Admittedly, I am frequently annoyed by “Christian catch-phrases.” By this, I mean those phrases and words that get thrown around within Christian circles, label you as a “church person,” and can be classified under the language of “Christian-ese.”
Early on in my journey of faith, one such word that grew to irritate me was the word “intentional.”
I heard all about the importance of being intentional in my friendships, in my prayer, and in my interactions with others, yet I had no idea what being intentional actually looked like. I wanted to look like it, because I thought that in order to become the good Christian girl I desired to be, I had to look and be intentional. And yet I was sailing at sea with no compass in an effort to be something when I didn’t even know what it meant.
What Does “Being Intentional” Really Mean?
We don’t want to succumb to just talking the talk of Church lingo. We actually want to live it out. But to live it out, we need to think about and discuss some of these ideals and phrases. What does it mean to actually be a woman of intentionality? I believe it is very noble to strive for intentionality. I believe that when women foster intentionality, the world has the capability to be changed.
So how do we grasp intentionality?
To be intentional, I believe, can be further explained as embracing three things:
To be intentional means to be purposeful. It means to perform your actions for a reason. It means looking the cashier in the eye and saying hello, not so they will get you through the line faster, but so that you can actually see them as the individual they are. It means putting your phone away when you’re catching up with friends. It means saying, “We should hang out,” only if you actually mean it. It means focusing on the present moment and the person in front of you instead of thinking of all the things you still have to do.
Walking with this kind of purpose throughout our daily interactions, can be extremely inconvenient. Which brings me to my second point.
Women who desire to embrace intentionality must be willing to welcome inconvenience.
The truth is, the to-do lists are not growing any shorter these days, and the amount of things that can distract us from the present moment is immense. It would be much more convenient to text those five people I need to respond to while waiting in the check out line than interacting with the person in front of me. It might “save time in the long run” to be thinking about other separate situations while talking with a friend over coffee. It can be easy to turn our prayer time into simply wind-down time rather than conversation with Jesus.
There are always things we can choose to distract us. But to be intentional means to give those things their own time, and focus on the current matter at hand. It means losing some of the time spent on menial tasks in order to give our parents a phone call. It means losing a little bit of sleep at night in order to crack open the Bible. Intentionality cannot be divorced from inconvenience.
So we’re left with the question: will we avoid the inconvenient or embrace it?
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Lastly, to be intentional requires that one is capable of experiencing discomfort.
Sitting down and having a personal conversation with someone can be extremely awkward. Intentional conversations are frequently filled with long silences, nervous laughter, and left with an awkward feeling. Being intentional is not always pretty. It doesn’t always feel natural. Sometimes, your efforts at being intentional won’t be appreciated or will simply be misunderstood. But you continue the conversation, you continue the habit, you continue the eye contact, knowing that what starts as uncomfortable can grow into something beautiful.
The Language of Intentionality
It can be extremely challenging to live purposefully, embrace inconvenience, and remain in discomfort. But the good news is, we are not alone in the fight. Not only are there women across the globe who are striving for the same thing, we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses of intentionality in the Saints.
Christ Himself purposefully set time aside for prayer and He stopped at the well to meet the Samaritan woman. He made time for the hemorrhaging woman while He was on the way to heal another. He never brushed by anyone, He never moved around distracted from His surroundings. And we don’t need to look further than the Cross to know He embraced the inconvenient and the uncomfortable with wide open arms.
So be a woman of intentionality. Don’t just say the word, live it. And I pray that when you live it, the witness of your life becomes a language of its own.
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Mary Grace “Gracie” Tillman is a full-time student and full-time extrovert. If you don’t find her with her friends, odds are she’s lost on a backroad with her music all the way up. She loves sports, writing, one-on-ones over coffee, and all things related to Divine Mercy. She strives to life live every day to the fullest and be a joyful disciple of Jesus.