5 Things to Be Intentional About in 2016

Carolyn Shields

I'm sitting here in the chapel, all flushed from efforts of biding off this flu for as long as possible and a heart that is surprisingly not rattled from declining an invite to a New Years Eve Party because I know my sweet face will be there...which means, I probably shouldn't be.

And the New Year is tomorrow, so I'm filled with wonder for what else our Holy will give me as He takes away. Sure, I have financial goals (which makes me feel like an adult, hayyyy), and I have physical and spiritual aspirations by the time 2017 rolls around, but one thing I would like to preach on is that 2016 sounds like a beautiful year to be intentional. With what, you ask?

With this:

1. Praise

We oftentimes think that praise should come easy, that it's natural to praise Him after a storm when all is calm and we realize we're still breathing. But praise can be hard in the midst of it. Praise is choosing to thank God for the pain at the moment after the blow is felt, knowing and trusting in the truth that there is no such thing as unnecessary suffering. Praise is like some effingly loud echo heard in those dark valleys that drowns out the fear, the hurt, the loneliness. And lastly, being intentional about praise also means holding close to your heart these dear words that greatly impacted my faith in this fleeting year of 2015: praise speaks louder than fear.

2. Social Media

This could be an entire article in itself, but be intentional with your online presence. What message are you sending by the way you live your life? What message are you sending by the way you live your, as Sherry Turkle calls it, second life? Your online life. Finding beauty in the simple? An authentic you? What is your message? Be intentional about it and be whole...be you.

3. Relationships

This goes hand in hand with social media. Before you post that photo of you reading your book on a Sunday afternoon by the lake, all wrapped up in your Dublin wool, pause. What if you sent that photo to the girlfriend who lended the book to you instead? Be intentional about whom you reach out to...the masses or the individuals. Jesus had only twelve buds, remember? He didn't go after the world at once. Sure, Jesus' followers expanded by the years, but a study claims you only need a solid three friends for a sense of well being. And if you decline plans and opt to stay in for the night, even a week day night, ask yourself: are you doing this because it's easier, or are you doing this because you really need your alone time? And lastly, why are you even dating? What is your intent?

4. Moderation

I quote my father repeatedly when it comes to my generation not understanding moderation: beer is really, really good...in moderation. Social media is pretty convenient...when done in moderation. Tv, fast food, sex, all good stuff when we are aware of our intake. However, we love to over consume, splurge, party hard and work hard, or neglect a good too much (ie, avoiding friends or eating too little). If we become intentional on how we consume, we'll be a golden generation.

5. Time

Here's maybe the hardest one for me: be intentional with your time. How? Maybe by starting a routine nightly reflection of conscious solely regarding the clock. What or with whom did you spend the most time today? How did you spend your time with coworkers today?  How did you spend your time in the traffic jam? How did you spend your lunch break? How much time did you devote to prayer?

Let's get this conversation going. What are your thoughts on intentionality?  In what other areas of our life can be strive to be more intentional?