how do we live a life of intentionality

HI recently wrote an article for Fave Lifestyles, and wanted to expand a bit more on my thoughts on being purposeful and living with intentionality. Of all of my coaching conversations over the years, I find that many of our challenges and disappointments come from a lack of having a clear understanding of where we are headed. Perhaps this will be an encouragment to you as well.

Four decades before founding Evoke Ministries, life looked a bit less structured and purposeful than it does today. As I moved from childhood to early adulthood, I began to slowly recognize that some of the “truths” that I had grown up with didn’t necessarily line up with my personal life experience or points of view. Increased knowledge, and an expansion of circumstances, brought new light to things once held dear; thoughts and values once hidden in the subliminal, came to light as life brought with it fresh revelation. Later, as a new mother, I began to challenge myself in my “why’s,” and began actively pursuing intentional parenting. I spoke with mothers who had gone before, read books, took courses and considered how my choices as a mom could shape my son as an adult. There were certain core values I knew I wanted to instill, and I carefully weighed my decisions as a parent, against those end goals for my child. Today, my mantra is,  “We do not get what we deserve. We get what we are committed to.” (Ronnie Doss)

Over time, this approach has served me extremely well as an adult; not just as a parent, but in my relationships with family, friends and in marriage. While we cannot control the choices of others, we can always choose our responses to them. We ourselves can cultivate the atmosphere we want within those relationships. Living with intentionality in our decision making and word choices, as well as our attitudes, also helps in identifying which relationships may not be best for us – whether in that moment or long-term. Life (and therapy!) have taught me that there is nothing more powerful and life-giving than choosing how, and when, we respond to the people and situations in our lives. What we nurture and what we put aside, greatly determines the atmosphere and culture we establish in our homes and for our daily lives. Intentional parenting does not come by default but by design. 

We must be willing to consistently learn and grow; challenge ourselves. “Do my choices speak to the destiny I want for myself? My family? My children?” I have outlined a couple of questions/statements which I often ask of myself and my clients, and  hope they will bring some clarity and encouragement to you as well. 

What is my end game?

As women we can sometimes forget that our emotions are meant to be indicators of something being out of balance, not a decision-making force. A solid pause and a reminder to think about where I am headed, and where I want to lead, will do wonders in not only making a better decision, but will also help us to maintain a sense of peace in our spirit and balance in our relationships.

Walking through my divorce, I struggled with being kind. Over the years, he and I have often been confronted with opportunity to choose long term goals over short term emotions, but the fruit of our decision to honor one another, even when we didn’t see eye-to-eye, has resulted in two very well-adjusted adult children who never feel they have to choose a side. I have also seen in all its splendor, the result of grown children raised by divorced parents with no strategy other than self indulgence and righteousness. 

Where am I headed?

When working with my coaching clients, I often encourage them that we don’t parent, or relate, from where we came from, but to where we are going. Just because mom did it this way, or my ex didn’t like that, doesn’t mean we respond in the same manner in the relationships we have today. In my family growing up, our world was full of do’s and don’t’s, and emotional outbursts if we didn’t line up with expectation, but there was little training in critical thinking, practical application of life skills or relationship skills, and zero margin for error. As a parent, I work really hard to communicate effectively while still maintaining a set of expectations. I don’t punish my kids with chores – they do them because we are a part of a team. When a child makes a mistake, they understand that there will be natural consequences because in life there are always natural consequences. Learning now that the value of honesty maintains healthy communication and trust sets them up to be honoring of the truth as an adult. Teaching them that we are in control of our emotions and decisions, establishes accountability for choices as adults, which will hopefully keep them gainfully employed and healthfully married.

Do I trust I’ve established a solid foundation?

Often as women, when we see others choosing a path which violates our personal, relational, or familial expectations, we can perceive the need to continue to correct; whether it’s a child, spouse or even friend. Our job, however, is not to control, but rather to help stir up one another’s strengths, to evoke the greatness within them, while helping them to effectively manage the weaknesses. When we feel the need to manage another person’s choices, it’s vital we revisit if we have done enough to communicate our message clearly. If we have, we must allow bandwidth for free-will and not take the decision personally. If we have not, it’s ok to grace ourselves and gently, but firmly, reestablish those parameters. Our position is to lead and guide, not control and micromanage. 

I remember once receiving a late night call to come pick up a child. I was angry, hurt and disappointed, but when we sat down together, it was most important that I calmly reestablish the expectation, let them know there was a consequence, but focus mostly on the safety concerns and my expectation moving forward as they continue to be a part of our family community. They already were quite clear on why I was upset, I didn’t need to repeat myself again. Reminding them that I still loved them, and that as an adult, the consequences would be bigger were they to make the same choice again, did more to cement our relationship and ability to trust one another than I believe any other response would have. To this day I see the evidence of their knowledge of my expectations, respect of those values, AND, personal responsibility for the decisions they make that I may not appreciate. 

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