Sunday, June 11, 2006

Living Life Intentionally

As I observe people, the one thing that I notice over and over is that they are living for the here and now. They are spending their days reacting to the things around them but never planning their reaction. When I talk with them I get the sense that they don't know why they are doing half of what they are doing. They have given the things of their lives no thought. When I ask them a why question, they look startled and quickly move on to something else in an attempt to cover that they don't know why. If they had to answer they would probably respond that everyone else was doing it.

If you ask someone why college is important they will tell you that they want a job in a certain field and that they must go to college. It never occurs to them that there are alternatives to the traditional four year tens of thousands of dollars approach. People put their children in public schools with no thought other than to trust the government. Then they don't understand why their children are on drugs, having sex, and have no respect for their parents. It may seem well and fine to laugh at the mouthy child when they are two but when they are ten you will be upset at that same mouth. Yet, it will not occur to the parents that it was them who instilled that habit.

People who live life intentionally understand themselves and the reasons why they do the things they do. They choose how to educate their children and have well thought out convictions on their choice. They do not just blindly accept what everyone else is doing. People who have happy marriages are intentional in the development of the relationship. They know it takes time and thought to make a spouse feel safe, secure, and loved. They recognize the importance of the relationship. People with happy homes did not just get lucky. They set out on a well thought out road to achieve a happy home.

If I want my home to be a welcoming place to my family then I have to intentionally create that welcoming feeling. If I greet them at the door in the evening yelling they are not going to feel happy to come home. They may in fact dread it. On the other hand if they enter the home and are greeted with smiles and hugs and time is taken to hear of their day they will be excited and happy to be there. I have to be intentional in my greeting. I might also choose to be intentional about making sure the entry way is clean and uncluttered so they have somewhere to put their coats, shoes and bags. I might have a candle lit or supper cooking on the stove to create an anticipation of what is to come during the evening.

If I want my children to grow up with certain values then I have to be intentional about teaching those values. I can not ignore opportunities for them to learn my values and expect them to somehow catch them just by breathing the same air I breathe. If I want my children to be polite, I have to teach them manners and expect them to use manners in all situations. If I want them to be gracious in speech I have to set an example of this in my own speech and be on the look out for opportunities to reinforce this behavior in their lives. I can not scream in a fit of road rage and yet expect my children to not scream at their little friend who frustrated them because they were not moving fast enough.

A little intentional thought will go a long way in helping us to lives of meaning and value.