Life Seems to be Mostly Unintended

In Life Reflections by Chris Marshall

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You could be my unintended
Choice to live my life extended
You should be the one, I’ll always love.

I’ll be there as soon as I can
But I’m busy mending broken
Pieces of the life, I had before.

So, how’s it workin’ for you? Do you have the life you intended? Do you have the job you intended? Do you have the partner you intended? Do you have the body you intended? Do you live where you intended? Have you traveled where you intended? Have you accomplished by now what you intended? Has it all gone exactly as you intended? I’m going to guess … not exactly.

About 16 years ago I was studying the geographic, political and religious conflicts in Palestine and went on an intended pilgrimage. A few friends and I snuck out of our room in Bethlehem at about 1:00 a.m. with the intention of a little exploring and adventure. What we didn’t know is that as a Palestinian territory, the power was cut at night and the farther we walked, the darker it got, and we quickly became lost. We didn’t know the streets, we didn’t know our way back, and fear immediately began to creep in. Our intentions for adventure turned into silent terror; we wondered to ourselves how the night would turn out.

The street we pursued got more and more narrow and it led to an opening we decided to push through. As we passed through, we looked in the distance and saw flickerings of light in the countryside; they were the fires of modern day shepherds/bedouins beyond the traditional site of the birth of Jesus. We had wandered in the dark upon the courtyard of the Church of the Nativity.

We sat down in hushed silence and didn’t talk to one another, rather we received the moment for what it was. Our intentions were for adventure, what we encountered were the unintended consequences of a vision of THE adventure, the night God became man and decided to live amongst us. Life is full of unintended consequences.

Is our personal narrative meant to be intended? Isn’t that part of the poetic mess we call our life? Our lives are a mosaic of unintended consequences: the good, the bad and the ugly. The trick may not be at all to accomplish our original intentions but to roll with the punches of our unintentions. Life is about embracing the beauty of the now, not in the lament of the broken pieces of fallen intentions. Live in the now, live in your unintentions and breathe deeply of the beauty that is your real life, unintended as it may be.

Photo (Flickr CC) by young shanahan

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Chris Marshall
Chris Marshall is a husband to one, father to three and is still mostly just an Irish kid from Philly residing in Cincinnati. He works hard, plays hard and tends to live life out loud with a passion for community. He has spent the last 23 years teaching, leading and pushing for change in various forms within the contexts of church, education and business. Most recently he has completed his doctoral degree in "Leadership with Global Perspectives" from George Fox University where he studied and wrote on the role of missional communities in a consumer and postmodern culture. He is interested in helping others find the beauty in their ordinary lives and experience it in genuine community. Life is too short to do it alone.
Chris Marshall

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