When I was in my youthful 20s and early 30s, the words passions and purpose used to ignite me. I could start a new business endeavor in 2.5 seconds. Creativity was endless with all that youthful energy and the future was bright. Ironically, this was also some of our toughest years financially as a family, but the dreaming and possibility of what God could do was the Hope we needed to keep going.
Now I am in my 40s and those same words- passion and purpose often trigger an eye roll.
It could be that our special needs baby and the emotions of raising teen girls have us too fatigued to give our passion, much less our purpose any thought. But more than that I think it’s the defeat in our past that affects our ability to believe in a future beyond what we can currently see.
For example, this blog.
I used to write whenever a word would enter my brain, a circumstance was happening in my life, or if I had a story to tell. I would just open my laptop and write. Over the years, I became pretty comfortable with my writing and knew God was using it so I wanted to do more. I landed a job as a ghostwriter for a design firm. It was fun and I enjoyed writing without the pressure of others knowing who I was. However, I soon learned the ins and outs of SEO. When you’re writing Google-approved blogs, you get these “green lights” telling you that your SEOs are “approved.”
You can guess what happened next.
Soon my writing became the object of approval. I found myself writing for the “green” alerts telling me that my writing was approved which eventually filtered into my personal blog. This led to defeat and loss of passion, which caused me to stop writing for a season. Seeking approval sucked the life out of my passion, ending my purpose which I felt God had called me to. Even now I am staring at my “red dots” alerting me that Google does not approve.
While walking yesterday, I was thinking about all the avenues we seek approval in. It may not be SEO’s but there are places where we naturally seek approval.
We long to be seen, appreciated, loved, and affirmed for the work and effort we put forward.
I don’t believe this to be a bad thing, but like with anything, we must seek approval in the right places. We were created to seek God. We were created to please Him. But man, well we will never fully satisfy the needs of others no matter how hard we work.
My great-grandmother gave me a quilt when I turned 16 years old. It was red and white and had little “country girls” on each square. She sewed by hand and because she was later in life, you can see the turn of each stitch against the red fabric. For the “country girls,” she used shapes… a triangle for the dress and instead of a detailed face, she put a bonnet to take the place of the head.
Knitting quilts was a passion.
I am sure that if she had fallen under the pressures of comparison she would have never completed the quilt. Machine stitched quilts were already a thing but I am not even sure my grandma knew that. Had she compared, she may have tried to stitch faces instead of a bonnet. Detailed dresses instead of a triangle. And possibly because comparison had caused her to do something she wasn’t made to do, her efforts would have been short-changed for defeat and discouragement.
Because Purpose doesn’t always evolve around Talent.
So instead, she focused on her passion. And that passion was to make me something that would live on long after she left this earth.
And so, I have a beautiful quilt, handstitched and crafted just for me. I pull it out for the girls to use on family movie nights and I find myself marveling at the authenticity of it. No one else has a quilt like me.
Which led me to think, what would our purpose in life become if we lived out our passion without comparison?
I think we would produce “quilts” that are so unique they can’t be replicated. I think we would have Christians more ignited to live the calling God has for them. I think we would have 40+ year-olds dreaming again, unafraid of failure and disappointment. And I think we would regain our mental health.
So I am forcing myself to not fall into comparison. I am forcing myself to dream again and stir up Hope. Ignoring the approval ratings and trying desperately to see that my passions will lead me to my purpose if I don’t compare, seek approval from men, and stay wrapped in Hope.
Because whether it’s SEOs, CEOs, or even the IDKs in life, our approval should only come from the One who made us.
And as we do this, we may just find that our Passion is ignited and our Purpose soon follows.