19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Even in middle school, I was someone who loved setting goals. I’ve found my old journals from that era and my lists of To-Do’s are well recorded. So, for as long as I can remember, the resolution-setting blitz that January brings has sparked joy for me. I love thinking about what it is that I want to GET DONE before December 31 rolls around and I make my list. As the year progresses, I find great satisfaction in crossing off the items as I accomplish them—races run, books read, chores completed. Of course, all the things on my annual list don’t get done by year-end. Actually, there’s a lot of them left-over. Recently I’ve realized I have a tendency to pile on the To-Do’s not because they are things I want to do, but often because they are things I feel I should do; I’m supposed to do them though I don’t exactly know why.
I must admit that creating a long list of “should” and “supposed to” To-Do’s is a bit anxiety producing. What happens is that instead of enjoying the process of moving along throughout the year, there are times when I see the list and feel my blood pressure rise as I consider how far “behind” I am in getting things done. Some time around late Spring the joy of January opportunity has waned. I see all the boxes waiting to be checked and suddenly I am unsettled. This anxiety pushes me to “just get through it” so I press down hard on the gas pedal of life in an attempt to charge ahead through the list. As you might suspect, there is no joy or pleasure in this method. It is difficult to celebrate achieving anything on the list because there are so many other items demanding my attention next. My goals feel burdensome rather than blissful.
I was lamenting this to a mentor of mine some time ago and he challenged my goal setting self with this question: “What if when you woke up every morning you asked yourself not ‘what in the world do I want to DO today?’ but instead ‘how do I want to BE in the world today?’” He further explained when we set our mind on how we want to behave, focus on the way we want to approach others and our tasks, we establish our mindset and it alters the manner in which we proceed. Wow, right? Similarly, my health coach this year challenged our group to consider choosing a word to guide our actions and decisions throughout the year; to set an intention. Her guidance was to choose a word that symbolized what it is we want more of in the coming year. I love this idea because it gets at the nuance between our goals and our purpose: our goals are the what, our purpose is the why.
This past year I had several moments in which I felt God was pointing out to me the ways in which He has gifted me and simultaneously the ways in which I was not appreciating those gifts. He has gifted me a strong capable body, but I had not treated it well for some time and it was burdened with extra weight and deficient of the real food and nutrients it needed. He has gifted me with an opportunity to not have to work full time, but I was often using my time during the day on frivolous activity. Most importantly, I felt God nudging my attention toward the gift of words and writing he’d given me. I wasn’t using that well either. When considering my intention word for 2020, my mind rested on 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, HONOR God with your body, your time, your gifts.” Honor. I knew immediately that was my word and I love the idea of how it will shape my year.
When considering how I will use my time it will be easy to ask myself, “does this honor God by the way in which I’ll be using my body, my time or my gifts?” My daily goal is to honor the gifts I’ve been given: my relationship with God, my husband and children, my friends, the 16 waking hours I have each day, my health, my talents. As of mid-January, I’ve still written down some big To-Do’s for myself this year: 1. Reach my goal weight 2. Run a half marathon 3. Write my blog—these are my what’s. I’ve always been good at the what’s. But now I am on the path to why and that’s what I’m excited about. “Honor” tells me it’s about more than just checking off those boxes; it’s about how to be in the world. There is a greater purpose, a bigger reason than for just getting things done. It’s no longer just about because I want to but because I choose to acknowledge that God has given me so much and I cannot take that lightly; it deserves honor. So what about you? You’ve written your list, set your goals, but have you figured out your intention behind them? Do you know what it is that you need more of this year? Have you considered how you want to be in the world as you go about checking off your list? The good news is there’s no right or wrong way to go about it though you’ll probably get more out of it if you’re intentional about how you do. I’d love to know what you come up with.