November 26, 2013

Permission Granted

We don't need permission to do most of the routine things of life. I don't need someone to tell me that it's ok to tackle the piles of laundry; I don't need authorization to cook dinner (and am, in fact, probably looking for authorization not to cook dinner); and I don't need another's validation to pay the bills, help the kids with their schoolwork, or volunteer to help with a project.

Those are the things we tell ourselves we should do, and we mostly embrace the typical tasks of life as a means to serve God and others. And this is all well and good.
But what about the things that we think just maybe, quite possibly, might make our hearts sing? Those things outside the should box, those things that, if we're really bold, we might label our passions? Why do need permission, authorization, or validation to give a little time and attention to those? Why do we give ourselves to the routines of life without considering what gives us our greatest joys?

I'm asking you the question, but I suppose I already know the answer from my own experience and my own internal dialogue. Because it's selfish to pursue something I want to do. Because it's probably just my own desire but not God's desire for me. Because people will think I'm crazy. Because I don't have any time. Because I should be sacrificing myself completely for other people. 

When I started writing, I debated these things with myself. It took me forever to even listen to my own clawing desire to write, and then it took another forever to say it out loud, and then it took another forever to accept my husband's permission to devote a few hours to writing on his day off once a week. I had to leave him, I had to leave my babies, I had a closet I could clean out, I'm sure, or a person I could meet up with, I'm sure, and I felt like a horrible wife and mom and closet cleaner-outer and friend and all-around human being. aaaaagh. So I spent 80% of my three hours staring into a blank computer screen, going round and round in my head with my wimpy passion wrestling with my muscle-bound shoulds.

And then something weird happened. I'd write something that I knew no one ever would read, and through it I found that I'd processed some thoughts and theology, and a little sprout of joy popped up through the hard ground of my shoulds. I remember thinking, "Is it ok that I'm experiencing this kind of joy from something that I want to do?" I needed permission to experience joy, as if joy were naughty.

After a few years of this, of continuing to give myself permission, of continuing to spend 80% of my time staring into a blank computer screen, and continuing to accept my husband's prodding, I finally realized the answer to all of my doubts and questions. And here it is:

When submitted to the Lord, pursuing a passion feels like doing something you were made by Him to do. It feels like worship. I'm worshipping God by using my gifts for Him, even if there are no "results" from it.

For me, writing is not worship if I'm looking for a response, a validation, or to be on some bestseller list. There are times when God has to remind me of this because I get side-tracked by social media or by selfish desires. However, He gives me permission to do what He's made me to do (in all areas, not just writing) when it is for Him and when I do it to worship Him.

That brings joy. And we never, ever need permission for joy.

Are you waiting for permission to pursue a passion? How does seeing a passion as a means of worship change your perspective?