In my last post I revealed that My One word for 2016 is "intentional". Little did I know what that decision would lead to and what the Lord had in mind as I naively thought this would be a great word to work on in the upcoming year. It is a great word for sure and has already got my wheels turning on how I can apply it in different areas of my life, but as God often does, He has challenged me beyond what I thought I was ready for. Let me explain.
The reason I chose the word "intentional" is because I have been in a slow process of filtering through some of the areas of my life I felt had become cluttered. With minimalism as my new goal, I have begun to embrace the style of living that brings more simplicity and meaning to having less, doing less, and focusing on less of everything in general so I can ultimately enjoy life more, have more success in the trimmed down areas of focus, and especially cultivate closer relationships in the process.
As I thought about my goal to live more intentionally I had to ask myself which areas I felt needed some work, or really some reconfiguring. That's when I narrowed my attention to 5 areas: My Faith, or relationship with God, My personal health and wellness, My home and physical surroundings , My relationships with others, My work and ministry, and My constant desire for personal growth. Actually that last one is a bit of a misnomer since the real goal here is to grow into the likeness of Christ. I should actually label it as a desire for personal/spiritual growth.
Anyway, my first order of business was to start clearing out some clutter in order to be able to not get so distracted by the unimportant. It makes sense to me that unnecessary or possibly toxic things, activities, behaviors, and maybe even relationships can ultimately steal my attention from what I am trying to focus on and enjoy.
This seemed like a great revelation and was a great starting point so I jumped into action. Since Christmas was now over and the new year had started the perfect place to start was in my personal space, or my home. After clearing away the holiday decorations and being inspired by a beautiful home decor book my son gave me for Christmas, called Sage Living, I was ready for change. I went through everything in my home, top to bottom, and cleared out anything that I didn't find absolutely useful or didn't absolutely love taking up space.
This was a big job, but not as bad as it could have been if I wasn't a "de-clutterer" by nature. I periodically go through things and cart boxes off to the thrift store, although I still had stuff that I felt some sort of strange responsibility to keep. I also had things that I felt I would surely use in the future even though I hadn't used them for years. I was deeply motivated so into the box they went.
Having less stuff in my house has given me a surprising sense of freedom and calm that I suspected would come even though I wasn't fully convinced. Now, I feel I'm ready to live more intentionally in my home and have purposed to use all of the items I decided I loved. You know, those special things you only use on special occasions, but are hidden away behind a lot of things you don't even really care about. Now, those are front and center and I'm excited to put them to use in order to make every day a special day.
So, after explaining this first process, you are probably wondering where things went a bit askew. It really started as my husband and I started a video study on breaking free from sinful patterns that actually cause physical pain and disease. The first section of the Breaking Free Series, by Art Mathias, tackled the biggest problem areas: un-forgiveness and bitterness. He had made the comment that if a memory of an event or person still brings pain, there is un-forgiveness and bitterness involved. These thoughts can churn around in our head so much that they take over our mind and our physical bodies start to be affected.
It hit me that I have a lot of un-forgiveness and anger in my heart over some things that have been really painful in my life. I go through cycles of repentance and ask God to forgive me for these attitudes but I obviously haven't chosen to let it go since I have a lot of memories that bring a lot of hurt with them. I realized that just like material items can clutter our homes, these attitudes and thoughts were cluttering my mind and took up space that I wanted for godly, righteous ones.
This kind of de-cluttering was a lot more painful and my hesitation is material for a whole other post. The bottom line was that my un-forgiveness had become a deceptive form of protection for me, not unlike a lot of things we hold on to. Oh, it didn't really work, but I felt comfort in the idea that I thought it did. It felt extremely unsafe and risky to start getting rid of these thoughts for good but I knew it was time. They were becoming more and more toxic to the rest of my life.
Once I was ready, it was sure a lot easier that going through every cupboard and closet. All I had to do was pray a prayer of repentance and a prayer that released the offenders from the debt I thought they owed me. You need to realize that I have done this before, actually many times. But then, I was under the illusion that it was a done deal. I think when I prayed that prayer this time, it was significant and for me included the huge step of trusting God to protect and care for me as I laid down the invisible cloak I had been counting on.
And, now I know that I need to be intentional. It's up to me to replace these thoughts with new ones. It's up to me to daily clear out the ones that I don't want that are taking up space for the ones I do. God will help me but I realize that He expects me to be an active part of the process in making constant choices in what my thoughts will be. The hard part is to die to the desire to pick up that cloak again when I fool myself into thinking I won't survive without it.
When I looked up the word "intentional", I was stunned by what I found. I expected the first definition: "an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result". That fit perfectly into my goal of being more purposeful in how my life played out on a daily basis. But, I was surprised by the second definition, not knowing that "intention" is actually a medical procedure. It certainly is fitting, or at least it has been for me. This second definition is: "the healing process of a wound".
Putting intentionality to work in my life as I renew my mind has already started the process of healing deep and painful wounds to make room for the peace and joy that I was after in the first place. I'm excited to see how the Lord uses this in my life and I suppose I had better be ready for more surprises and challenges as I determine to live my life with more intention.
Have you chosen your One Word yet?
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.