Finding Life, Part 1: Your Passions

Welcome back! This is the start of a series of posts about discovering your path to a life of passion, mission, purpose, and freedom. If you missed last weeks introduction, you can find it here.

They didn’t have the guts to risk the life they were living for the one they were capable of.

— Darren Hardy

I hated my job.

Hate is a strong word, but it’s still the feeling that wells up inside of me when I think about that job. I hated it.

I was in web development (which is something I’ve wanted to do since, well, forever), making decent money, and working a decently cushy job as a contractor for a government organization. So what was the problem? The problem was that I literally spent more than 6 months waiting on the software that I needed to do my job. It took 3 months just to get the credentials that I needed. Everything was stuck in red tape and bureaucracy. I couldn’t do anything, and I was just sitting around wasting time day after day, week after week. I had no motivation and no drive to do anything. I was bored. It was horrible and I didn’t know how to handle it.

It got to the point where I had taken so many “sick” days that I had gone through my allotment of them and was just taking days off without pay because I just couldn’t sit there another minute. This, of course, was hurting my family, because my paychecks were dwindling every time I didn’t show up to work. I had lost any passion I had for web development by this time and because I had so much extra unscheduled time on my hands, I was making even more dumb decisions and mistakes in other areas of my life. My marriage was a struggle. I’m fully convinced now that I was most likely in a full on bout with depression even if no one ever said I was. I was stuck, and I knew it. This would be how I would spend the rest of my working career and most likely my life. I would do nothing of consequence, hate every minute of it, and probably lose my family in the process. But all my brain could come up with was that this was how it had to be. I had to “provide” for my family. That’s my job as the man, right? I thought this was my purpose in life.

What I didn’t know, and have since learned, is that I have an actual purpose for my life — way beyond just being the provider. I didn’t know how to create missions that served that purpose. I didn’t know that the things I was passionate about, no matter how dead and buried I thought they were, were good things meant to push me along and excite me about what life could and should be. I didn’t know (and couldn’t see) the freedom what waited for me on the other side of that knowledge.

That knowledge is available to you as well. It starts right here.

The first step to finding the life you are meant to live is to wake up to this: you have passions and desires in your heart, they exist for a reason, and they are good.

You Have Passions

First things first, you have to realize that you have passions and desires in your heart. You really do.

You might have buried them. You might have tried to shove them in a closet somewhere. You might have even tried to kill them. For whatever reason, we’ve taken the things that would lead us to life and left them behind.

We’ve lived so long in the land of obligation and duty, depression and fear, that we no longer feel like we’re passionate about anything. It’s also here that we start to believe that even if we did have something we were passionate about that it would just cause trouble and heartache and pain because that’s what we’ve learned our passions do.

Here’s the thing about passions though: they don’t stay buried. You can’t kill your desires. When you’re up in the middle of the night and you’re dreaming about the way things could be, that’s your passions creeping back out of the grave you thought you put them in. In the quiet of the morning, in that time between sleeping and waking, that voice talking to you and calling you into something more … that’s the voice of the desires in your heart that you thought you had locked in that basement. Like the things that people tried to bury in Pet Cemetery, your passions and desires will keep coming back. But in a good way. Not in an all creepy and trying to kill you kind of way.

Your passions are clues and they can lead you to life. Start to listen for them. They’re whispering to you even now.

Your Passions Exist For A Reason

Once upon a time I wanted to be a bodybuilder.

Okay, if you know me, you can stop laughing now.

It’s true, I did. Actually, I can think of two distinct times when I thought this might be the true desire and direction of my life.

Once, when I was a kid, I found that my dad had these old weights and books on weight lifting. I was a scrawny kid back then and I liked the idea of not getting sand kicked in my face and getting the girl, right? I had no idea what I was doing and I didn’t really have any help, I was just doing what the books told me to do. The whole thing probably lasted a couple of weeks.

Then as an adult, I got interested in bodybuilding again. I found some videos from a guy on bodybuilding dot com and again had that familiar rushing feeling that this was something that I wanted. So I watched his videos and did some workouts. I had more money now so I bought protein powder and other supplements that I thought I needed. I watched the Mr. Olympia competition. There was even a time when I actually finished a whole 12 week program and lost a pretty good amount of weight. But again, over time, life happened and the dream was forgotten.

Neither one of those times panned out and at my age now, becoming a bodybuilder is probably not going to happen. To this day though, I am still a fan of the sport. I follow some bodybuilders on social media. I still try to watch the Olympia competition every year to see what happens. I truly enjoy it.

So was my desire misplaced? No, I don’t think so.

There are so many reasons that I could have this desire. Maybe by giving me this desire God is just trying to get my attention to tell me that I need to live a healthier lifestyle. Maybe somewhere down the road there will be a mission in my life that involves health and fitness. In the same way that I don’t have to be a professional football player to love and enjoy football, I don’t have to be a bodybuilder to love the sport. Perhaps, much like football, it’s just something that God has given me for the sole purpose of enjoying it.

There is a purpose and plan for each and every passion you have. God wouldn’t have put it there if it wasn’t meant for you to have and to use. We may not understand the purpose of each and every passion we have yet, but God does and He will reveal that plan to us in time as we’re ready for it.

Your Passions Are Good

Lastly, I want you to know that your passions are good. Now, there’s a good chance we’ve twisted their intent. Satan (and our own hearts) have taken our desires, mutated them, and used them for not good things, but that’s not the original intention. God doesn’t create anything that isn’t good. Your passions were put inside of you for good, not evil.

Sometimes we look at the things that we’re passionate about and we see all the ways that we’ve twisted them and used them for our own gain or to hurt others. We might start to think that we’re better off if we don’t use those desires at all.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Having passions is not the problem. Misdirected passions are the problem. When you can line up the things that make you come alive with a mission that is feeding your purpose, your passions become helpful, not hurtful.

Here’s the question I want you to consider: if God is a good God who gives good gifts to His children, why would He give us a desire for something that was inherently evil? Why would He put inside of us things that make us come alive if we were only meant to hide those things from the world?

The answer? He wouldn’t. He would never give us a desire for evil things. He has never meant for you to hide the things that you love. We end up hiding them because we’re afraid of what will happen if we let them out. But the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30) tells us that those of us who hide what we’ve been given will be called wicked. It also tells us that those of us who take what we’ve been given and use it will see a large return and will be given more.

Your passions are not evil. The things you love are not bad. We’ve misnamed them. We’ve misinterpreted how they should be used. We’ve given them the wrong mission. But they are not wrong.

If you’re going to ever live the life you are meant to live, a life of meaning and purpose, it all starts with your passions.

A small warning: passions can wax and wane. They come and go. I believe they are meant to change over time. They aren’t meant to stay the same. Because of this, building a life based purely on your passions doesn’t work. They are important building blocks of a full life, but they aren’t life themselves. Without a mission to put your passions to work in, your life will feel more like a roller coaster than the robust, growing, full life that you are meant to have. Your life is meant to be a smorgasbord, a feast. Building a life based solely on passions is like feeding yourself nothing but candy. You get a boost for a minute, but then there comes a crash.

Next week we’ll talk about the second main part of an abundant, full life. We’ll discuss your missions, how they are informed by your passions, and how they tie in to your purpose. I look forward to seeing you then!