentional.
Even this morning, I intended to write the post much earlier in my day, but as life would have it, other tasks I was working on did not go as planned and I just needed to take a breath break. Plowing through was going to do the opposite of helping me be intentional. It was just going to create for an angry post, rather than an honest free post. So I took a break, ate some nachos (my personal fave) and watched “This is Us” before turning back to writing, and I am much better for it.
Okay, onto being intentional.
I think when we think of being intentional, we tend to mean to mean being thoughtful, proactive, and productive. We typically say we are going to be intentional about things like spending time with friends, or how we spend our free time, or about sticking to a certain eating plan or workout. So I’m going to speak more to that side of being intentional. However, wanting to fully acknowledge that sometimes being intentional does mean being intentional to create spaces for self-care, for the life-giving things and for random exploration and fun to happen.
In general, we think of being intentional when we’ve realized that we want to do more and with our little time, we kind of need intentionality. But when we start to practice intentionality, we realize it takes more than a willingness to be intentional. It takes discipline, saying no (aka boundaries), and faith.
Being disciplined enough to actively choose to read or practice a language for 5 minutes (shoutout to the Duolingo owl) or explore your seemingly far-off dreams (they’re not far-off by the way), rather than mindlessly scrolling through social media (I definitely do this all the time). It means not letting our mental inertia take over and instead actively making choices.
Being intentional means sometimes we need to say no, even to good things. Inevitably we could say yes to everything and live a (very) full life. But adding more doesn’t equate to more time in our schedules (but don’t I wish it did). So we need to learn to say no in order to create space for what we want which 100% includes creating space for fun, spontaneity, self-care, etc.
Saying no and creating boundaries is so hard for me. I’m a people-pleaser and service oriented and am constantly saying “yes,” much to husben’s dismay. But y’all, it bites me in the butt often. Like now. I said yes to helping out at my old job for a couple hours a day to give support while they find someone to replace me. While it’s been super great to stay connected and I’m really glad to be able to support the team, it definitely means I’m limited (in time and energy) in what else I can do with my current ministry job, my small business, friends and family, and space for fun and spontaneity. I’m not reading as much as I want or probably sleeping as much as I want either…
Being intentional requires faith. Faith that saying no and creating boundaries and practicing intentionality will be worth it, and we won’t be missing out on something (#fomo) and/or, even more importantly, that we will be okay with missing something.
So no wonder intentionality is hard. No wonder when we strive for it, it feels impossible. And perfect intentionality is impossible. But we certainly can work towards some intentionality. Because intentionality is what we’ll need in order to grow into who we are becoming – the patient person, the proactive friend, the deep learner, the kindred soul, etc.
How do you want to be intentional? In what areas of your life do you want to see more intentionality?
In the midst of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, need to quarantine and social distance, there comes a new question of what intentionality looks like. For most of us, we’ve been given an opportunity to try out new rhythms, with more time and space to play around with. How are we going to be intentional with our time now? How are we going to be intentional with our relationships? What about our goals?
With all this extra time and space, I’m finding myself being faced with the question of “What do I care about and want to be true of my time in quarantine?” and “At the end of this season, what do I want to be able to say about how I used my time and space?”
For me, the answer is that I was intentional which boiled down into:
Being intentional with the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year and not letting those fall to the wayside
Being intentional with my friendships and relationships by continuing to “see” my friends (even if remote)
Being intentional in allowing myself more room to rest, be still, etc. — this meant shifting my perspective to not be so rigid and have more grace
Being intentional in limiting my screen time
Being intentional in creating and dreaming up new goals that I could pursue during this special season. There’s so much room and time for trial and error, why not go for it?
Finding the balance of being intentional with grace when things don’t work out or when we’re waking up not feeling well, can be hard to find. But I believe we can do it and what an opportune season to figure it out, when there’s so much grace and room for trial and error.
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