Several weeks ago, after spending some time with my kids at the beach, I came home with a new appreciation for each child’s giftings and strengths/weaknesses. An idea that came to my mind at that tender moment was to take a few minutes, perhaps over the next several weeks, and let them each know how much I appreciated them.
I am a firm believer in the power of positive words and encouragement. The word encourage literally means to “…put courage into.”
Not that I have always lived up to my high expectations of myself in terms of conveying positive attitudes to my family and friends. I can often be a glass half empty kind of guy if I don’t watch myself.
However, on the day after my beach return, I texted each of my kids with an encouraging word or two about a personality trait that I saw in them that blessed me. My intent was to continue this until time ended but, as with many good intentions in our lives, I let several days pass before I thought about this again.
Yesterday, while resting from yard and garden work, the phrase, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” popped into my head. I took a few minutes to search the web about this phrases meaning and origin and was amazed at the amount of information there was to read.
And while there is no forgone conclusion as to its origin, the phrase seemingly means, on the very surface, that good intentions without action are worthless. If you dig a little deeper into the phrase, there is also the thought that many good intentions turn out bad results.
In an article about this phrase in Psychology Today, the author states: “Very few people have bad intentions. But most of the problems in the world are caused by good intentions. They may not seem good to us, but they seem good to the one taking the action. Good intentions alone are not enough to make our actions moral.”
From a Christian perspective, I have often heard it said that we judge ourselves by our intentions (acted on or not) and others by their actual actions. In that respect guess who is always going to come out ahead.
Wikipedia has this to say about “the road”. The road to hell is paved with good intentions is a proverb or aphorism. An alternative form is “hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works“.
One meaning of the phrase is that individuals may have the intention to undertake good actions but nevertheless fail to take action. This inaction may be due to procrastination, laziness or other subversive vice. As such, the saying is an admonishment that a good intention is meaningless unless followed through, which is notoriously difficult for common good intentions such as losing weight through dieting or quitting smoking.
A different interpretation of the saying is that good intentions, when acted upon, may have unforeseen bad consequences. An example is the introduction of alien species such as the Asian carp, which has become a nuisance due to unexpected proliferation and behaviour.
It is all very interesting.
The conclusion I have come to in my own life it this—I have always had more thoughts than actions. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing per se. But as time rolls on, it is our actions that we will be remembered by not our thoughts, which by and large remain unvoiced and rolling around somewhere in our memory banks.
So, within good measure, put the pedal to the metal on those thoughts that will build up your kids, your friends and co-workers. The dividends will be great even though we may not see them. This is not a pay it forward kind of scheme, but a way to release some of what we have been given in order to benefit and bless those who share the road that we are walking down.
Have a good day and a great ride.