The illusion of intention

We are all guilty of it.  A friend at church tells us a need and we quickly reply, as if by reflex, “I’ll be praying for you!”  And then we get in the car, put it in drive, and enter into the rest of our day.  Sometimes we remember that friend later on in the day.  Sometimes we remember that intention to pray a week later.

How about this one…  you settle in for some time in your bible (I could call it devotions or say you are spending time in God’s word, but honestly that would just be me trying to sound extra spiritual) and you snap a pic to post on social media.  You rearrange things a bit first of course… the coffee cup has to be just so, the pen diagonally across the journal… oh, and make sure the text is a good one and not some awkward verse about circumcision or twin fawns.  For a hilarious take on this, check out this video by John Crist

Then you take the picture and add the perfect filter after checking them ALL - post it with an inspirational quote or something about how it’s the best way to start the day and you’re done!

Now all this is fine, if you actually go on to spend more time studying the bible than you did setting up the image of you studying the bible.

For me, sometimes the intention to do something feels almost like I’ve actually done it.  Does this happen to anyone else?   I intend to study my bible, I even post about it, but then something distracts me and I really didn’t sit in the scriptures at all!  If I tell you I’ll pray for you, it’s like I DID pray for you, right?  At least you think I prayed for you, so that’s good… Mmmmm, not so much.

I remember dating a guy in seminary that was very controlling and jealous.  It was a bad relationship.  However, everyone around us thought we were the perfect couple and I was the luckiest girl in the world to be with him.  There were times that I actually thought “If everyone thinks we are perfect, maybe that is enough to make it worth it”.  Um, wrong again.   (By the way I realize how unhealthy this is!   Truth be told I was young and insecure and felt so lucky that this guy wanted to date me.  Now I encourage young women to walk in confidence and to wait for God’s YES when it comes to dating and marriage).

In this generation of nonstop social media, we have all learned that how something is portrayed is not always how it really is.  In the same way, intention isn’t the same as actually doing something; it’s a commitment to do it. 

If I take a picture of my bible and write about spending time with God, I need to genuinely use that time to spend with God.  Not open my bible, take the pic, post it, spend 15 minutes on Instagram, then read two verses and be done.  

If you tell someone you are going to pray for them, put it in your calendar or jot down a reminder and do it.  Better yet, take a couple of minutes and pray for them right then and there.  That is what I started to do so that I could be sure that I would truly pray for their need in an authentic, not rushed way.

Let’s strive to be people of truth and authenticity in person and online – and to drive our intentions to their final destination of reality.