In the past few days I've been thinking about passion. I used to be very frustrated that I didn't have a passion (that I could figure out) for anything. It seemed very important to find something to be passionate about. Where did that idea come from? I'm not sure. It seems romantic to have a passion. It seems purposeful. At the time, it seemed stressful to NOT have a passion. Deficient somehow. It was one of the things that I worried about and used to judge myself. Was I passionate enough about God? Had He given me some passion for His purpose, and what was it, and would I miss it, and could I mess it up?
Then I guess I just got caught up in living my life and sort of forgot about having a passion. Recently, a friend brought up the whole idea of passion again, causing me to think, again, about whether I had anything now that inspires passion in me. In doing that, I had to think about what it means to me to have passion. For me, it means that I am very excited about something and want to share that excitement with others. It means that I think this "thing" I'm passionate about is very important and surely YOU think it's important too, or you will once I explain it all to you.
So, what are my passions? Sharing what God shows me (thus this blog), women's Bible studies (there's a special kind of magic that happens there), the truth (not what we think is true or want to be true, but what IS true), and understanding and combating poverty (my vehicle of choice is Compassion International). Those things excite me, they motivate me, I get energized when I participate in them, and I want other people to see what it is that is so exciting.
As I continued thinking about this, I realized that a huge, maybe key, part of passion is that we have to feed it. I have been involved with Compassion International for so long that I don't even remember when I started. 1994 sticks out in my mind, but. . . I honestly don't know. I have sponsored children for years. About five years ago I became a volunteer advocate, working at concerts and events and speaking at Compassion Sundays to try and get more kids sponsored. I traveled to Ethiopia in 2010 with Compassion. However, through these many years, my feelings of passion wax and wane. I pay my sponsorships each month and I faithfully (sometimes more often than others) write letters. But my excitement comes and goes. Yesterday, as I was reading two different magazines that Compassion sends out, and as I got a letter from the college student I sponsor, I started feeling excited again, and thinking about how I could spread the news about Compassion more, and participate more in the fight against poverty.
I believe that we can think we have no passion because we aren't investing or engaging with anything to stir up the feelings of passion. It parallels my Christian walk so well--when I am feeling passionless about the Lord, I need to first realize that the feeling of "passion" is nowhere in the Bible as a sign of true discipleship. It's great to feel the emotions of being loved by God, and loving Him, but the reality of my salvation remains with or without the euphoria. When I take the time to invest and engage in the Biblical disciplines of reading the Bible and praying, which are just ways to get me to slow down and spend time with God, I will often find my emotion returning.
I think I once was waiting for the passion to come in order to know what to do next, rather than just doing something and seeing if it led to passion. Sometimes we need to feed our passions (the good, productive ones) and pursue them, just as we need to feed our relationship with the Lord and pursue Him, because the engagement and involvement will grow the passion. I do think that each of us has a God-given passion about something, and that when we pursue it, we will be glorifying God in some way. It's not necessarily a "Christian" thing. It could be art, or soccer, or cooking, or. . . anything:
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)In The Message paraphrase:
Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.