Thursday, July 2, 2009

Yes, but How?

It's very easy to get caught up in the idea of being more spiritual, but if I am not intentional (there's that word again!), that's all it will be: an idea, not a reality. And that is not what I want. I know that I am an "idea person." I can easily live in the world of books and ideas and feel like I'm doing something or changing my life, but all I'm actually doing is reading about doing it, thinking about changing it.

I guess I should define my terms here. We've all heard the old saying "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." But I'm not talking about having good intentions. I'm talking about living with Intentionality. The dictionary defines "Intentionality" as "the quality or state of being intentional; having, or being formed, by an intention; doing by intention or by design, on purpose." So you see that Living Intentionally carries me past the state of forming good intentions into the realm of actually living them.

This, of course, is not a new idea. I'm always amazed at my own slowness to grasp concepts, to fully comprehend things I already know and sometimes even practice in certain areas of my life. When my youngest child started school, I decided that that was the perfect time to begin a regular exercise program. Knowing my own body clock and personal propensities, I realized that I must work out first thing in the morning or it wouldn't get done. I intended to exercise; I chose a time; and I carried through with my plan. I didn't allow myself to decide every morning if I wanted to do it because the decision had already been made. I didn't just intend to exercise--I wanted to be the kind of person who exercises regularly. Years later, I still am. And I know it's because I have a plan, a schedule, and I follow it. It's not because I have some vague idea of needing to exercise. It's a part of my life now, a component of who I am.

This, then, will be the model for my intentional spirituality. There are some really interesting parallels. First of all, I realize that my main time for Scripture reading, devotional/theological reading, prayer, and meditation must be in the morning. For one reason, this symbolically puts God first in my life. It sets the tone of my day. Additionally, just like exercise, if done early in the morning it can't as easily become crowded out by the normal busyness of the day. But there are other similarities. I haven't done exactly the same workout for all these years. I've changed and adapted my workouts as I've encountered new information and as my needs have changed. I fully expect to do this in my spiritual pursuits. I'll read different scriptures, and from different versions. I'll pursue different ideas in the devotional and theological texts I read. I'll investigate contemplative prayer and different forms of meditating on God and scripture. And, just as I've incorporated functional fitness (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away and walking, etc.) into my life, I plan to incorporate "functional" spirituality, for lack of a better term, into my life. I don't want to put my pursuit of God in a box, relegating it only to corporate worship or morning devotional times.

But we'll talk about that tomorrow . . .

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