with The Reverend Gordon Clay Bailey
Living With Intention
or exist by default."
Happy New Year dear UUCLV family and friends!
Our congregation has big plans for 2022. We are working on a strategic plan so we may map out our next steps. We are celebrating our 70th year in May. We have stepped bravely into the new realities of a post pandemic world with all of the protocols and technological advances that we can muster. We are still in our honeymoon and yet as year two moves into its second half we still are learning about each other and figuring out the steps of our UU shared ministry dance.
The theme for this month is “Living with Intention”. What a great theme to begin a year with. It feels like it is time now for all people to set their course. To boldly go further than they might have gone before. To become the best incarnation of the self. The best you can be. The best UU, spouse, parent, sibling, friend, activist, lover you can be. And guess what that's going to take? You got it, it is going to take intentional living!
You know what, It seems like everybody is talking about intentional living lately, but what does it really mean? And why does it even matter? I'm hoping it matters to you too?
I’m passionate about intentional living, ever since I “discovered it” a decade or so ago, and it changed my life. I wish I always remembered but I'm trying.
As an adult I've pushed the envelope on what's reasonable living. Work, family, school, civic organizations, spiritual life, friends, did I say family... Being tired and overwhelmed is just part of being an adult, right?
Or so I told myself. Deep down, something inside me was screaming “this isn’t right!” but I didn’t have the time or energy to listen. I was too worried about keeping my head above water, doing the right things, being super_________. I think you get the picture.
So many of us lead “go, go, go” life styles. Too often I felt like I was always behind. I was over busy. Some of us, me too, are to busy to investigate that internal voice telling us to change our ways. Guess what we do? We shut it down. We keep on doing what we've been doing. We are into everything from new shoes to, a new job, to a new house.
I thought that having and doing more was the secret to finally feeling successful, but was it working? Not really. In truth, I was chasing so many things, but I felt like I was barely getting by. I had no idea what I really wanted or if my many sacrifices were even worth it.
Do I need to own a house? Do you like being married? Why are people working 60 hours a week? What did I want to do with my life? Where is all of this leading me?
Who knows! I wasn’t asking these question. Instead, I was just focused on getting through the week: How could I get through another day ? Did I have enough in the bank to pay the bills? When would I get caught up on my sleep? Does anybody care?
I daydreamed about doing somewhere else or even being someone else, but I never really thought about changing the paradigm. It didn’t feel possible because I felt trapped in my life, and the idea of change made me uncomfortable. Sometimes it still does to be honest.
Looking back, this was a clear sign that I needed to take a deeper look—but I didn’t. Instead, it was easier to continue living as I had. I made life decisions big and small based on what my perceived expectations of life were supposed to be.
Days rolled into weeks, and weeks rolled into years. It felt like life was passing me by … until I learned about intentional living. Here’s what you need to know. You don't have to have a cancer diagnosis to change. Unfortunately for me that is what it took.
Intentional Living is about asking yourself/ourselves what we really want.
Intentional living is asking yourself why you do things—and then being happy with the answers that you come up with.
Here are just a few questions to consider:
Why are your friends, your friends?
Why did you buy the last thing you bought?
Why did you choose your career/job?
Why are you with your partner?
Why are you working late?
Note how your answers make you feel? Do they make sense? Or are they confusing or conflicting? Did you struggle to answer some of these questions?
Living with intention means examining your choices and, if you’re not happy with what you see, making changes accordingly.
INTENTIONAL LIVING IS NOT ABOUT HAVING EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT!
But it DOES mean having a purpose behind your actions. I.E. Living intentionally.
Know that you can choose to be intentional about your direction without knowing your final destination. No one has everything figured out, and that’s OK. You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s OK too. Remember most of us if not all of us misstep at times. Many of us even make huge mistakes. It is a part of life.
How To Live Intentionally:
EVERYTHING STARTS WITH YOUR CORE VALUES + VISION!
You don’t need to have your whole life figured out, but you do need to know what matters most to you. Does this faith really matter? Am I on the right track professionally? Are my values in alignment with the lived experiences of my life?
Everyone’s core values are different. Mine include: care for myself, care for my relationships, lifelong learning, and freedom (just to name a few). These values inform my life vision, which in turn, guides my choices.
I try to reflect on my values and vision every single day. It’s simple really—define what matters to you and then, do whatever you can to align your life accordingly.
If you struggle with the core values, start by thinking of moments when you’ve felt good or happy, and then dig around. Generally, we feel good when we are living and acting in line with our values, and we feel bad when we violate our values. Or if you’re still confused about your values, then maybe this will help. I really like looking at our UU principles. Yes our eight principles. It is a starting place for me.
Did anyone ever tell you life was easy? Or that life was a beautiful garden that grows without any work?
I know that we all face obstacles (some people considerably more than others) and there will always be things beyond our control. Life is undoubtedly hard for many people.
Intentional living is about making the decision every day to live the life you want most. If you don’t have the resources, like time or money, It’s fine to start small. Sometimes it’s even better that way because consistency and perseverance are what matter most in the long run.
Now a word of warning: intentional living is not about perfection. You will fall off the wagon, you will make mistakes, and there will probably be times when you go months without doing the things you love. Life comes in seasons, so be kind to yourself please!
In a sense, getting lost and finding a way back to your purpose is part of intentional living. It’s a lifelong practice—with an emphasis on the practice. It’s asking yourself, every day, “What can I do that will point me in the direction of my dreams?”
It’s about tuning out the expectations and the noise and instead, making a conscious choice to live your life priorities—even when no one else knows or believes in your dreams, your values, your principles. Let me leave you with another bit of wisdom-
to live the life you were born to live.
Have a wonderful New Year! May your hearts be glad!
May you travel the path towards self actualization.
May good things happen for all of us!
Dear UUCLV live well and prosper!
In faith and love,