Intentional Formation

I grew up with lots of proverbs – pithy little sayings that contain a nugget of wisdom. The two I’m thinking about today are “You are what you eat” and “Use it or lose it.” I heard a fascinating story on NPR recently about the astonishing rise in nearsightedness in children. According to the World Health Organization anticipates “that by 2030, 40% of the world’s population will be nearsighted. In the U.S. alone, myopia rates have soared over the past 50 years, from 25% in 1971 to nearly 42% in 2017.”

As the mother of a kiddo who just got a glasses, the reason behind this rise was not surprising, but still troubling: “experts agree that something else is going on, resulting from a shift in how children spend the majority of their time. Too little time outside. Too much time indoors, often staring at screens. For a young child whose eyes are still developing, these habits cause their eyes to prioritize near vision rather than distance vision. In turn, their eyeballs begin to elongate, triggering nearsightedness.”

Y’all, the ways we use our bodies can actually reshape our bodies! If there weren’t enough reasons to beat myself up about screen time, here is one more. But beyond redoubling my efforts to make sure all of my family is up, out, and moving more – or at least taking a break to stare off into the distance – this story made me think about how we are often unintentionally formed.

We are each dealt a certain hand at birth – where we come into the world, who our parents are, their education and genetics and challenges, our skin color, how much money is around and what opportunities there are. These things just happen and it’s not fair.

But we all have some agency when it comes to playing our hand, what we can make of ourselves, what things we can choose or not. We don’t all have the same power over our destinies, but we can take an active role in how we are formed, how we grow, how we develop.

I am learning more and more the things I don’t know. To that end, here are some of the podcasts that have kept me company this past week. They are a part of my intentional formation. If something sparks your curiosity, I invite you to give it a listen. And if you have things you’d like to share with me, please do!

Why Flying is Miserable and How to Fix It with Ganesh Sitaraman – Pantsuit Politics ( or wherever you get your podcasts)

How to Connect with Friends More Regularly – The Lazy Genius Collective (

How to Finally Forgive with Nadia Bolz-Weber – We Can Do Hard Things (

And if you’re still curious about kids’ eyes, the full article is available here:

We have another great Sunday ahead of us as we continue our journey to Bethlehem with Joseph’s story. I’m praying for you. I hope you’re praying for me.

Pastor Jessica.