Whew! It’s been one of those weeks. You know the ones. I had my calendar and goal planners all neatly laid out. My priorities each fit into time slots. I made sure there was margin around the edges. I blocked off time for family, friends, solitude with God, and planned every meal. My “no” answers had been intentional so I could clear room to focus well. Then real life hit full force.
Life on Life’s Terms
My teen son went out with friends, and during their evening together he was climbing a cinder block wall. Don’t ask. He fell and landed on his hand the wrong way. We got the call at 8:45p that a friend was driving him home so we could take him to an Emergency Room because he thought he had broken his finger. Whatever a nurse is, I’m the opposite. I curdle at the sight of any injury. While I’m normally strong and able to stand by anyone through a crisis, medical stuff is not my forte.
In case you are like me, I won’t tell you the details. Let’s suffice it to say I was hyperventilating and made him get in the back seat so I didn’t have to look at the injury while I drove him to Urgent Care, then to ER (because Urgent Care didn’t help). Four hours, three X-Rays, two nurses, and one doctor later, we left the hospital at 1:00 am with his finger realigned and splinted.
Surrender to Win
That was the beginning of this week which sort-of spiraled away from there. On Sunday we sang “Surrounded – This Is How I Fight My Battles.” We may feel encircled by enemies and hardship, but the deeper reality is that we are surrounded by God. That song was on replay throughout this week – a lifeline to remind me of God’s hand and presence when I feel like I’m drowning in to-dos, needs, crises, and emotions. I realized at some point that how I fight my battles is to surrender. Another great Christian irony.
At this point, you might be thinking, “Wait a minute. I thought you were writing a post about intentional living.” You are right. I am. Let’s get something straight first. We can plan, organize, outline, and color code to our little heart’s content, but we will not dictate the circumstances in our lives. In the middle of prayer time with God this week, I heard Him nudge, “You don’t pick the circumstances. You do get to choose your responses.”
Choosing with Intention
With that foundation laid, let’s talk about choosing well. Thankfully most weeks and seasons aren’t as chaotic and disarming as my past week has been. When we are hit with a double-whammy, we need to recalibrate, dial back, and call in support. When the storm passes, and we are back on solid ground, we can live life at a normal click. For many of us, that speed resembles life on the German Autobahn. We zoom from one event to the next with children trailing behind us.
As I shared in a video in The Encouraging Motherhood Community on Facebook this week, we all have a capacity, and like it or not, it’s limited. I used a bag to demonstrate what happens when we overstuff our lives by saying “yes” to everything – even good things – and end up with no room to breathe, dropping important commitments or tasks, and carrying more weight than we were meant to bear.
In one of my favorite books ever, “The Best Yes,” Lysa TerKeurst shares about how we need to choose well. In our day and age, we are inundated with choices. Distractions abound. Staying on track and choosing well is harder than ever. We have to be intentional if we are going to live a life of purpose and contentment.
Living on Purpose
I do a few things to make sure my yes answers go to the very best activities and priorities. I start by defining my purpose. Every 90 days I revisit this process to clarify further. When we know what we are meant to do with our lives and our time, it becomes a lot easier to say “no” to what isn’t a fit for us. We have to accept that we won’t fit in every living thing. We are going to have to say “no” – a lot. Each “yes” answer has hundreds of hidden no answers in its shadow. If I’m only going to read a certain number of books, spend recreational time with particular people, go on limited vacations, I need to choose well. Sifting our choices through our personal purpose and calling helps us greatly.
If you want to read more about how our family specifically did this, you can check out my article on Kindred Mom called, “How to Make Supper Time Work for Your Family.” I talk about some difficult and important choices we made so we could break bread together more often over here at the Scott home.
Sifting Through Choices
In a very practical sense, I suggest you sit down every so often with a piece of paper or a form (I have some on my website for you if you want to use those) and evaluate your purpose. Then look at what fills your time. Are all the lessons, practices, extracurriculars, volunteer positions, and social engagements lined up with this season of life, your capacity, and your dreams and visions? When you draw a line out from these activities into the future, are they aiming you towards what matters most to you and those you love? If not, it might be time to make some changes.
Even one degree of difference when sailing can land you in an entirely different destination. The same is true for our choices. You can move your trajectory one step closer to what you want to become and do with this precious life you have been given.
When storms hit, kids are sick, jobs are laid off, unexpected tragedy rolls in, know you may have to dock the boat for a while. It’s okay. God hasn’t lost sight of you in those moments. You will sail again.
If you want to dive into more practical support about living with intention, my book, Slow Down, Mama: Intentional Living in a Hurried World is available on Amazon. In it, I share my story of going from crazy-busy to purposeful. I help you identify what keeps you busy, and then we go through learning life-giving habits you can apply to make real change that lasts.
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