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Choosing to Be Intentional

Apr 19, 2015 08:23AM ● Published by Bonnie Lyn Smith

Choosing to Be Intentional

Lately, I was thinking about how much I love my hairstylist.

Because she does my hair so well? Well, she does, but that’s not why. 

Because she offers kindness and seems to enjoy the challenge of shaping my mangled mess of thick, wiry waves? Well, that’s awesome too, but that’s not it either.

Because, quite simply, she lets me in.

She talks to me about deep subjects. She shares her mama angst and desire to raise a good son. And she lets me see glimpses of that beautiful Spirit God gave her…that heart she is letting Jesus shape.

I absolutely appreciate that we can talk about matters of faith together, but the reason I carry her around in my heart is more than that.

When I made the decision to color my midlife mane a year ago, I was about to launch my first book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, and I wanted a good author photo. I went to my local salon chain and enlisted the help of this lovely woman. She was a completely random choice.

After the first appointment, I had several offers from friends to color my hair for me; some even suggested why not just do it myself? Absolutely. Penny-Pinching Me is all over that, except for one thing:

I felt strongly that I was to continue to interact with this woman. I was prompted to stay connected.

So, while my wallet protested, whined, and moaned all the way there and continued to make funny “I’m empty” noises while I was sitting in the chair (as if, mid-rinse, I’d just get up and leave) and the appointments meant a sacrifice somewhere else that month in terms of our budget, I continued to visit her as needed for mane maintenance. 

Now, we aren’t exactly solving world hunger or setting human trafficking victims free together. From a simple perspective, we are just touching into each other’s lives. That’s it.

My goal each time I see her is simply to encourage, listen, and rave about how incredibly talented she is. It isn’t flattery. (Don’t we all see enough of that everywhere?) I am not looking for anything free coming my way.

I think sometimes we tell ourselves we need to see an end goal or even a clear purpose to engage with people around us who are otherwise acquaintances or strangers.

Or maybe we question what right do we have to insert ourselves into their lives?

Those aren’t necessarily bad questions. We certainly can’t jump into everyone’s business around us, and we never want to bulldoze people, but we can look for where there is a need or simply where we are being welcomed, even invited—where the door is being opened, even just a crack.

I didn’t ask her to join me at dinner. I don’t even know her last name. I see her once every 8 to 10 weeks, but when I sit in her chair for two hours, I make it a point to see where I can build something positive into her life in some way. 

I have no delusions of grandeur. Would her life go on okay without me in it? Sure. Is there a greater purpose to the tiny friendship between us? Will we someday be brought together in some common cause? Will we know each other more than a few years? I have no idea.

But if we have a chance to speak blessing and love into someone’s life, isn’t that an awesome way to live? I don’t do this everywhere I go, but I have found that making a choice to be intentional is the difference between walking around this world in a bubble of isolation and touching lives in ways where we can leave a small imprint—and they can also leave one on us.

I’m a socially anxious introvert. Making phone calls fill me with terror, and yet each year I volunteer to be part of the team that calls every member of our church community at Christmas and Easter. Why would I do something so outside my comfort zone and even ability level, when all I do is panic for days leading up to my calls?

Because I want to love people beyond my own weaknesses. I want to rely on God to supply what I lack. I want to grow in areas that fill me with fear.

In my book, I reference a time when I saw a woman in Walmart looking for BPA-free containers to microwave soup for her daughter going through chemotherapy. I didn’t know this right away, of course, but I could see she needed some help. She explained what she was looking for, and as I helped her look, she told me why. It touched my heart, so I asked if I could have her daughter’s first name to pray for her. She seemed very happy about that. Now, almost every time I go to Walmart I pray for that family and that someday I can meet her again and hear good news.

These are such tiny examples during everyday errands of how we can be a little intentional when we interact. It could be just smiling nicely to the barista having a rough day, giving an extra tip to the overworked waitress, or cleaning up some trash that someone else spilled in the movie theater.

Galatians 6:9, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

I want to live my life not growing weary of doing good. And after all, He Who began a good work in us is going to finish it. My tiny part of someone’s life or day will come to purpose and completion one day—

—just as I will.

Philippians 1:6, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.

Her bookNot Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.

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Opinion, Faith, Today intentional living living with intention doing good helping others

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