“It was great running into you. Let’s do lunch.”
“I’d love to—stay in touch.”
Friends hug and wave goodbye as they step in different directions with their minds already on the next destination. As days pass, then months, their sincere talk of lunch is locked in the past.
To remedy this “out-of-sight/out-of-mind” situation, the zeitgeist advises, “Be intentional.” Decide on the lunch date and enter it into the calendar before walking away. If a friend is hurting, don’t just think about her, intentionally pick up the phone to let her know. In conversation, concentrate on the speaker and the message behind the words. Enter into what the person is saying. Be an intentional listener.
I jumped into the intentionality pool with both feet and accomplished more, met with people more, and felt pretty good about myself. Until….until my being intentional, or someone being intentional with me, felt like playing a one dimensional board-game with game figures representing us.
I didn’t notice the gradual hardening into shiny plastic, though the other person probably could. Now I can tell I’m sliding across the boxes on the board when my motives devolve into ought-to’s. I might even wait on the other person to move or keep score. Other callings on my life, like blogging, also lose heart when they become deadlines or obligations. When that happens, they send messages that sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Blah, blah blah blah, blah blah.”
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1
Long before his prodigal brother tramped home, the older brother’s work for his father had transitioned into intentional duty. When his father opened the party floodgates for the treasonous brother, the eldest brother’s veins were brittle with resentment. He had worked for reward, forgetting that the prize was already his. His father loved him, and the son could have celebrated any time. Permission was a “given,” but the oldest son didn’t receive it, because he was driven by intention not guided by love. Like the son, I must guard against approaching God more through intention than love.
(Love) is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1Corinthians 13:6-7
Mindfully engaging with people or setting goals are good moves, but keeping my heart pumping while being intentional is crucial. When I run into an old friend and the date arrives for our intended rendezvous, instead of thinking, “Oh, I have so many things to get done, I wish I didn’t have to keep this lunch date,” I must stand up and stretch, then reorient to her with God’s three dimensional love. I remind myself, “I do want to spend time with her. I love her. I want to catch up with her life and share my life with her too.”
Love must be sincere.” Romans 9:1a
We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
Loving people and God sincerely are the objectives, even if I burn the roast or don’t write a Pulitzer Prize winner. Nobody wants to be a project, but everybody wants to be loved.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.