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Why Good Intentions Aren’t Good Enough

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Two years ago, I uprooted my little life and moved 12 hours away from my Alabama hometown to Houston, Texas. It’s been one of the biggest adventures I’ve ever lived…and also the furthest-away-from-home I’ve ever lived. Up until my 28th year of life, I’d never lived more than 4 hours away from my friends and family.

This was an exciting move for me, but one that also meant in order to keep my relationships and friendships back home strong, I’d have to become extremely intentional. Nevertheless, I packed my bags, and stuffed as much as I could in my little car and headed west. I wasn’t worried about my friendships, I thought.  We all had good intentions of staying close.

But sometimes, just having good intentions isn’t good enough.

About a year after I’d moved to Houston, one of my great friends from high school got engaged! I was so excited for her, and knew I would try to make it back home for the wedding if I could. I’d travelled back home a lot earlier in the year for a few other weddings, and my travel fund was started to get a little skimp. I’d also started getting really involved with some big volunteer events in Houston, and it seemed that many of them would be coming to fruition around the same time as her wedding. I wasn’t quite sure if I’d be able to make it after all.

Shortly after she got engaged, I was home for Christmas and our group of friends from high school got together. We picked up right where we left off even though we had not seen one another in quite some time (the universal sign of really great friends). After several hours together, we were all congregating outside saying our goodbyes, when I hugged my friend and said (in a pretty nonchalant tone), “Okay, friend – I’m not sure I’m going to be able to make it to your wedding, so take a ton of pictures. I can’t wait to see how beautiful you look!”

The look on her face expressed a deep disappointment.

“You’re not coming?” she asked.

I got all skittish and weird, and told her I had so much going on back in Houston that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get back that month or not. I fumbled through my words and immediately knew I had made the wrong move.

You see – I had all the good intentions of communicating this potentially disappointing news to her, but I failed to implement any action out of those intentions. And without action, intentions are merely just ideas. Without preparations, they’re just plans with poor aim. Had I taken the time to think through the delivery of the news that I might not be able to make it to one of the biggest day’s of one of my greatest friend’s life, I could have communicated it to her in a way that would have been better for both of us. In a way that could have spared some hurt feelings. Instead, I flew out on a whim and ended up hurting both of us.

In the end, I was not able to go after all. A big, unexpected cost surfaced two months before her day and since I run a pretty tight budget, I was not able to afford the trip back home. This friend understood and I celebrated her from afar.

So at the end of the day, it is a wonderful thing for your intentions to be good ones. But it is important to remember that your good intentions are just that – YOUR intentions. It is all well and good if your intentions are pure, but if you pay no mind to a) the people your intentions will be affecting, and b) how you communicate them/implement them/put them into action, then what you intended to be good, might not end that way.

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