I didn't realize it when it was happening, but I first used the power of intention after a drunken night with my friends when I was 18-years-old. I had graduated from high school the week before and some very responsible parents (hear the sarcasm?!) of a classmate of mine bought a keg and left it for the senior class. Word spread fast and soon we were all at my classmate's house creating epic memories, or something like that!
At one point in the evening, I stumbled my way onto the pool deck and had one clear thought in my intoxicated haze, "If I don't lay down, I will fall in the pool and drown." I was about to report to camp as one of the head life guards so it probably wouldn't be good if I had a mishap with a pool on my way to camp! I lay down and all of a sudden I was completely sober for about 3 minutes as I looked up at the night sky. We lived in a tiny town away from all cities in Northwestern Wisconsin and on that warm May evening, the sky stretched like inky black velvet sparkling with a billion diamonds. I remember having this one crystal clear thought, "There must be a god!" Here, we must pause as I give you the background on this thought.
I attended church because that is what good people do, but I was not convinced God even existed and if He did, I was pretty sure He could care less about me as most Sundays we attended as the perfect happy family and the emotional abuse began as we pulled out of the parking lot. I had my doubts that a good God existed because my dad was out-of-control in how he treated his family while still saying he had a relationship with God. I wanted nothing to do with a God who seemed to condone fathers abusing their families.
The other piece of background relevant here is my friend David committed suicide two years prior and that had opened up the messiness of my life. In grieving for David and his choice, his choice became a viable option for my life as well. We had a similar existence of fathers who expected a lot and damaged relationships with their choices and we both felt we could never measure up or be worthy of love. Thus began my two year battle with suicidal ideation and attempts. My parents took me to several counselors, but as soon as they asked to interview the entire family, we would leave in a hurry with my dad yelling,
“It’s her problem, not ours. She’s the one who needs fixing.”
Back to the stars in the sky that sobered me up for all of three minutes…Fast forward to the next day, after sleeping late to awaken to my mom telling me I needed to get up on this beautiful day and do something, anything, I angrily disappeared into the vast acreage of my parents' home. I arrived in a field above the lake and fell face down in tears. I had this dueling conviction that I wanted to die and I wanted to live, but I couldn't live like this. The stars and my thought from the night before came flashing back, so I thought "What the hell, it couldn't hurt. I am not successful at dying, so perhaps I am supposed to figure out how to live." I started talking out loud through sobs. I spilled out all my anger, confusion, and pain and then I said something that I now know was a primitive intention statement. I angrily spouted, "So, God, if you are real, you had better show me."
The intention buried in that angry utterance was, "I am willing to practice living as if there might be a god." That is what I did. I operated under the assumption that God might exist and that whomever God was, might care if I lived.
Little did I know in that moment, but the trajectory of my life had just changed forever. It isn't that everything became easy and I all of a sudden lost the desire to die. What did change is I did feel a spiritual presence that I began to trust as God and I was able to feel less alone and more understood. That bond with the spiritual has become the North Star of my life because I now see looking back that God was partnering with me to bring me into a better headspace and to see my worthiness of love.
The intention has shifted a bit in that it flows out of what I call my relationship with God. I have come to believe God is love and light and when we partner with God, we can bring that love and light into the world. My intention now is, "I am willing to practice being loving in all my relationships," because learning to love myself has made all the difference in how I relate to and love others. That is another blog post for another day. And that star upon my wrist reminds me of the power of love and light in a darkened world, giving me the jolt I often need to choose love.