Let’s be real—it’s not uncommon for us to find something and get attached to it. We always seem to have a need—to have waited for days, weeks, months, or even years—for something to grab our attention and say, “Hey! This is what you need to live for!” What’s more, that wanting—that trait—has been passed on down the generational lines, if we think about it. From our parents lamenting work and yearning vocally for the retired life, to our peers saying the same phrase over and over, “Find/do what you love.” We always find that we need to latch on to a greater thing; we need to find our greater purpose, and never let go.
We need to find our passion.
And often times, at some point or another, we do end up finding it. As we go along running with it with reckless abandon, time flies by and we start to slow down. We start to stumble, or falter a bit. And we begin to ask ourselves a big question:
“Is this really what I want?”
Passion can be a tricky creature. It’s just as fickle and inconsistent as the rest of our crazy emotions. One day you will tell yourself that you’re going to dedicate all your energy into this one thing every day, and the next you’re lying in your bed staring up at the ceiling, having done nothing at all. There’s a colloquial saying that goes right along with that line of fickleness, too: “Passion is fleeting”. What that’s trying to tell you is just reaffirming the obvious: passion comes and it goes.
It’s normal to ride an ebb and flow of emotions when we talk about what we’re passionate about.
The problem then becomes what we are to make of it.
Passion vs Desire
I once had an acquaintance tell me, in a random moment of attempting to be wise while we talked about me following my passions in dance and writing, the following:
Acquaintance: So why do you do what you do?
Me: I feel that I’m called to do what I’m doing. It’s just fortunate that not only am I following what I think God’s called me to pursue, but I’m also following things that I’m really passionate about.
Acquaintance: No offense, but you shouldn’t follow your passions. You should follow your desires.
Excuse me, what?
Now, this person is a good person. A well-meaning, law-abiding person, who just wanted to look out for me. But let me get something straight with everyone: following your passions, or something you are passionate about, is in no way any worse, or less wise, than following “your desires”. In fact, we can even argue that the only difference is differing opinions of semantics. Let’s break the two down.
4a: emotion <his ruling passion is greed> (2) plural : the emotions as distinguished from reason; 4b: intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction; 5a: ardent affection: love; 5b: a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.
1: to long or hope for: exhibit or feel desire for <desire success> a : to express a wish for : request <they desire an immediate answer>b archaic : to express a wish to : ask
Take notice of the subtle differences between the two. Passion is expressly about the powerful emotion behind you. It speaks to the intensity and conviction that urges you toward something; the definition goes so far as to say “overmastering”. If we need to make an imaginary metaphor to visualize passion, it’s not hard. If passion were a fire, it was not only lit. It was fed ten tanks of lighter fluid and gasoline, and managed to find its way to the Amazon jungle!
Desire on the other hand, is more restrained. Desire is simply longing and hoping for something. Desire is requesting for the thing you want. “Oh, how I wish I could be better at such-and-such,” or “Hey, could you give me success?” That’s desire. If you simply desire something, you just want it, wish for it, and hope it comes true; but that doesn’t guarantee anything. Going back to that metaphor, desire is like starting a cute campfire and saying, “I hope this stays warm all night.”
Going full circle and back to my acquaintance; when someone says, “Don’t follow your passions, follow your desires,” they are honestly confusing their knowledge of the words. They want to say, “Don’t follow simple urges, follow what you really want,” but in reality, they’re encouraging you to scale back your dreams. On accident, they’re telling you to go so far as to ask, but not fight hard for what you want.
The biggest difference between following passion and following desire is that passion is powerful, and it urges you to take action for whatever it is that you are convicted about. It instills full belief in yourself.
It kicks your drive into overdrive, and is the force behind the movement.
Keeping the wildfire alive
So if passion is like that wildfire in the Amazon jungle, how in the heck are we supposed to be keep it going? And more over, how are we supposed to control it enough that it doesn’t burn us out? Those are the real problems of passion-driven pursuits; they have so much potential to do great things, but expend so much energy to get there. Add on top of that God’s timing—or how long it will take us to fully realize what we are so passionately pursuing—and it spells burning out pretty easily.
I would first suggest that you rest every once and a while. No, seriously, don’t be afraid to take a step back and slow things down a bit for yourself. All of us simply cannot run a 10 mile race sprinting full speed for the entire duration—we get tired; we need to slow down; we need to prevent our bodies from suffering damage. And just as well, we should not expect ourselves to non-stop run our own races in what God has called us to passionately pursue.
“It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?” –Psalm 127:2 (MSG)
Taking a rest gives us a chance to reflect; not only on the progress we’ve made, but how much we love doing what we are doing.
Speaking of which, to keep the wildfire—your passion—burning, remember why you started in the first place! Once you really grasp why you are so adamant about what it is you are passionate about—why it convicts you to never quit and to get out of bed every day to do it—putting it down and letting the fire go out is that much harder! Once there is a definitive love and reason for your passion, that fire can be stoked for the rest of your life. Believe me, I know; when I think of why I write here and why I dance so much, I remember that God has given me a ton of blessings from it, and that it’s what I’m meant to do. From that, I don’t really feel a need to stop—I’m absolutely convinced in my actions!
Finding your passion is hard, but once you find it, keeping it ablaze is even more difficult.
Believe that you can follow your passions until you die. You are given things that can mean that much! And when you put that passion behind purposeful actions, God puts everything and anything on the table.
Written by: Michael “Bboy Roach 1” Roach