By Andrea Miller
’17-’18 Service Year
If there is one value I have learned to embrace above all others in my service year, it would have to be intentionality. I’ve had to learn how to be intentional with my time, my relationships, my faith, my community, etc. Intentionality calls us to be “purposive” and “deliberate” in everything that we do. I don’t know about you, but being intentional all the time sounds a bit difficult. And the truth is, it is hard! I am no expert on how to do it, but I believe recognizing it as something important goes a long way.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned since entering Camden is intentionality within relationships. While I was in college, I took advantage of the fact that I lived with and saw my friends almost every day. We all lived within a 5-mile radius of each other in this little college bubble. I was eternally blessed with a beautiful Catholic community of all ages while at the University of Delaware, but these relationships dramatically changed upon my move to New Jersey. I had to learn to make intentional time for the people I love in my life, including phone calls, video chats, and in-person meet-ups. This challenge made me more conscious of how I am spending my time, and who I am spending my time with, something I didn’t always think about in college. I have come to realize what relationships are life-giving, and others that are not as life-giving. Do we spend enough time on the important relationships in our lives? Are there people in our life who don’t allow us to be the best version of ourselves? Do we have enough people who can lift us up?
The biggest relationship I struggled to be more intentional with is my relationship with God. I was very active in my campus ministry in college and tried to express and grow in my faith in many different ways, but this all changed after I graduated. The normal ebb and flow I had suddenly came to screeching halt, and I had to figure out what ways worked best for me in expressing my faith. This is a continuous evaluation, but I found that beginning my day with the Direction of Intention, a prayer at the heart of the daily spiritual practices of St. Francis de Sales, became a necessary in order to ground me and shape my perspective of taking on the day. I also found that journaling really helped me, along with daily Mass. Having to learn to be intentional with this time pushed me to re-evaluate what areas of my faith life I needed to work on. I found a greater need for the Scriptures and spiritual literature in my daily life. Do we make time for God in our daily lives? Are we living our best faith lives?
The last challenge I have faced thus far with intentionality has been within community. I have never lived in an intentional community, so coming into my service year, I had to work on being more intentional with the way I carry myself. Each day presents its own challenges, but living in an intentional community has been truly life giving as we share meals, laughs, prayer, faith, time together, and so much more. The opportunity to grow and learn from other individuals has made me a stronger person in recognizing my own values, but what other qualities I value in a community. Do we have an intentional community in our lives that challenges us and allows for the opportunity to grow?