Good intentions: ‘I meant to’

Playl's Ponderings


A couple years back, Annabelle and Lawrence were arguing about their seating arrangements in the back of their SUV.  Neither sibling was willing to concede…so Mom assumed the role of arbitrator.

“Sorry, Annabelle, but Lawrence asked to sit there first.”

“…but Mom! I MEANT to!”

“Uh…what’s that mean?”

“I mean, I meant to ask before he did.”

Later, when Stephanie was recounting the incident on the phone, we were laughing about how children interact…especially siblings.

Annabelle was embarrassed because we were talking about her, so I tried to explain to her why we found it amusing.

“It’s simple, Princess, we were laughing because y’all were acting like adults. See, grown-ups argue about being sure everything is fair, and everyone wants to be sure they get everything they deserve or want.”

Then I went on to explain that too often, all of us, especially grown-ups, have intentions of doing something, but we fail to do it. Then we are disappointed and angry, mostly with ourself, that we didn’t do or say what we meant to.

How many times have you missed an opportunity, then said, defensively, “I was fixin’ to do that…” or “…was plannin’ to…” or “…was meanin’ to…” then it becomes, “BUT I MEANT TO!”

All of us have seen a good work that we should have done, but after someone else did it we say – or at least think – I MEANT to do that. It happens to me all the time.

“I meant to help that person who was having problems.”

“I meant to pray for that family whose house was destroyed by some disaster.”

“I meant to take food to the neighbors who lost a loved one.”

“I meant to … be the Bible...go to up…write a letter.”

Someone said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Often our good intentions (our “meant tos”) are actually regrets, as in “I shoulda’… but I just didn’t.”  

 On the other hand, our regrets sometimes come with a negative emphasis. I didn’t meant to…or I “shouldn’t of…”

We live in a day when electronic devices and instant communication make it very convenient to say things we quickly regret, or maybe we have become so insensitive that we just build walls of hatred and anger, failing to recognize – “I shouldn’t say that” or “I didn’t mean it the way it came out.” Followed by a sincere apology, those words could prevent a lot of regrets…down the road a piece.

Our world would be a better place if folks would think before posting on Facebook or ranting on Twitter.

Perhaps we could learn from our mistakes and become mature enough human beings to consider the possible outcome of our actions and words ahead of time, then carry them out. We might just find ourselves saying, “I wish I hadn’t of…” and “I meant to…” a whole lot less.

The New Testament writer James advises, “…be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

Davy Crockett is credited with saying, “Be sure you’re right - then go ahead!”

Mae West said: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

As we enter a new year, it is especially important. Be careful what you say in 2023. Choose your words, but say what needs to be said. The greatest possible regret in eternity would be for someone to say to God, “I MEANT to ask about my eternal seating arrangements.”

--Steve Playl,


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