One of the things I feel blessed to experience, as a writer/blogger is connection with others who are creative and courageous in these pursuits. I continually learn from them in many and varied ways. They are scattered across various parts of the country and world with a wide array of lived experiences and backgrounds. They encourage me, challenge me, and confront me with truth, new ideas, and different ways of looking at things. What a gift!
Some of these persons I have gotten to know a bit more personally through comments and emails while others are voices I respect, but whose lives I only know through their writing. As I sit at my desk in my den, I smile as I think of Lisa and Stephanie in Alabama, Ceil in Chicago, Susan and Debbie in North Carolina, Michele in Maine, Linda in Massachusetts, Lynn in Alberta, Canada, Ifeoma in Nigeria and others as well. Each stirs my thinking and often nudges me toward writing something.
Recently I posted a piece about perseverance and my friend, Lisa from Alabama responded in comments and made mention of a book that connected with the theme of my post. Her skill at being an excellent source for a good book resulted in me ordering it that very day. As I have been reading it, it has stimulated a great deal of thought and encouragement and is the foundation of the musings I am sharing in this reflection.
The book is Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth and although this post is not truly a book review, I will be referring to some of her points that stimulated my thoughts. Her topics are ones that have always held my interest as a teacher and counselor, mother and grandmother, but most of all just as a person. The topics addressed intersect and impact how I view the Christian life as well.
If you were talking with my husband, he might very well point out to you that I am passionate about nearly everything, chuckling as he said it. I could be tempted to disagree with that statement, but if I am honest with you and myself I think there is some truth in it. I would have simply said that I care deeply about things. That’s true, but the book’s author gives a better definition:
“Passion is not just something you care about. What I mean is that you care about that same ultimate goal in an abiding, loyal steady way. You are not capricious. Each day you wake up thinking of the questions you fell asleep thinking about. You are, in a sense, pointing in the same direction, ever eager to take even the smallest step toward some other destination.”
Clearly, life does not allow any of us to pursue a long list of passions, but oftentimes our list reveals an overarching goal expressed in different ways if we take time for closer scrutiny. Additionally, we grow and develop it over time, gradually potentially gaining more expertise whether it is in laying bricks, teaching, practicing medicine, working in sales or anything else. But it isn’t just about more time; it is crucial that deliberate practice is involved. (The author can help you understand a lot more about that. She also can help you look at how to grow more grit!) Not everyone is passionate or perseverant and certainly not to the same degree.
The important question I was provoked to consider was what level of passion was connected to my spiritual walk. Did I simply feel passionate about it or did I pursue development of it to participate with the Lord in my sanctification? In other words, my words, actions, attitudes, and pursuits would need to be congruent.
What would growth in spiritual passion look like?
It would mean that I would not just attend church and enjoy what I hear, but that I would attend to the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart through worship, the message, and even interactions with others in the service. It would mean that I would long to spend time with the Lord getting to develop a more intimate relationship with Him. I would not only read in His Word, but I would desire to learn how to read it better, learn more, and understand more by purposeful study habits. I would not only spend time talking with the Lord in prayer, but I would also spend time waiting and listening for His nudges and whispers to my heart. My heart would be other-focused in healthy ways more than self-focused. It would mean I would face my weaknesses in any of these areas as well as my sin without fear of rejection or shame and seek the Lord to diligently change them with His help instead of choosing self-rejection, denial, or ignoring their reality.
I felt good as I reflected that I had accepted an invitation from my daughter to attend a Simeon’s Trust workshop that taught me excellent tools to learn to unpack scripture without always leaning on a commentary this past fall. That was a step in the right direction and I look forward to another one to gain more practice and learn how to utilize the tools with different genres of the Bible.
The longer I considered where my passion level was regarding the Lord, the more I recognized the growth I have experienced. It was also clear to me that there definitely needs to be a strong intersection between my passion and perseverance for positive growth to occur. I saw more ways to expand that quality in my spiritual life as well, even though this was not a spiritual book.
Most importantly, I also realized that I needed to be more deliberate in my practicing of these very things and more, not out of some legalistic sense of duty but because I want to get to know more and more about the One I will spend eternity with.
Be honest and not condemning. How are you doing with your passionate persevering pursuit of Christ?