If I’ve talked to you recently, you’ll know that I’ve been in an ongoing struggle with my intentions. As I’ve settled into post-grad life, I’ve realized that intentionality on my part plays a key role in what my life in the wider world shapes up to be, in addition to God’s will of course. I have to be more intentional in keeping up with old friends, in creating + maintaining new relationships, in my monthly expenses, and even in what I pack in my work bag on the days I go into the office, among other things.
So I guess it makes sense that earlier this year, I suddenly felt super convicted of the fact that my intentions in almost every aspect of my life were wrong. But what exactly makes an intention “wrong,” you might ask. For me, I’d like to think my primary purpose in everything I do and say is to glorify God + love others. That is, of course, the ultimate Christian ideal. But I felt that the reasoning behind a lot of my decisions had fallen out of line with that. In being brutally honest with myself, I realized a lot of what I said and did was to prove to others, and even myself, that I could be a “cool” and “chic” working adult in NYC, whatever that even means.
Now you might be thinking, impure intentions are nothing new – since we’re human, we all struggle with that. You’re right, and perhaps this is something that has been simmering below the surface for most of my life, I just hadn’t been willing to be honest with myself until now. But I think more than that, it was realizing that no corner of my life was left untouched by my impure intentions, and that scares the heck outta me.
Being a Type A, I scrambled to see what I could practically do to remedy the situation. I wanted to put an end to it and reverse the trajectory of my intentions before it got any worse. After all, I could do anything I set my mind to… right?
Wrong. I quickly realized that despite my very best efforts, I was making no progress and my intentions remained impure. And that frustrated me so freaking much. I hated that I couldn’t do anything to “save” myself from the guilt I was feeling and my mind grew restless thinking through other ways I could right my intentions. I even prayed to God and asked Him why He wasn’t allowing me to see any change, thinking that He would speed up the process if He saw how much I wanted to redirect my intentions to glorifying Him.
Then I went to a retreat with my church. The main focus for the weekend was the Holy Spirit, and it was there that I realized that by relying on my efforts to purify my intentions, I was totally dismissing the presence and purpose of the Holy Spirit. Intentions is a heart issue, meaning it’s practically impossible to change anything without intervention from and transformation via the Holy Spirit.
All this time, I thought I was being such a good + dutiful Christian by wanting to glorify God with pure intentions. But what I was really doing was demonstrating my lack of faith. Perhaps God didn’t really convict me of my impure intentions so that I would snap out of it and “make them right,” but it was more so to give me an opportunity to realize the power of the Holy Spirit and surrender to it.
Now, I’m actively trying to be patient + gracious with myself – not beating myself up every time I realize I have the wrong intentions but seeing it as a way to be in constant dialogue with the Holy Spirit. My prayer for myself is that He would transform my heart and strengthen my faith, and in the process, God would be able to use the things that come out of even the most impure of my intentions.
The Christian journey is far from perfect, but even still, I am super grateful for a patient God who lovingly teaches us things because He desires that we become more and more like Him. All while gently reminding us to love ourselves well because He loves us so!!
RECENT HAPPY TIMES
Words and thoughts courtesy of Jolene Chao, fearfullywonderfullyjo.com.