I went to dinner with some friends a few nights ago and, not surprisingly since it seems to be on everyone’s mind, the topic of COVID came up. Specifically how COVID has changed each of us in a positive way. Although we each had a variety of answers, a common one was that the pandemic made us realize how precious life is and just how unnecessary some things in our day-to-day living are. We all agreed that being intentional about our days has now become a priority. Perhaps you feel the same way.
My husband and I got back from a stay in Florida a few months ago to realize that both our hot water heaters weren’t performing the way they should. We found out when one of us (me!) took a shower. We’d been in numerous airports all day and I was looking forward to a long hot relaxing shower. All was going well until about five minutes into my shower when lukewarm water replaced the hot water. No matter how much I messed with the temperature dial only tepid water would come out. Needless to say, that was the end of my shower. No relaxing! No post-shower in my warm and fuzzy robe! Just shivering.
You may have heard about the danger for a Christian to live a lukewarm life (Revelation 3:15-16). This danger applies to each of us in our everyday life as well.
When we consider the temperatures of water, we get a better understanding of the phrase lukewarm life. Hot water is a must for many things like doing laundry, cleaning dishes, and sterilizing tools. Likewise, cold water is a must to relieve sore muscles, increase circulation, soothe burns, and cool us off. Lukewarm water, on the other hand, doesn’t make as much of an impact. It’s so-so. It’s ho-hum. It’s tepid.
Do you feel like you’re existing with no purpose? Are you drifting along day by day? When we skate through life with no intentionality, or we take an “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow I die” approach, or when we do things half-heartedly we’re living a lukewarm life. We’re neither hot nor cold. We’re tepid. Lukewarm people shortchange themselves and discount the fact that they have a purpose and a responsibility to help those in need, to use their God-given gifts and talents, and to leave a good impact on others.
Give It Your All
Instead of falling into routines (wake-work-sleep, wake-work-sleep) it’s best for all of us to give it our all by being intentional about each day and not just leave it up to chance. But…before we can use our gifts and talents to help others and leave a good impact on others we have to be intentional about ourselves first.
So how can we make our days meaningful? How do we become intentional about ourselves? I’ve wrestled with these questions a lot lately myself and here are a few things I’ve come up with.
- Control the Chaos. Some people wear busyness as if it was a badge of honor. Sure busy people get things done, but they miss out on a lot of things too. When we juggle too many plates (commitments) a few are bound to fall to pieces. If we keep adding responsibilities, but we don’t take any away we’ll go nuts. The reality is less of some things will lead to more of what we really want. *put this also in a “tweet this” box
- Do Things That Light You Up. Say no to the rat race from time to time and yes to things you’re passionate about. When we intentionally do activities we love we come alive and, in turn, we inspire others to do the same. Doing things we’re wild about decreases our stress and increases our joy. Hike, bike, exercise, go antiquing, read, scrapbook, cook. Whatever it is, find the time to do it.
- Stop Complaining. Have a cause you’re passionate about? Want to see a change in something? Instead of complaining, do something about it! Join a friendly protest about a public policy you disagree with. Clean up your neighborhood instead of grumbling about the litter. Vote in the “minor” elections (not just the “big” ones that get the most publicity) and help elect someone who shares your views instead of ranting about it on social media. Support the small businesses in your area instead of complaining about big box stores taking over.
- Laugh. There’s nothing like the sound of a child laughing. When we were little we laughed a lot. Unfortunately, as adults, we need to be reminded to do it more often. We forget to be silly and laugh at situations. Laughter can be infectious. When we laugh we make other people want to laugh along with us. Find something to laugh about every day.
- Refuse to Fear Failure. Struggle makes us stronger. If everything we did was easy we wouldn’t learn anything. There are a lot of lessons to be found within our failures and struggles. Lessons like patience, time management, overcoming rejection, finding our voice, and a need for routine are just a few of them. The struggle isn’t fun, but it’s worth it!
- Get Curious. If you want to add meaning to your life and make it count you’ve got to get out of the rut you’re stuck in. Don’t just go through the motions or live on autopilot. Learning something new will break the cycle of ho-hum. Think about something that lights you up (see #2) and expand on it. Go one step further and try something entirely new. Deep-sea diving. Pilates. Run a marathon. Take singing lessons. The sky’s the limit when it comes to getting curious and learning new things.
- Turn Off Your Phone. Want to get really intentional about your life? Turn off your phone (or at least put it on silent) and engage in meaningful conversation with others. Be sensitive to what’s going on around you. Oh, sure, technology may be important but unplugging from time to time is too.
- Stay in Your Own Lane. Get intentional about not worrying about what others think of you. You’re one-of-a-kind. You’ve got unique gifts and talents. What others are doing shouldn’t matter to you. Life is not a competition. You can go at your own pace. Be authentic. Don’t try to fit in. Don’t be a “yes” person. Voice your opinion and state your needs.
- Hit the Reset Button. Have grace for yourself and let yourself off of the hook!. You’re not your past mistakes. We’ve all made mistakes. We’re never going to be the perfect mom, the perfect friend, the perfect spouse, the perfect employee, the perfect sibling, or the perfect anything! Perfection is unattainable. We all deserve a second chance so give yourself a “mulligan” and move on.
- Purge. Want to make your days meaningful? Get rid of the things in your life that are cluttering it up. Clutter comes in all shapes and sizes. Some clutter is obvious like the junk that has amassed in your basement storage area. Things like old bank statements, luggage from the ’80s, stacks of books, and VHS tapes. Some clutter is not so obvious though and it needs to go too. That toxic friend that talks behind your back and doesn’t support you. Those committees or commitments that you find it hard to say “no” that take you away from your family. The unresolved conflicts that are keeping you up at night.
- Rise Early. There’s a saying that if you win the morning you win the day. As a tried and true early-bird, I couldn’t agree more. There are numerous benefits to waking early. Waking early allows you to: take advantage of the quiet before the hustle and bustle begins, to pray and give praise, to focus on specific tasks without interruption, and to acclimate to the day (instead of rushing as soon as your feet hit the floor because you’re late). Not a morning person? Go gradually and wake up a few minutes earlier than your normal time each day.
- Express Gratitude. This life can be stressful (duh). When you’re stressed it’s hard to make your days count and have meaning. The remedy to stress is gratitude. Stress and gratitude are like oil and water. They don’t mix well. It’s impossible to feel both grateful and stressed at the same time. Be intentional and find something to be grateful for each day.
Take a Stand
I wrote a blog a few months ago about what you and I can do to make life slow down. Inside the blog, I shared a Don’t Blink sheet with my readers. You can copy it here. The simple act of coloring in the boxes is a visual to show how far down life’s journey you are. The sheet is a sober reminder that life speeds by in a blink of an eye.
I don’t have to tell you how precious each day is and that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. You already know this. Our days are numbered. Rather than wasting them, let’s take a stand and determine to be intentional about each one of them. Let’s be more deliberate. Let’s lead an all-in life, looking for where any needs are and trying to fill them by using the gifts and talents that each of us has been given.
So tell me, what are a few things you’re doing to be intentional in your life to help you make every day count? Send me a note and let me know. I promise I’ll reply and send you a few of my own intentional practices too.
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