“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men;” Colossians 3:23
Initially, I was going to write about my journey to being healthier, but some tragic events happened in the last weeks that have caused me to be more reflective. Three different men that I know have passed away. One was a high school classmate that I haven’t seen in years, the second was an elder in our church, and the third was an old friend who was instrumental in God’s plan for our move to Pennsylvania. All three men were very different from each other: a dairy farmer, a logger, an entrepreneur. Yet all three had one common trait: their individual passions drove them to make a difference in their families and in their communities.
What do I mean when I say the word passion? Passion is defined as “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something”. We are all created differently and have had different life experiences which lead to different passions. Some of us are passionate about social injustice, some about our faith, and for some it can be about a simple hobby like gardening. We all have that something that, when we talk about it, our eyes light up, our heart rate increases, and we get excited. Yet some people, like these three men, go above and beyond: cultivating, sharing and leaving behind them a legacy of their passion.
When I first heard about my classmate being moved into hospice, I read the story of his life beyond high school. He cared passionately about the dairy industry and did his best to promote and educate his community about farming. He wrote a blog about his life as a farmer, and most of his posts can speak to you about your own life, farmer, or not. He was innovative, and was recognized by his community, and his industry, with various accolades. He not only had passion, but he gave voice to his passion!
It’s not enough to be passionate about something. Our passions need to be shared with others. Sharing doesn’t mean beating someone down with your opinions and pushing them to believe in your passions. Instead, it means to gently educate them about your passion, helping them to see how it can relate to their lives. Sharing can cause other people to be inspired and set them on a journey to discover their own passions.
When my family attended the visitation of the second man who passed away, I was amazed at how many people came to pay their respects. The elder lived in a small rural community in the mountains, and we waited in line for an hour and a half. It was as if the whole community came. My husband met one gentleman in line who had been a salesman for a logging equipment and had not seen the deceased man for over 50 years. Yet, this elder made such an impression on him that he felt the need to be at the visitation! That tells me that this elder had integrity in his passion.
Integrity is having a firm adherence to a moral foundation. I’m sure the logging industry challenged a person’s integrity with bidding on land, hiring workers, and property disputes. Yet, this elder based his life on the Bible and it was evident in his decision-making. People don’t turn out to pay their respects for someone who is a cheat or a swindler. They came to pay their respects to someone who had contributed to their community in an ethical manner. Our passions need to be based on a firm foundation of moral principles.
The third man, the entrepreneur, was probably one of the most driven men I have ever known. He was driven to succeed in all areas of his life: his relationship with God, being a family man, and a businessman. I have known few men who worship as intensely as he did, always making a joyful noise in praise to God, whether he was on key, or not. He always found an opportunity to talk about how much he loved his wife and children, praising them in their accomplishments and finding ways to make their dreams come true. He started off with little education, but was always finding new ways to improve himself and his situation. He started two companies that, from all accounts, were very successful.
In order for our passions to be more than just casual interests, we must be driven by them. They should shape our lives and fuel our vision. If we have no drive, we end up leading ordinary lives: unfulfilled, lacking passion and leaving no lasting legacy.
Now, I am going to be completely transparent with you. The last few years I have been lacking passion. My previous passion had been to be a good mom who home-educated my children. I was driven to provide my kids with a solid education. I held myself to high standards and shared my passion with other moms as they started their own journeys in homeschooling. Yet, after my daughter’s high school graduation, I found myself wondering, who am I and what do I want to do. I felt stuck and unfulfilled.
It is easy to get caught up in the mundane tasks of living while life passes you by. Yet, I knew there was something more. I started reading books about life transitions and goals, and paid attention to what spoke to my soul and sparked my interest. I asked myself hard questions and faced some fears. And I prayed.
I am still figuring out my path. But I am moving forward. One of my current passions is to be transparent about this journey in order to benefit other women who might be facing some of the same challenges that I am facing. I don’t have all the answers, but God has been dropping nuggets of wisdom along my path.
Three men have been memorialized, honored and buried in the last few weeks. Three families are still mourning their loss. Three groups of friends are still missing their friend. Yet three men lived out their passions and have made our world a better place. I pray, someday, the same will be said of me.