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Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Problem of Being Intentional. Or Not.

It's a buzz phrase these days: Intentional.  It sounds so...purposeful, determined, self-directed, controlled.
Sounds almost too good to be true.

Let me just put this out there.  I am intentional about a very few things in my life.
And the rest, well, I like to leave the door wide open for the spontaneous.  Don't get me wrong - this can be problematic too.  Because I want to allow room for people who come along who weren't on my to-do list (if I really had one, which I don't usually).

I'd like to be intentional about so much, but I just don't seem to have that gift.  I do think it must be a gift.  It is a gift given to the driven, type A - and well, I'm just a type B, or C or maybe a Q or X or Z.  Haven't figured that out yet, and being a non-type A, I may just never get around to typing myself into a category.  Which is really okay, because who has time to stare inward - navel-gazing, I call it - ad nauseum figuring out where I really fit into some category or such.

I'm a Mom with 5 kids, ages 13 down to 3.  I am up to my eyeballs in just living.  I'd love to pretend I'm soaring on the glory of parenthood - and I do have those moments daily - being such a spontaneous, unplanned, un-intentional type, I do take time to smell the flowers and the sweaty hugs and morning breath of the kids that crawl all over me before I really want to get up.  It's more wonderful than it sounds - I just can't describe it to you!

The thing I am intentional about seems to be being anti-social.  Now - not in the terribly negative, rude, off-putting sense.  No - I'm anti-social in the sense of feeling obligated to run hither and yon to every social event there is.  I feel maxed out just socializing with a broad range of children.  And I love being social one-on-one.  I just don't do well with the chit-chatty general socialness of society.  So, I'm intentional about preserving my social energies and limit myself to whatever is realistic - which really isn't much.  I guess I'll just ask for forgiveness and understanding when it comes to my lack of socialness.

And I share this for you who may be type A or B or Z.  Because I'd like you to know you don't have to perform, you don't have to win the gregarious prize.  You don't need to worry what everyone thinks of you.  Because if you just hang onto your sanity and snuggle a kid or two each day, you're doing just fine.  Forget trying to do it all.  If doing it all is stressing you out, just start being intentional about disengaging from society, just a little bit.  I may be accused of being selfish (which would be spot on).
 But I am not trying to win a popularity contest.

Relax.

Be intentional, if that's your gift.  And if it's not, just be intentional about what really matters, and let the rest of your life flow from the joy
                        of living
                                 for an audience 
                                                   of One.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The "Don't Listen To Me" Prayer

So I have this big thing against complaining.  I feel justified in my anti-complaining stance - after all, God isn't fond of it either, and since we are to imitate Him, well, you draw your own conclusion!

The thing that gets me about complaining is that at the heart of it it smacks of discontent and ingratitude.  I know a few particular people who have a big thing against ingratitude, and if you know any, you will know how easy it is to raise their ire.  Just don't thank them.  Enough.  Or sincerely enough.  Or at all.  Or act entitled.  The offense this causes is my reaction to complaining.  My children know it.  My husband knows it.  Complaining is simply off limits in my house.

In fact, it is so off limits, that I even react when it is subtle.  Or not so subtle since you'd have to be a genius to slip complaining by me in any form and have it go unnoticed.  I may be kind and ignore it.  Or I may just call you on it.  Don't try your luck!

So you will be shocked to know that I, too, of all people, who so nobly turn my nose up at complaining, once in a while, have a complaining heart.

Aaargh.

Then I face the very thing in me that I so detest in others.  And it happened to me the other day.

You see, we have never had a headboard for our bed (or a footboard for that matter).  For a year we slept on a mattress on the floor, while we were in transition.  I got much stronger leg and back muscles from that, to the point where I now feel somewhat of a wimp, enjoying the luxury of a bed that sits on a basic frame.

But once in a while, in a hotel or as a guest, we experience the headboard thing.  Our bed doesn't end up sliding out from the wall, my pillows don't fall down the crack and I began to realize that this headboard thing is the next step in luxurious living.

But we have been focussed on settling everyone in our house with highest priorities falling to kids and such.  And right now we can't afford a headboard (*sigh*).  Well, of course we could spend on it and pay later, or juggle things around, but it just isn't a priority in our family budget.  And probably won't be for a while.

And I woke up the other day with the first thought popping into my head, "I guess someday we'll eventually get a headboard."  And I caught myself.  "Quit it!  Of all the things in life concerning you, you think of a headboard?!  There are people grieved, suffering, dying, ailing, hurting, fearful, and lost and you dwell on a headboard!?  Get over yourself."

And I knew God was listening in on my thoughts, since He knows and sees the ponderings of our souls.  And I said, "Okay Lord, just don't listen to me right now.  These thoughts aren't exactly the kind of thing I want you to hear.  Let me just sort this out and shut down this complaining heart before I let you in on my thoughts."  I do this whenever I have ungodly thoughts.  I call it the Don't-Listen-To-Me prayer.  Because I know God knows what I'm thinking.  And once in a while I am quite ashamed of myself for thinking such things.

Sometimes I want to read the imprecatory Psalms over someone, and then I repent and pray the Don't-Listen-To-Me-Right-Now prayer.

Even though the Psalmist didn't pray that, but felt quite comfortable calling on God to deal with His enemies in most unsavory ways.

I know I can be honest with God about the things going on within me - as we all can.  But I do recognize when my thoughts are me-centred, petty, unrighteous, unholy and filled with complaining.  It is at those times I arrest myself and simply ask God to not listen to me.  I do this because at those moments when I think of Who He is and all He has done, I realize my complaints (not borne out of soul suffering, but merely whiney, self-pitying stuff) are rude, offensive and denying of His daily mercy and grace in my life.

And in fact, the Don't Listen To Me prayer does help me.  Because it arrests me at that moment and tells me, "Hey, if you have to pray that, don't you think there is something going on that needs correcting and changing?"  It forces me to address the ugliness in my soul and re-focus on what - or Who - is eternal.

I invite you to pray the Don't Listen To Me prayer too.  Because all our thoughts lie open before Him.  Certainly He knows how sinful we can be.  I'm sure He'll give us a minute or two (hour, day, week etc). to realign ourselves to His purpose and to reflect on His grace.

And it certainly does wonders to tweak a complaining heart.