Passion Is a Puppy
Updated: Aug 27, 2020
I'm a passionate person. There's no question about that—it's a part of who I am, and to be honest, sometimes I resent it. Passion is a beautiful thing, especially when wrapped up in meaningful and edifying sources, but it can also become a pitfall—a distraction from what is meaningful, edifying, and most important in life.
The trouble with passion is that, if given too much leash, it can very quickly flee into the realm of idol-worship. An unchecked passion for a sport, movie, hobby, profession or life pursuit, person, even something as seemingly innocent as a good book doesn't take long to transform those things—which are not problematic in themselves—into something that pushes God into the background. The worst part is that, sometimes, our passion can drag us along for quite a while before we catch up with it.
There was a time in my life when I realized the story I was writing had become an idol. It seemed so unlikely—an innocent story grounded in spiritual principles, sometimes downright allegorical? How could that possibly be anything but good? But it consumed my thoughts. Every spare moment was dedicated to my characters, my plot, my world. Every quiet minute was pre-ordained for story purposes. Spending time with God in prayer, worship, or studying the Word was an interlude from my default setting—story mode—instead of being my default setting.
It was a difficult reality to come to terms with, and difficult to resist. But I'm thankful to be able to say that the Holy Spirit has worked in me since then, reducing my passion to a proportionate size, and redistributing it for a better balance with my spiritual life. My passion is still very much active within me as a bundle of energy, always on the lookout for something new to chase, but God is making me more aware of the warning signs when I'm giving it too much leash.
Overcoming one spiritual hurdle is never a one-victory-wins-all, and I've learned that in this area of life. It's a constant battle for me, a constant jerk-and-pull as I let my passion get too close to something, recognize the danger signs, pull away hard, move on, repeat. Sometimes I hang around too long, which it makes it harder to pull away when I realize that something innocent but meaningless—like a movie, song, or even a pastime I don't think I can live without—consumes too much of my mind.
And yet, I'm never doing it alone. God is always there to redirect me, to fall back on, to remind me of where my passion should find its truest and most meaningful outlet.
If God gifted you with passion, rejoice. He has given you a gift—the capacity to love more deeply, to live more fully, to enjoy more thoroughly and feel more resonantly. That gift will allow you to experience Him in vivid ways . . . it just needs to be trained.
Don't blame Him for the times when your passion happily drops a new idol at your feet. I've done that. I've looked up to heaven from my knees and asked God why He made me with so much feeling if it's too much for me to control, if I can't manage it the way He asks. I've realized since then how unfair that is. How wrong. God wants us to grow into mature, disciplined children of the Kingdom, and that means we need to put in some legwork, to dedicate our own time and energy to bringing all of ourselves into submission to His will.
Passion is a difficult one. I understand the struggle, and I'm by no means past it. But if your passion is in the puppy years, like mine, the best course of action is to bring it to the ultimate Trainer. To lay it at God's feet and say, "Lord, take my passion and bring it into your Kingdom. Teach it to chase what is good and edifying, to avoid what is harmful, and to be obedient to you in all things."
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**Cover Photo: shout-out to our once-upon-a-time pup, Ben!**