Wednesday, June 1, 2016

on purpose

Do you have any words or phrases that make you cringe?  Ones, that when you hear them, your shoulders shrug up your head tilts uncomfortably sideways and you shiver just a bit.  In early adulthood I met a friend who hated the word moist.  Seemed odd to me since that's a word I would use to describe yummy baked goods, but I soon discovered that it was a familiar word to have an aversion too.  You learn new things every day.

As for me, I tend to have similar reactions around buzzwords, words that all of a sudden become trendy and therefore get thrown around by anyone and everyone.  The judgmental part of me can assume it's an act needed to assist in integrating a cool group by proving you know the lingo.  The sympathetic part of me wonders if it's a ruse used to sound as intelligent as everyone else in the group discussing current events when inside you might feel as if you are way over your head.  Of course the majority probably truly do understand and desire to use the phrase because it is the best word for the occasion, but it takes one to know one and as I honestly tend to fall into the first two categories, the third always seems far fetched--transparency at its finest.

When I started college the trendy word was random.  Not like a random word, but the actual word random.  Whether in response to what you did last night, where you were going after class, or who you saw from your hometown, a proper response could always be "whoa that's so random." I vividly remember feeling like I had entered a world of adult conversation and had never felt so inept by my naivete and non world wise vocabulary.  Oh Freshman year...

In my teaching world, the buzzword of the day was paradigm shift.  My principal found a way to work it in every conversation and said it almost as much as piggyback which I may or may not have kept up with by tally marks on faculty agendas next to a hand drawn pig complete with curly tail.

The Christian world is no different.  Though the Word of God is inerrant and never changes, the words Christians tend to bring out of it to focus on, throw around, and share can most definitely change.  One such word that I have self professed to giving me the reaction I mentioned earlier has been on the top of that list for the last few years, at least in the realm of believers I have contact with, and it is intentional or intentionality as some may say.

I understand its meaning, but in the sea of conversations it had been tossed into, commands given because of it, and flags waving to make sure others could see whomever's intentional steps without seeing much action behind the speak, that meaning began to become lost on me.  One day a list, of course a list, was made in my notebook of all the synonyms I could think of for intentional; purposeful, thoughtful, considered, preplanned, intended, designed, and voluntary all lined up and took their places on the page hoping that my stubborn mind would make the automatic shift to those when confronted with "that word" in conversation and I could meditate on that instead.

To be quite honest, it actually worked. Though semantics is a bigger deal than some may think, the real reason it worked wasn't because my mind was focused on a synonym, but because my heart was focused upon all of them.  Who cares what word was used, the care is that the heart was actively pursuing a direction that God called it to go towards.

To be intentional is to do something on purpose, to do something deliberately, and when used to describe our walk in Faith it is quite a beautiful thought with an even more beautiful outcome. Spending each step, each decision, each moment to deliberately, on purpose, glorify God in all you do, praise Him in everything, think about the effect before plowing through to the next cause, the next place, time, meeting, or conversation, and understanding how light can be carried through the important and through the mundane is gospel in tangible form.  Faith without deeds is dead (James 2:17), intentionality makes Faith come alive to those around you.  

While it is always a hope to encourage whomever blesses me enough to read my words, the purpose always begins because of a needed pep talk to myself.  This time last year as summer was beginning, the calendar was full, the summer fun list created, and as it always does time zoomed past with most everything checked off the list, but as I sat alone on the first day of school I realized one of the most important things that had been missing those last couple months, quiet.

Quiet in the midst of chaos is most definitely achievable, but without the deliberate, on purpose, intentionality it is almost impossible.

Before the next two months go whirling past in a swirl of sky, sun, and green I am praying that God continues to pull our hearts to Him so we, in whatever tasks this summer holds, can intentionally point others to Him as well.

Pray for me, I'll be praying for you.

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