Weekly mantra that never becomes reality…
“I’m going to give myself enough time and space to tell the stories that I have lived.”
They are stories about the crazy inside, about love and family, and laughs on the kitchen counter (usually after we’ve cried first). They are stories about people I couldn’t imagine I would get to meet. They are stories of challenges I couldn’t imagine that we or others would face. They are stories of redefining what we thought ministry was and stories of rebuilding what we think it could be. They are stories of heartache and also the exact opposite—the kind of joy that cracks your bitter shell to pieces. They are stories of a Love so generous nothing in the universe could outgive it.
I want to tell the stories, every single moment—but wanting to tell them ALL often keeps me from telling just one.
So my personal challenge is to write just one story. Or reflect on one thing at a time. This is my thing for today.
I was on a dirt road leading to somewhere. I literally didn’t know where I was. I knew where we were trying to go (a village in Sri Lanka), but I had never been there before. I didn’t know which fork in the road was intended for us. There was a guide waiting for us after an eight-hour journey by van. But we couldn’t continue, because there were challenges—the evening was wild. Wild with elephants and fear and a people plagued with memories of terror in the night. Could this dead end and wild shift in plans be what it means to follow my passion? I stood thinking of the photos that wouldn’t get to be taken. But that’s when the passion conversation erupted in my heart. Was my passion and purpose in life to get in the field and capture a photo to send back to my Instagram account? I knew it wasn’t. That was never and never will be God’s intention for me. God was asking me to trust in the unraveling story. Because what was really happening was a return to basecamp, a backwards hike, a reset…so we could experience a level of connection that we may not have been prepared for otherwise.
Is this how God shows us how to live? By taking our breath away and upsetting the equilibrium just long enough for us to say—hey—there’s nothing else I can do but trust in you? Is this how it’s supposed to be—the seeming lack of forward motion giving us the strength we need to move further forward than anything we had planned?
I learned in the red dirt of a distant land that following our passions isn’t so much about us as it is about the story we get to be a part of when we give up some of the story we hoped we would live.
Passion is just as much about surrender and loss as it is about a positive life pursuit. Passion is the glue that keeps us on the journey. It’s both vivid mission and heartbreaking agony. It’s both. It really is both.
Following our passions looks a lot less like going after what gratifies us and more like going after the thing that takes our breath away.
It’s a journey of surrender and often surprises us with a story we couldn’t have imagined on our own—not without a guide to take us to the fork in the road that was much more beautiful than we could have ever imagined. It may have been the longer hard route, but it refined us in a way that nothing else could.
Our passions tend to line up with the “go” that causes our knees to shake, the kind that lend to worries because there are more “what if’s” than we have answers and more “how do we do this” questions than we have “we know how to do this” statements.
My husband has been reading a Dan Allender book recently, and he shared this quote with me:
“God invites us to follow our passions even when we are unaware that they exist.”
It poses a great question. What does following our passions mean, if we aren’t quite sure what they are?
How do we find the passion that delivers joy and invites us also into suffering?
So, passion is finding the place where you can suffer with those who suffer and also rejoice with those who rejoice.
Ask yourself, “What takes my breath away? What breaks my heart?”
These questions are good; hard, but they are good.
My husband and I are only six months into planting a church that we had three weeks to prepare for—so we’re still very much side cramping from a jog that turned into a sprint when we should have been running marathon pace. It’s not easy! We’re all figuring out how to love each other. And for must of us it starts with Jesus, humility and a whole lot of therapy.
The questions and the dreams are good—but when they get hard, we have to set ourselves up for believing that they are also good.
- You need a person or a practice that will help you look at the wounds of your past, help you figure out how you tend to cope, and give you some space to reimagine what life looks like when you live with helpful tools. If you want to walk into your passion—but you’re not sure how—ask someone to explore it with you.
- Learn how to tell your story better. Three questions you have to ask when learning to follow your passions: What’s your story? What’s your fear? What is a first step you can take to face it?
- Listen to the book The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron. Best. Book. This. Year. It helps us see how we were wounded as children and gives us opportunities to see our own coping cycles as potential areas of growth. To listen to (not read) Ian sharing about what it’s like to be a 7 made me laugh and made me cry. Keep learning about who you are. (A little side note: If you want to get the book for FREE here’s how. Download the HOOPLA APP right now. It links with your local library card for 12 free titles a month. If you don’t have a library card, then stop everything you’re doing and get a library card. Libraries exist to give you access to ALL OF THE BOOKS!)
I challenge you to learn more than you knew about yourself yesterday. Ask God to show you something new. Your passions are waiting for you, but maybe you’re not sure what they are yet and where they will lead you. Maybe you have some fears? That’s OK too. But you have a people and a Creator who can face your fears with you.