Children of God, made in His image are given the power, “to act for themselves and not to be acted upon[.]” (2 Nephi 2:26.) Yet how often do married people resort to blaming each other for their misery and even for their own angry outbursts? We can be acted upon by our own emotions and temperaments. To act instead of being acted upon requires deliberate forethought about how to act in certain situations.
Intentionality is deciding in advance what we want to think or do, and then deliberately overcoming our natural tendencies and impulses (see Mosiah 3:19) to behave consistent with our intentions. That is how we become the people we want to be. It is how we design a relationship and go about deliberately creating it. If we do not govern our relationships with intention, we inevitably govern them with emotion—which is a hot mess.
The statistical odds of divorce grow as we remarry after divorce and rise substantially with each subsequent marriage. How can we beat these odds and create stable and satisfying marriages? We must be intentional about being intentional. To overcome patterns of interaction or inner feelings that have not served us, we must be very clear and intentional about how we want to show up in future relationships.
The covenant path we are hearing about so often from President Russell M. Nelson is deeply connected to the power of intention to transform our character and behavior. When we make covenants, we make promises about what we intend to do and, more important, what we intend to become. The sacramental covenant testifies that we “are willing” to take the name of Jesus Christ upon us and “always remember him.” The word “willing” implies not only what we do today, but what we are “willing” to do in the future. Clear intention leads to meaningful action.
Clear intention also invokes the blessings of Heaven. As Jesus Christ taught:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8).
Humbly asking God for the righteous desires of our hearts will tend to manifest those things in our lives. The prophet Joseph Smith described his prayer as “offer[ing] the desires of my heart to God” (JSH 1:15).
Living with intention can transform our thoughts, our character, and our relationships.
LILY Pod Episode 22: The Power of Intention