What Are Your Intentions?
“I could use some prayers.” Other times, these words are spoken, texted or posted in what seems well-intentioned form, yet often times are just uttered in the moment with no real action of actually praying. It is a hollow echo of posting something that sounds good, and that has become the norm.
These words are akin to another set of seemingly well-intentioned words: “let me know how I can support you.” I suppose that in either instance, there is this inherent sense that the hearer of these words will be the beneficiary of the doer of the words. But what happens when there is no doing? What happens when there is a real need and expectation that prayer will be offered and that support will be given?My mother used to always say, “if you don’t mean it, then don’t say it.” She would follow it up by saying that there’s not much worse than offering to do something for someone and then never really intending to follow up on it. I am not talking about an accidental oversight or an emergency. I am talking about a lack of genuinely meaning it. It is what my mom called "volunteering a lie that she didn't ask for."
In that we are created to be in community with one another, I would argue that there is indeed an expectation that someone would genuinely show care, concern and compassion. And in many instances, it happens just the way it is intended to happen. Good intentions that turn into done intentions because an intention is a plan to do something that you said you would do. Your intentions have power. Your realized intentions can positively impact a situation.
So, what are your intentions? What power do you want your intentions to have in community?Social media has created a community. And while some use it to pander, others use it for good intentions. It leads me to wonder, though, just what kind of impact social media has in creating hollow echoes. I remember the moment when I responded to a posted request for prayer and I felt disingenuous in doing so because it felt repetitive and expected. After all, there had been twenty or more persons who had already posted that they were praying. That’s when it became real for me. I decided in that moment that if I was going to post that I was praying or would pray, then I’d stop right then, pray for the person, and then post that I prayed. It’s not some celebration of myself for announcing that I had prayed; rather it is an acknowledgment that if I didn’t mean that I was really going to pray, then I shouldn’t say it.
When it comes to voluntarily telling someone that you will support them, but then you refuse them, never respond, and act as if you are oblivious to your offer, or to what they are experiencing in their most challenging times, that is just as disingenuous. Intentions are important. I’ve seen people abandoned by other people who offered support and never received it. I’ve seen the creek dried up because the person who uttered that they’d support, didn’t support. Instead, the person willfully came and drained the water. Thankfully, though, there are persons who are well-intentioned in their offer and they actually follow through and do.
Before you offer to do something again, it would be wise to think through the best way to follow it through – and then actually do it. There is no difference between the “almost” of your intentions and the “nothingness” of your accomplishments. Don’t just speak or post intentions. Be diligent and genuine in actually doing it.