August 26, 2011

Misconceptions About Pursuing Your Passion

Aside from struggling to pinpoint our passions, fear is our absolute number one enemy. I will devote my next post to that great, paralyzing monster.

Today, however, let's dispel several misconceptions we often have regarding uncovering and pursuing our passions: 

  • I have to wait for permission: No one has to give us the go-ahead to shop for groceries, do the laundry, get the oil changed, do homework, pack school lunches, go to work, or volunteer for Vacation Bible School. Why not? Because they are often "shoulds" or "have to's". They certainly don't have to be menial tasks or obligations. But they become so when we do them only because we have to, because they are tasks that good wives and moms and church members do. But to start a ministry that is on our heart? To attend a photography class? To write a novel? To invite a younger woman into a discipleship relationship? To paint a room with bright colors that we love? We need permission for those, the things that stir our hearts and that we feel compelled toward. These are the things that feel like worship to us, but we hide them under a bushel, waiting for someone to give us permission to let our lights shine.
  • I don't have time. You really may not have the time, especially if you are in the can't-even-remember-your-name newborn stage. If that is you, you are blessed. God has given you abundant opportunities to give your life for the sake of another. In this stage, however, you can still cultivate your passions. This is the perfect time to ask God to clarify and crystallize what they are. It's also the perfect time to build a foundation from which to pursue your passions. Without a relationship with the Lord, you will grow bitter that your children keep you from pursuing your passions, your priorities will be misplaced, and your passions will become self-focused rather than others-focused. But even moms of older children feel that they don't have time, but I disagree. If you are serious about developing your passions, you must take what time you can grab: when you're children are napping, the time you usually spend in front of the TV or Facebook, the opportunity your husband offers you to get away from the house, early morning hours. If you look, you'll find it.
  • Pursuing a passion is selfish. It can be, but it doesn't have to be. As believers, God has given us gifts, talents, abilities, and that soul stirring so that we can create and worship and reflect grace and beauty to the glory of God. We should pursue our passions as a way to bless the Lord and to bless other people. When we enjoy how God made us and the passions He's given us, we reflect our creative God. For more on this idea, I recommend reading Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking, which has more to do with using our creativity to reflect the Lord than it does rote home-keeping.
  • I have to be really good at it, have it planned out, or know exactly where this is going before I will pursue it. OK, perfectionists, this one's for you. I am a recovering perfectionist so I feel qualified to speak to this one. If we believe this way, we'll never attempt anything that God is leading us to do. We'll live life in a little box of certainty and sure-things, never experiencing what it means to live by faith. What I've discovered is that the uncertainty and the not-knowing is a gift. It is an opportunity for faith and hope, yes, but it's also an opportunity to learn and grow. Just take a step and then take another and then another. See where it goes.
What would you add to the list? Next: that ugly, paralyzing fear thing.