Have You Lost Your Passion?
By Stacey Weeks
Do you keep a daily mental ‘to do’ list? Do you organize your day into the allotments of time required to finish these tasks? Can you abandon dirty dishes in the sink? Can you leave a bed unmade? Can you welcome unexpected company into an untidy home?
The concept of floating through a day without my checklist, with a sink of dishes and dust bunnies gathering in the corner is appalling to me. And learning to relax has not come naturally.
My husband and I were married seven-and-a-half years before welcoming our daughter into our lives. That’s a long time to become set in your ways. Becoming a mother has challenged me to slow down and the benefits have spilled over into my ministry. Kaitlyn doesn’t care if my tasks go uncompleted; all she wants is my attention. God feels the same way. I was frustrated and burnt out trying to impress Him with a list of accomplishments He never asked me to fulfill. It was never God’s fault I failed to set healthy boundaries.
At the end of a fatiguing day if I find myself unable to wind down I indulge in late night television. Late night television differs greatly from daytime television. Programs I would never waste a moment on during daylight hours provide an entertaining escape at dusk. One evening I watched a group of acrobats climb on one another’s shoulders to create a human tower and the little one on top juggled china plates. Had one of these entertainers miscalculated, the results could have been disastrous.
It’s a similar pressure that women in ministry feel as we juggle the demanding aspects of marriage, children, parents, pets, siblings, work, and church. There is precious little time alone. (Unless you count time spent in the bathroom, and it only counts if you ignore the pleading cries of your children whose bodies are pressed despairingly against the door!)
To combat increasing demands we speed up rather then cut back. We multitask. Instead of evaluating and weighing each demand on our day, we pile more onto our plate, eventually making it impossible for our inner acrobat to juggle the fine china. I’ve adapted how I work in order to earn a check mark on my ever-lengthening list. I think of this as driving in the express lane of life. The express lane enables us to live in fast forward and stretches us so thin that we might complete our tasks, but we don’t enjoy them. We have forgotten that pleasure births passion. And passion is what God wants from us. Not more, not numbers, not programs or perfection, but passion.
The word passion brings to mind vivid images, Passion Fruit lipstick, bright colours, and tropical destinations. There are so many things in life about which we can be passionate. Passion blooms in a romantic evening with the love of your life. A rekindling of long lost friendships can stir passion in the heart. Hours poured into hobbies and favorite pastimes generate passion. A love affair with our Lord stirs a passionate response in our souls. We have all experienced passion on some level. Unfortunately, there is no ‘drive through’ to passion on the express lane. And if your anything like me, you’re too tired to stop the car and search your heart, let alone the heart of the Father.
One day, my brave husband sat me down and informed me that I had to cut back on my commitments. I argued (with passion), “I can’t, all my commitments are good.” He calmly replied, “Too bad. It’s time to do it.” I was pretty angry at first. Imagine, being forced by your spouse to not just reshuffle your schedule, but to throw it out entirely!
In hindsight I now see how God used my wise husband to teach me the value of solitude. I cut back my schedule and to my great surprise I began to enjoy life again. I found time to rekindle a struggling flame with my Lord. I learned a new hobby. I spent time alone. I spent time with a good man who I have been blessed to call my husband. There is truth in the old saying that the direction you naturally gravitate towards (when no one is pulling your strings) will lead you to your heart, and where you find your heart, you’ll find your passion.
As children we had a family pet. Mandy was a Toy Poodle who loved my older sister Jenny with a fierce protective love. Jenny would tease my brothers and myself, telling us that Mandy loved her best. To prove her point, she would place Mandy on the floor in the center of the living room and we would all gather in a circle around her. The moment Mandy was free to move about she headed directly into Jenny’s arms. We would call out, offer cookies and whistle, yet without fail she trotted directly toward Jenny. Mandy knew about whom she was passionate. Mandy’s passion was made evident in her choices, just as your passion will be made evident in yours.
It is important to balance passion and life. Some daily tasks cannot be denied and you will never be passionate about them, yet they need to be a priority. And every day we manage to finish what we have prioritized. Maybe you prioritize your job. Maybe your priorities depict a mother enslaved to her offspring’s schedule. Maybe you prioritize the appearance of “having it all together.” Whatever it may be, be certain you prioritize something. The trick is to prioritize what you are passionate about. And you can’t discover what you are passionate about until you slow down. Once I practised “slowing down,” I was able to hear the quiet voice of God that my usual rush crowded out.
Take what I call the one-minute challenge. Find a time, every day that is consistent. The actual time doesn’t have to be the same, but the action does. For example, it might be when you first get up or right before you brush your teeth. It might mean adding a minute to your morning shower or while on your coffee break at work. Take that time and spend one minute in a proactive moment with the Lord. One minute. You can pray if you choose. You can simply dwell on God’s goodness. You can bask in His love and the security of His forgiveness. However, you cannot multitask. Your purpose is to slow your thoughts, slow your heart, and slow your mind. You’ll find that as you slow down, your heart will calm. You will experience the presence of God in a way that maybe you haven’t in a very long time. And who knows, after a few weeks the one-minute challenge might grow into 5, 10, or 15 minute clusters of communion with God, maybe even hours!
There are many barriers to slowing down once we have entered the express lane. The one I struggle with the most is answering the question whom do I please? My daughter demands that I satisfy her. “Self-help” teaches I should indulge myself. The congregation desires that I accommodate them. My spirit tells me I should take pleasure in God. However, the soft voice of my spirit is often drowned out by the piercing wail of my toddler.
Is it even important. YES! I want my daughter to grow up passionate about her faith, passionate about the issues that speak to her heart. But as Lloyd John Ogilvie said, “It can’t happen through you if it hasn’t happened to you.” My first responsibility is to cherish the time I set aside for my Savior to nurture my own passionate relationship with Him, and only then will I be able to pass the passion on.
Adopting our daughter Kaitlyn has brought a new perspective to my life. Along with the joys she has brought us, I feel the burden that comes with parenthood. Kaitlyn’s outlook on life, on God, and her own sense of value as a person is shaped daily by my choices. I pray I will never be too busy to crawl on the floor and play with her, to read and re-read her favorite book over and over again simply because it makes her smile. I pray I’ll never be too busy to pray with her, to pray for her, and to allow her to see Kevin and I praying together.
These are not items that I can neatly checkmark at the days end. I can’t cross them off the list like a completed home project or a shopping trip. I used to have great expectations on what I could accomplish in a day, and now I have learned a successful day begins with great moments of passion with my Lord.