This is the third part of a series of posts that I started a couple weeks ago. Each week will address a different self-evaluating question that I am using to help focus the direction of my time and energy.
Some of you are probably thinking that this question is the same as the last one. You would be wrong. Passion is often sold short as, simply, a synonym for something you enjoy. But passion is deeper than that. It’s capacity to bring us joy is often equaled, if not surpassed, by it’s capacity to bring us pain. There is something about passion that tortures us. There is a discontentment that can become pervasive and destructive. There is a dark side to passion. These are the things that keep you up at night. They can lead you into places of deep pain and sacrifice. They can strip you naked and leave you feeling deserted and alone. In other words…it’s not always fun.
In fact, one of the most passionate men in the Bible once said,
“Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying, ‘A child is born to you—a son!’ May that man be like the towns the LORD overthrew without pity. May he hear wailing in the morning, a battle cry at noon. For he did not kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave, her womb enlarged forever. Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?” (Jer. 20:14-18)
Now that seems a little over the top, I know. Most of us haven’t reached the point where we started calling down wrath on the doctor (or mid-wife, for all of you home-birthing enthusiasts) who delivered us. That’s a point of desparation that I hope I’ll never have to stare in the face. But, what strikes me the most about these words is that this is just the stuff that he wrote down to be read by others. Imagine the stuff that he didn’t write down! Who knows what else was going on in his heart and mind.
The prophet Jeremiah lived a life of constant disappointment, frustration and pain. He was repeatedly given messages from the Lord to preach against Judah and, in particular their leaders, which inevitably ticked them off and regularly landed him beatings, imprisonment, mocking and isolation. Not to mention, no one ever listened to him and in the end He would suffer defeat and exile alongside all of his stubborn kinsmen who refused to hear his words.
At more than one point He records his own complaints against God for the mission he has been given.
“You deceived me, LORD, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (Jer. 20:7-9)
This is what passion looks like. I can’t stop even though I would really like to. Even though it is killing me… literally. If I try to stop it feels like something is burning inside of me. Something with such explosive power that I get exhausted just from trying to hold it back.
At this point, someone might recommend to Jeremiah that he should just pop a couple TUMS and relax. Maybe pursue a different career path or find a different cause to stand up for… perhaps one that has, at least, a remote chance of success. But that isn’t possible for someone with true passion. Passion can’t sit quietly and allow nothing to be done. It simply must act.
So, what am I passionate about?
What makes me angry? Sad? Happy?
What drives me crazy when it’s not being done or being done poorly?
What is the thing that I simply MUST do?
And, again, this is just one more question in a series of questions and isn’t really meant to stand alone.