Intentionality: ‘the fact of being deliberate and purposive’

Intentional. Deliberate. Calculated. Conscious. Intended. Planned. Meant. Studied. Willful. Purposeful. Premeditated.

I currently have the word “Intentionality” written in large, chalk letters across the glass door in our dining room- the one I look at dozens of times a day. My children talk about the word, I see it regularly and it is driving me insane!

My husband is by far the best person to choose any new appliance we may need for our home! He will not choose it quickly (not by any means), but he will choose well. If choosing were an Olympic sport (with no time constraints), he would be a gold medallist.

He starts by looking at why we need said appliance and for what purpose. He will quite likely write up a very thorough list of requirements (which,on our list, always includes extra length, height or the potential to extend…think vacuum cleaner for 6ft 7″ giants…which is exactly how tall my husband is). He will revise this list at least once or twice. He will then do a little market research to find out what brands are available and what the rough costs and advantages of each brand are. This he will detail in an Excel spreadsheet (he has mad Excel skills), taking into account the history of both the company and the track record of the specific product. After he has done a random survey of our friends and relatives to discover their personal preferences and experience with said products, he will then make a choice…of his top two or three products before launching a thorough investigation into the actual cost of the ‘Top Two’. Once he has found the best item, with the best features at the best price, he will ask for my input, make the necessary adjustments and then announce that his decision is made. NOTHING you say will dissuade him from his decision that it was the best choice. NOTHING!!! And he is almost always right (except for the odd occasion when I am ! )

Now to some, this may seem like a painful process, but it works for us. I can live with an un-vacuumed floor for a while, or a sputtering fridge, or a clanking car….but in the thirteen years we have been married (and the 18 years we have been together), we have owned one fridge (which is as good for the five of us as it was for the two of us…because he thought ahead about that…and it has never broken down), one vacuum cleaner (which is heavenly because we can both use it without getting a sore back and it deals very effectively with the regular moulting of my long hair and the excessive crumb-to-son ratio we experience on a daily basis) and one bed (custom made so that we can stretch out without our feet dangling off the edge) and one washing machine (which is a family-sized front loader that loads from the top and takes up next to no room in our small house) and the list goes on….

What this proves is that my husband is, in this particular area, a man who demonstrates a great deal of intentionality. He is spontaneous in other areas, and  a great deal of fun to live with, but he is by no means rash. I love this about him…after all, it is probably what has kept us together in the hard times (that and a mixture of his devastating good looks and my phenomenal intellect !), not to mention the regular opportunity to practise forgiveness and a great deal of laughter).

The reason the i-word has been driving me insane is this: for years we have upheld the notion of falling in love as the pinnacle of our human experience of love. I think we may have been wrong. Along with the writing in chalk of the i-word, began a consideration of what I consider intentional love to be.

The opposite of intentional love would be accidental love…as in: “Whoops, I was walking along and just fell in love.” I have experienced that kind of love…the first time I fell it was for a man so far above me that I was bound to suffer. Superman never once called, never once returned my eight-year-old adoration. I married Clarke Kent instead (those who know my husband will know why this is apt…but I’m not saying anything about how he wears his underpants!) I fell in love with my husband when we were both eighteen..or perhaps it was into infatuation, because I remember a moment when I had to choose to love him more than just enough to say I’d go out with him…enough to really love him in the I-love-you-enough-to be-vulnerable way, the i-love-you-enough-to-let-you-see-the-real-me way…I chose to do that…with trembling hands and beating heart…time and again…in the face of other options…and in the face of doubts and disappointments and detours…

Did I fall in love with my babies that first time I held them squawking and bloodied to my breast? I think not…I loved them when I first decided that I wanted to be a mother, to have them, to create them out of the relationship I had with their father (and there was a surprise son in there too). I loved them when I started taking vitamins and planning for pregnancy. I loved them all through those forty weeks of waiting, of heartburn and aching back and stretch marks. I loved them passionately before they took that first squalling breath. And I’ve loved them every hour since…through countless sleepless YEARS and hospital stays, through the sleepless hours at their bedside praying that they would keep breathing till morning. I loved them enough for all of that…despite how they behave, despite what I actually have to give them. I can’t count the number of times I have sat weeping myself as I comforted a distressed or sick child because I was too tired to go on…but I did go on…I do go on…because I love…

Falling in love is wonderful, but it is at best, second best to something far more powerful. Intentional love. Love that chooses to love, to stay, to forgive, to believe the best, to give, to love in all its many shades of meaning.  I know my husband chose me, chose to love me, and he stands by that every day. I love him for it. I am grateful for it. I am trying to emulate it. I know where he learned it too. He is a man who has his own faith, who speaks openly of his relationship with God and how that changes and shapes his life. He says he loves because he first was loved…unconditionally…with intention…by the God who defines love. There is something in that, no matter what your personal beliefs are.

Intentionality…its a bugger but it gets me every time!



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Hilary
    May 15, 2011 @ 20:26:32

    This brought tears to my eyes! Love,the I kind ,is not easy but reaps it’s own rewards and gives back in return .
    Love Charlies mum x



  2. Kenny
    May 11, 2011 @ 17:50:56

    Ari, this is so incredibly profound, touching and funny! My absolute fave of all your blog entries so far!



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