Being intentional.

I was really good at living with intention before my husband died.  I was good about doing things with good reason and being thoughtful, even purposeful about what I did and how I did it.  I had the luxury of more time to think through my decisions and even more important I think…I had someone to share those decisions, reasons, and purpose with…I think for me it felt more intentional with a witness near.

Since widowhood began, I have been through many phases, stages, whatever we might call them.  One of the stages I have the most difficulty with is getting back to living with intention and purpose.  The widow in me thinks…what’s the point of being purposeful when the rug can just be pulled out from underneath me? The me in me thinks…how can I live a joyful, loving life without purpose and intention?

In my previous life, I counted on spiritual guidance.  I tried to live with an informed conscience and really take the gospel to heart.  I felt more at peace with myself and my choices.  I felt like I was spiritually grounded and intentional in my actions and how I lived my life.

This intention and purpose was present in my parenting.  I really thought about how and what I did affected my older boy (the younger one wasn’t here yet). I worked hard at being a thoughtful parent.  I had a partner who appreciated this and most times followed suit.  As a sole parent, my intentions lead to my perceived failures and guilt.  Intentional parenting and living have fallen away leaving me only with reactionary living…and for me this is not a peaceful place.  I am no longer proactive, thoughtful or intentional…and I miss being that way.

So, the struggle becomes how to balance the lack of control that I know there is in life with the hope to live with intention.  Intention takes planning and planning makes me a little sick to my stomach now.  The “what ifs” and fear of loss creep in and overwhelm me.  Instead, I have settled for routines that are guided by busyness and reactions that are guided by frustration.  I have lowered my expectations.  I hate that.

My spiritual center was rocked to its core when my husband died.  I still haven’t recovered.  My life that I lived as a prayer and with intention was betrayed when God didn’t provide a cure that would have kept life as I wanted it.  I felt abandoned on so many levels.  I was abandoned by my husband when he died.  I was abandoned by my God who neglected to cure my husband and let him stay on earth with me.  I was also abandoned by others I loved and depended on as they tried to cope with my loss.

So, I abandoned my life with intention and purpose.  What was the point really? I worked so hard to serve God, my family and others only to be left alone.  Six years later, I am still struggling with all of this.  My family is suffering because I can’t commit to them fully or to myself fully.  I can’t commit because of the pain that came when I was or am an intentional, purposeful and a full participant in my own life.

In this world of widow, it seems like every step forward is met with two steps backward. It feels most days like any progress made leaves me to face yet another challenge…and let’s face it I’m exhausted…physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  Most days, if I don’t have the routine I become overwhelmed and frustrated easily.  Some days, I take small steps toward being intentional again.

My hope?

My hope is that some how I can recapture a new way to live with intention and purpose.  My hope is that I can be proactive, not reactive.  My hope is that this struggle, feeling abandoned and exhausted will ease with each step I take toward living purposefully.  I can remember feeling peace.  I can remember feeling blessed.  I can remember being a thoughtful parent.  I know that I will never be what I was, but I hope that I can take the pieces of me that were important and morph them somehow into this life as a sole parent, single woman and a now somewhat reluctant servant of God.

Baby steps, day by day and even minute to minute we become who we are to be.  Sometimes our paths are changed and we don’t have a map anymore.  That’s where I have been living for over six years now. It’s my turn to put myself back into the journey.  It’s my turn to choose a route.  It’s only me who can abandon my fear and loneliness and choose to engage again in a purposeful existence. As much as I wish someone could do this for me, it is only my job.  It is my job to find my way back onto the path with intention and purpose.  Hopefully along the way, I will rediscover parts of me I have missed dearly.


5 thoughts on “Being intentional.

  1. A.T. says:

    Thank you for posting this. I found your blog link on While I am divorced and not widowed, I understand how painful a great loss is. It was so nice when I too was grounded, “spiritual,” and “together” while I lived in “security.” I would like to get back to where I was too :-). I wish you well on your journey….

  2. megan says:

    oh I so feel this. Right down to the reluctant servant of god.

    I’d commented when you first posted this, but my computer has been cranky, and I couldn’t post my comment. I bet that one was better written.

    I’ve had a hard time with going back to who I was and how I lived. I feel that despondent, annoyed, exhausted ‘why bother.” The context of everything was destroyed. All of those things that made my life what it was – being true-to-self, living intentionally and kindly, being honest in the moment, being slow and full of joy – what do they matter now. I’m quite sure I don’t need to detail that for you. My core has taken such an extreme direct hit, and there is no physical matt to go to anymore when my own center is tired and worn.

    But here is the thing. All of those practices gave me the life I had. Not doing them now makes me crabby and more irritated, and more angry at god and at life. Trying to live the way that I lived – while the context is gone – at least gives me – I don’t know – something. I can practice the paths that I practiced. If only because not doing so makes this worse. I’m not a full participant. I may not ever be in this life. I have this verse scrawled next to the computer – “only let us live up to what we have already attained” (phil. 3:14-16). Not that I tend to know bible verses off-hand, but I found it somewhere while feeling all this. The life I lived was beautiful, and the practices and intention I had in this life were beautiful – they only matter now in me, not for creating anything. Though it often takes far more energy and strength than I actually have, and I am constantly partnered by “why bother,” without core practices, I don’t even like being near me. And I am the only one I’ve got.

    That’s it. Last comment I wrote was better. …

    • cmt says:

      Hi Megan, I totally get that. For me if I do hold on to some to the things I did I do feel better. For so long though, I didn’t really even remember to do them. Grief is a tricky beast. I like your bible quote. The one I always think of is “there by the grace of God I go” I’m not sure where it comes from, but know it is only by the grace of God that I have gotten this far.
      Thanks for writing – sorry your first comment was lost – I think this comment was pretty good! Hang in there and be gentle with yourself – Chris

  3. amy says:

    I forgot about being intentional. How can that be.
    Like Megan I am trying to keep up with my spiritual practices to have something to hang onto. I am getting through and maybe going forward, but not everday. MOst of the time I feel lost and tired. Hope and acknowledging where I/we are at, will not take me back, but push/pull me forward. I just do not know anymore. I love your comment and you have said it before- to be gentle with yourself. I will pass it back to you.
    blessings and hugs

  4. Amy says:

    I am very sorry for your loss!

    You have a beautiful blog. I wish you well on your journey!

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