It was the part of the wedding where the priest was leading the bride and groom in their vows and all the promises of “I do”, some comical and others deeply sincere. I felt myself tear up as they gazed into each others eyes and spoke soundly, with a direct and affirming response. Then, the priest turned to us, those who came to witness this union and celebrate this holy matrimony. He asked us to respond to a vow:
“Do you, friends and family who gather alongside this couple, promise to support and encourage this marriage? Will you be a part of strengthening it and spurring them on in their journey?” And the crowd echoed, “we do!”
I may not have mentioned this, but I did not know the bride or groom. I was a simple minstrel at the ceremony, who got lost in the love of it all, and teared up at the touching moments. Surely, I did not see myself as someone who would be an active role in their marriage, but it got me stirred up, nonetheless. While it may sound assuring and powerful to have a whole congregation stand in solidarity over your marriage, what would that even look like?
I doubt the priest was referring to the adorned jug, next to the guest book, that asked for writings of marital wisdom to be dropped in. I would say he was speaking of a much more active role, one that might entail speaking up when you haven’t been spoken to; allowing your love for them to be greater than your pride; possibly being available, at the most inconvenient times; and maybe, simply to follow through on your vow to them, with intention.
The rest of the ceremony was beautiful, however, I became consumed with wrestling these thoughts of what living intentionally even looks like.
We all crave intimate friendships where we can bare it all, be real, and still be unconditionally loved and supported, yet I have seen marriages and friendships dissolve as a result of offense from sincere and truthful words. I see a culture that speaks of beliefs, yet lives out what is valued. We believe in truth, yet value flattery; we believe in quality, yet value quantity; we believe in health freedom, yet value medical dependency; we believe in honesty, yet value our reputation; We believe in family, yet value careers; we believe in fitness, yet value TV time; we believe in leadership, yet value management.
You may need to shed all that you have learned about life, love and identity, to uncover the real truth of who you are. I wrote about getting naked in that sense, here. After you have let go of all the garbage of your past, its time to look forward. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Who do I want to be remembered as, and what do those qualities look like in day-to-day living?
- Am I taking care of myself, physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually? How can I improve these areas?
- What is my area of influence? Family, marriage, children, friendships, career, ministry, etc…
- What commitments in my life are becoming obstacles to living intentionally?
When we are able to honestly evaluate our lifestyle, we may see that we are living what we value and it may not truly reflect that which we believe. A desire for authentic living is common, but it is the action poured out of that desire which creates a culture for intentional living.
I wonder how many weddings I have attended where I, too, shouted out the hurrah of “I do!” in response to my commitment to their marriage, unconsciously pledging my allegiance to the greater good of the friendship. I wonder if we really comprehend that we do play a role in the development of others? Our friendship can either be a help or a hindrance when friends argue; Our faith can either encourage or discourage others in their faith journey; Our love can either confirm or deny whom we believe in.
” But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” ~ Joshua 24:15( NIV)
To live intentionally is to live by a choice of beliefs, upheld by a lifestyle that values those beliefs. The path to living intentionally is a practiced route, meant to be re-evaluated after time and passing seasons. The culture may change around you, but what can stay constant is who you are, and how you live. Just as all things change, what always remains steadfast is the character of God. We bank on His unfailing love, justice and truth – it’s what gives us hope. The fact that His words are always backed by his actions, allows us freedom and peace to call upon him, trust him, love him, and value our relationship with him.
I desire to be a woman of noble character, one on whom others can call upon and receive an open door, an open heart and unconditional love. When I speak, I desire my words to be reliable, where yes is yes, and no is no. I choose to be someone who, when asked to vow a promise in upholding a friends marriage, will do so even when its uncomfortable or inconvenient; where my love for others precedes my own pride of reputation.
I believe our greatest testimony and opportunity for evangelism, lies in our day-to-day practice of intentional living.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:16
Its never too late to start living intentionally, and practice becoming the person you truly are and desire to be; it will be the most beautiful you, that you will have ever known.