Creating an intentional life has been on my mind for quite a few years now. There were a lot of things I wanted to accomplish or do in my life, and somehow time just kept passing without really creating or doing the things that I thought were important to me.
So I began slowly down a path of really trying to figure out who I wanted to become, what kind of life I wanted to live, what things were actually important to me and what things were not. And it has felt like a really slow process, one where I wasn’t sure if I was really making any progress at all. But I look back over the years and realize that even learning and growing in the right direction in small and simple ways has opened me up to making the bigger changes that have helped me more fully become the person I want to be.
It’s like the story in the compound effect. If you could choose a million dollars today, or 1 penny today doubled tomorrow and then that value doubled the next day – continued for 31 days what would you choose? If you choose the penny you feel pretty silly for the first little bit. 1 penny turns to 2 which turns to 4 which turns to 8 which turns to 16. For the first little while you are just collecting pennies. But come to days 28, 29, 30, and 31 and all the sudden that 1 penny has doubled over enough times that you have over $10 million dollars.
So for a while I kind of feel like I was just collecting penny’s. Trying to figure out what was important to me so I could live a more intentional life, and learning just a little bit here and there, line upon line.
And it’s been fascinating because although I have learned and practiced a variety of things over the years, I have also realized that I often want big changes from tweaking my life instead of changing my life. I think small changes can definitely make a difference, but it takes a lot of time and it is sometimes hard to stay motivated or see progress.
Often I have come to understand or know what I need to do, but lacked the full faith to pursue the course. I was reminded about this as I attended a class in church this last we. We were discussing the story of the rich young ruler in the New Testament. Basically a rich young man asks Jesus what he can do to make it to the Kingdom of God. Jesus responds by saying keep the commandments. The young man replies that he has always kept the commandments his whole life and wonders what he lacks. Then Jesus who loves him answers his question by saying the thing he needs to do is to sell everything he has, give it to the poor, and follow Him. And the young man is sorrowful because he loves his things.
And that is the story we get. And I think as I have reflected on this story in the past I have been pretty judgmental of this young man, but in revisiting the story I realize just how much of myself I see in this story. A few years (or months) ago I probably would have taken the position that the rich young ruler was clearly not as good as me. If I asked God a question and received such a direct answer, I would have immediately followed the counsel given to me 100% with all my heart, not gone away sorrowful.
And then I thought about how we eat a plant based diet. Almost two years ago I was sitting in a car, driving across the country, reading books like The China Study, and trying to figure out if members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints could eat a mostly vegan diet, and I experienced the most distinct impression of my life that eating a Whole-Food, Plant-Based diet was the way I needed to eat. It was a completely clear and straightforward answer to a question I had been pondering and seeking to know for what felt like a long time.
And while I easily and quickly gave up meat, dairy, and eggs 100%, I think I have spent the last two years feeling sorrowful about giving up sugary and fat filled treats and processed foods, because I love those things. So how different am I really from the rich young ruler?
Although the story concludes with him walking away sorrowful, I feel like if we could glimpse into his future life that wasn’t recorded there is a good chance we might find a young man who has given away all that he has to follow Christ. I don’t know how long it might have taken him, but I believe that in his goodness, and the sincerity of his question, he would have come to realize that the answer he received was from God and he might have desired to live in accordance to the words of Christ.
And I feel this way because I have felt recently that remembering of what I believe God has inspired me to do with regards to eating a WFPB diet has given me the opportunity to repent and return. To give it another chance. I know what I desire to do, what I want to become, and even what I feel God would have me do. I have taken some steps of faith and now I hope to expand that faith and move forward with full purpose of heart.
I have also been pondering upon a scripture we have been memorizing in our home “he who receiveth all things with thankfulness, shall be made glorious.” At first I took upon myself the attitude of sorrow for all the things I would lose by changing my diet. What if instead, I received the impression I had with thankfulness, gratitude that God would speak to me and give me personal direction and counsel. That is the attitude I am trying to adopt.
So I have been collecting pennies, learning and growing in my understanding of what I believe, who I want to become, the intentional life I want to live, and not just in my eating habits but in all areas of my life. And now I have a pretty good foundation of the person I want to be, but the knowing is not enough. It is the faith-filled, diligent pursuit of action, of living what you believe, that takes the pennies and compounds them into more.
This year has been a year of moving forward in faith. Taking actions in faith. Some days I feel absolutely incredible, living in flow and joy and happiness. Feeling like I am really the person I am meant to be doing the things I am meant to do. Other days are hard because in this pursuit I can more fully feel the disconnect between who I can be, who I want to be, who I intend to be, and the present imperfect me. I came upon a quote I wrote down a while back though that says, “The discomfort of growth is always better than the discomfort of stagnation.”
Even though there is a disconnect I am attempting to fill and it can get uncomfortable at times, I am still excited about the growth I am making and the potential I have to become.