Once there was a really amazing woman. She lived what we would call an intentional life. Every day she carefully and prayerfully thought about what her goals were, and then she went about doing them, giving herself lots of grace in the process. Sometimes partway through the day, if she found herself feeling scattered, she simply paused to remember her intentions and then she got back on track. She went to bed each night feeling rested and content, thankful for both the things she accomplished and the challenges she faced along the way.
Who was this woman? Well, I wish I could say I'm describing myself, but the reality is that this kind of life is more like the one I dream of living than the one I'm actually living. I'm both amazed and perplexed by how very easy it is for me to NOT do what I want to do in my everyday real life.
Sometimes I will journal and ask myself, if I had all the time in the world, what would I do? What do I actually want to do? Then as I begin to write out my answers to these questions, I find that amazingly the things I write down are things I totally can do - even without "all the time in the world". But if I don't pause to think about them and name them, I tend to just not do them.
I'm not sure if this tendency to struggle with living intentionally is due to the busy nature of most of our lives, or the barrage of information and resources we have available to us, or a variety of other factors. Perhaps it's simply a universal part of our humanity that has always been there. Whatever the reasons, maybe one baby step to combat this unfortunate reality is to start to become aware of it. According to the famous philosopher Kierkegaard, what's worse than despair is being unconscious of being in despair.
I just started reading a book called "You are Not Your Own" by Alan Noble and I have a feeling it may change the way I think about this whole idea of living with intention. The author is helping me see that we are inundated with the idea that our life's meaning is something we get to create - a task he refers to as both freeing and terrifying. On the one hand, we think, how exciting! I get to define what gives my life meaning! But on the other hand, we worry, what if I mess this up? Can I actually figure out what is the best kind of meaning when it comes to my life?
So here's a wild and crazy idea... what if coming up with my life's meaning isn't actually something I'm meant to do?
Now if you're like me you may be saying, Oh I know, I know... because God is the one who gives my life meaning because He created me and has a plan for my life and [insert all those other good Sunday school answers about what is the true meaning of life].
But if I'm honest, even though I know in my head that life's deepest meaning comes from the reality of who God is and who He has created me to be, I still live with a constant underlying pressure to make sure I'm squeezing out the highest meaning from my life. I still put the pressure on ME to do what matters most in any given situation. I'm still kind of trying to create my own meaning, forgetting that God has already done it.
It's like what Paul talks about in Romans 7: "So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me." Doesn't it feel sometimes like there is truly a war going on inside of us?
The crazy thing is, I think we are often in the wrong fight. We're fighting to come up with the best goals, the highest level of meaning, wanting our lives to tell the most inspiring story... when all we really need is to re-align ourselves with the meaning and story God has already put in place. So let me try another version of that opening story.
Once there was a woman who lived a rather ordinary life. She went about her day, keenly aware of her need for Jesus. She loved singing songs about Him and to Him because they helped her to re-align herself with the bigger truths - those things she knew deep down in her heart but had a tendency to forget in the busyness of life's many demands. She read her Bible, although not as often as she wished she would. But she never ceased to be amazed every time God would allow her to see something new in it, something that reminded her of what life was really about. Her hope at the end of each day came not from what had happened that day, but from knowing that no matter what she had done or not done, God still loved her with an everlasting love.
Pray with me...
... Father, as we are continually confronted with the idea that we create our own life's meaning, would You deepen our understanding of what it means to live within the meaning and story You have set in place?
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. Isaiah 43:6-7
... Lord, please help us find creative and meaningful ways to teach our students how to live in the reality of Your unfailing love moment by moment
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
... God, for all who may be hurting or struggling, in the ACSD community and beyond, would You bring freedom and comfort that they may rest in Your everlasting love
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory