Our passion is that which God has put into our hearts, that niche where He has both gifted and energized us. As someone who loves to read what others are saying, I have noticed a significant uptick in the mention of passion throughout books, blogs, and other media in the past several months. It seems everyone has a way to help you capture your passion, to make it part of your life, to live off it and even thrive through it.
In many ways, I find this excellent. Life without passion is painful. We all understand that, right? You live in this competing reality in which your heart is crying out for something and for whatever reason, it's simple to ignore that burning ache in favor of what you "should" be doing or what "makes sense" or what is "profitable" or "secure." It is agonizing to turn out backs on our passion.
Yet, I submit that much of the advice out there is equally damaging. The tips and tricks to harnessing your passion, to bringing it into alignment with your life goals and present situation, to mold it to fit your living, are noble, but dangerous. With this mentality, it is easy to fly right by your passion on your way to obsession only to find yourself, months or years or decades later, doing something you used to love, something that used to energize you, and finding it dreadful. Finding it tedious. Finding yourself doing your passion but not living it.
Because when we take control of our passion, we inevitably corrupt it. We put it in a timetable. Or a schedule. Or a deadline. We quantify it in whatever terms we can - days it took, efforts expended, income generated, compliments and criticisms, and beyond. It's as if our society says we have to justify our passion to make them worthwhile. To give them meaning. To even...make our passion legitimate. Without quantification, overscheduling, obsession, complete control, and the discipline to make our passion relevant, we are all teenage girls with flowery journals full of "poetry" or schoolchildren with sketchbooks of refrigerator art.
I find this to be true in my own journey of passion, as God continues to touch that place that sets me alive. I'm oscillating between these phases of getting stoked about this or that project and diving into it with energies, then as it wears on and nears completion, already quantifying it, getting ready to show it off, thinking about potential feedback, noting the effort and work put in, and setting arbitrary standards for whether I will count this "worth it" or not. Because I know there are people who are looking for those details, people who will look at me and say it's nice, but it's not meaningful. It's not a real contribution to anything. It just...well, it's nice.
Then the project ends, and I look at it with half-hearted satisfaction. So what happened? What happened was that I tried to turn passion into productivity. I tried to twist it to meet standards or arbitrary definitions. And as such, I lost my love for the work. My heart sinks because I look at my project and realize I missed the journey. I missed the love. I missed my chance to thrive through something God has put in me because all I could think about was harnessing that passion and making it...something.
There are too many projects like this in my life, and I'm betting in yours. Projects that began with such energy, that gave us the chance to touch something blessed inside of us. That drew us closer to understanding God and ourselves, to living out love in a radical way. To living passion.
How do we go about changing that?
The answer is simple. Instead of trying to harness our passions and draw them into our lives, we need to let our passions take control of us.
We need to let our passions define for us the moment. When our passion defines us, we live in an authenticity that needs no further explanation. And we find the following to be true:
1. We are making a real contribution, whether it fits some standard or not. Because we are working out of the fullness of who we are. Because we have tapped into what God intended for us. And God intends us for Him and for His community, so whatever we do matters. On an eternal plane.
2. We are more content with life in general. Our whole system of measurement has changed, and we have a keen eye for what really matters when we refuse to submit to some random standard.
3. Our energies are restored. When our passion fuels our work, instead of our work trying to fuel our passion, we find endless reserves of the strength, the fire, and the pleasure of simply doing what we do.
4. We have a better understanding of ourselves...and our God. We are able to live without contradiction. Without one reality competing against another. Without one idea of meaningful conflicting with a deeper appreciation for meaning.
5. We have fewer regrets. We aren't surrounded by projects, moments, or memories of where we lost touch with what we were doing. We aren't looking at things that remind us that somewhere...we lost it because we changed what matters. Living out of our passion lets us live fully and not look back wondering 'what if.'
We need to let our passion fuel us instead of looking for ways to fuel our passion. When we do, we will find our passion to be more than a noun (more than that which we do). It will be an adjective (that which defines us) and also a verb (that which we live). Yes, we can rediscover a passion for passion....if we let go and let passion lead the way.
What are you passionate about? Have you lessened your passion by trying too hard to take control of it? Where would it take you if you let it take the lead?