So, I’m getting over a fairly serious bout of bronchitis combined with a sinus infection. It all started with a benign cough due to allergies…nothing a little over-the-counter meds can’t handle. But it didn’t go away, and I ignored it. And ignored it. No fever meant nothing too serious, right? Deep down, I think I probably knew it was worsening, but then a kid came down with flu and nursing her became more important than caring for me. I delayed my trip to the doctor until I was full-blown, requiring-serious-meds sick. I was intentional about a lot of things in my life during those few weeks, but my health was not one of them. And I reaped the consequences.
Sometimes we bear fruit not from the things we sew and nourish, but from the things we neglect. This week, I went out to pull weeds from the yard. (I know, I know. I promise I AM resting, too.) The weeds in one corner of my yard had been ignored, and with a mild winter and an early spring, they were taking over. Our neglect of that part of the yard produced vibrant weeds, intent on destroying more yard if we let them be. So I did my best to uproot the lot of them, hoping to mitigate the number of baby weeds the big mama and daddy weeds would inevitably produce. I had to start being intentional about uprooting what was damaging.
There are people in our lives who also require our intentional attention. There are spiritual disciplines we should intentionally pursue, mission opportunities we should intentionally seek out, times of silence or date nights or play dates or grandparent visits to which we need to intentionally devote ourselves. The fruit in life that is worth bearing requires nurture and care; otherwise the weeds will take over.
I recognize that being intentional requires effort. I have been sick and tired (very literally) lately and have felt very little inspiration to be intentional at all. We can’t always give full-focus to every detail that touches our lives in each and every way. And so we must be strategic. Here’s how I am establishing priorities in my daily life, choosing which things to focus in on, and hopefully, leaving room for God to move me in new ways I can intentionally impact my little corner of the earth for His glory.
- Setting my priorities. What is most important to me is relationship, specifically my relationships with God, my husband, my kids, and my extended family and friends. When I look at my life, it is easy to identify the people God has put around me to be my family and my closest friends. We are the people God intends to connect for the glory of the body of Christ, so that’s where I need first to be intentional. I need to spend time in prayer every single day. I need to spend time reading the Bible every single day. I need to connect with God. If He is my first priority, then I have to be intentional about developing that relationship. When I am on the couch at night, exhausted and content to sit next to my husband, I need to put down my phone and listen to him talk about his day, talk to him about mine, and make a point of prioritizing our time together over TV, Instagram, or maybe even the folding of the laundry. And because my children require a great deal of attention, prayer, and energy, I know I can love them better by being intentional about getting enough sleep at night. This isn’t easy for my little night-owl self, but it’s something I’ve tried to be better about during the season of lent—developing the discipline of rest. When I’m rested (and healthy, ahem), it is easier to make time to play a board game before bed, listen to my sweet girl read one more chapter about inventors, or come up with a creative storybook character costume for school
- Saying, “No.” This used to be harder for me than it is now. But I’ve learned that it’s okay to push back against committing to do something that is out of line with my priorities and my capacity. Sometimes we need to be intentional about NOT doing fruitless things so we have the space to be intentional about the life-giving things. I need to pray and seek God’s will and sometimes choose not to do some good things for the sake of the things I’m already called to invest in with purpose and conviction. When there’s a little margin and the Holy Spirit moves, I can trust God to equip me in passion, time, and energy to pursue a new calling.
So, what is it that area of life where you could do with a little more “intentionality”? Do you need to be more intentional about budgeting money? buying healthy food? inviting that new person in your neighborhood over for dinner? putting down your phone to play a game with your kids? skipping the morning news to pray and read a passage of scripture? volunteering to serve those in need in your community? planning a surprise date for the love of your life? deciding to go to the doctor because you’ve been coughing for two weeks and it’s only getting worse? (Maybe that last one is just me!) Whatever priority that you’ve inadvertently let slip to auto-pilot, beware the weeds that might try to drown out more beautiful, satisfying, life-giving fruit.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.