by Jared Humphers

There’s a quote by Henry Thoreau that has stuck with me ever since I read part of his book, Walden, in American Literature class in college:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…”

Ever since I heard that phrase, combined with prayer, I started to view life differently. I started really seeing the value of time and how short life really is. Without realizing it, I had just been going through life without being intentional. I had goals, but not really plans to get to those goals. I was alive, but not really living.

Then, when Dr. Gauthier assigned us a portion of Thoreau’s Walden, I realized how important it is to have a plan. That’s when I started changing some things, and here are a few things I’ve learned from that:

  1. Being Alive vs. Living

You weren’t just meant to be alive. You were meant to live. Here’s the difference: anyone can be alive, go to school, get a job, get married, and genuinely have an overall good life. However, really living involves the person making a choice to step outside their comfort zone and really follow the path God has laid out for them. This doesn’t mean that it won’t require some work on your part, though, which leads me to…

  1. Being Intentional

While living can be freeing, it’s important to note that it does not mean living care-free (to quote my music theory teacher, “don’t shoot from the hip”). Opposite of what it may seem, it requires self-discipline to live intentionally in a world where there are so many opportunities (which unfortunately bring many opportunities to get distracted). This can involve simple things like saying “no”- which doesn’t necessarily mean “never”, just “not now”- and prioritizing what needs attention now, and what can be done later. It also doesn’t mean scheduling everything that comes up: it’s important to not confuse productivity with busy-ness. Set goals and be honest about them- a good rule of thumb is to set goals that are achievable but will stretch you. Then, stay focused- if something is hindering you from reaching that goal, simply remove it (again, it could very well be “for now”).

  1. Follow through

At the end of the day, passion without action isn’t really effective. Possibly the biggest and most important battleground you’ll step on is a place right above your eyes: your mind. It will take some bending and re-arranging to re-train a mind, but in the end, it’s very much worth it! If something can be trained, it’s very possible that it can be un-trained (this goes for habits, attitudes, and more). However, it isn’t enough to only have a plan- you’ll need to have some “micro-plans” to help you reach your big plans. For example, I have a goal of going to Washington D.C. to sing and play at a “community Christian worship event” that has 24/7 live worship music playing. However, my ability is not to that level yet- if I went tomorrow, I wouldn’t do great! So, I’m focusing on working through scales, jumping from one note to another, and more- all with my main goal of playing and singing at this place in mind.

  1. Be Yourself

Lastly, it’s crucial to understand that you are not anyone else. This should hopefully clear up the myth that someone is more valuable to the Kingdom than another person (there is a difference between earthly value- I wouldn’t be a good resource for learning how to fish- and Kingdom value- doing what we’ve been created to do). Just like a goalkeeper and a forward in soccer are, so are we: two people trying to accomplish the same goals (getting closer to God and helping others do the same) using different methods. Once we can grasp that concept, it frees us to relax and be who we were made to be and do what we were made to do.

So, how exactly do you learn how to… be yourself? I’m glad you asked- stay tuned for that post coming soon!

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