What a painfully sweet journey it is to discover your purpose and passion and then go for it. The setbacks, the failures, and then the hard-won achievements that follow make each day compelling and rewarding. Even the smallest of accomplishments, ignited by a fire and drive to cross the finish line victoriously, are monumentally satisfying throughout the journey of a dream pursued. I experienced this feeling anew as I walked recently up a mountainous hill (hilly to the avid walker, mountainous to me) and actually enjoyed the downpour of sweat. I walked further than I had before, and for the first time in a long time, the burn in my muscles served as a propellant, not a deterrent. It wasn't burdensome, but instead felt empowering, rejuvenating, and inspiring. I climbed the hill higher and higher just so I could feel the thrill of the wind on my back as I walked energetically back down. As Whitney Houston's "I'm Every Woman" played on my iPod, I was invigorated and strengthened by the blossoming reality of the unfolding of my dreams, and for that moment, that instant - I was every woman.
The highs of passion pursued are incredibly rewarding and the lows that result from the inevitable setbacks are only temporary if you don't allow yourself to lose focus of the big picture, and the big picture is this - nothing great is accomplished without opposition, without setback, and yes, even without failure. I experienced the adventure of explaining this concept to my seven year old recently when he became upset over being unable to spell a word correctly the first time. As he struggled against the tears that threatened to fall, I gently told him that learning is best experienced when it comes from an understanding of what not to do, and in his case particularly that night, how not to spell. As I reassured him that he's amazingly bright not only because of the words he spells easily, but also because of the ones he learns only after having to practice repeatedly, I could feel his frustration subsiding, but it was no short pep talk. He went from anger and frustration, tears and despair, to finally appreciating the process of it all as he spelled once again with a smile. Like the seven year old learning how to spell, we must recognize the value of the journey on our way to the destination, for it is within the journey that our purpose, passions, and dreams are shaped.
I recently had to interview someone for a job opening and after asking him all the reasons why he was the best candidate for the position, I moved on to his interests, dreams, and passions. Sadly, his dreams and passions column was almost blank. Because of "the way I was raised," he stated that he didn't really know of anything about which he felt true, raw passion, and he certainly didn't have much thought on "all of that dream stuff." He was simply carrying on in what and how he had been trained in the years leading up to that moment. He was a bright and talented man, and I'm sure he will be successful in his endeavors, but I wonder - will he be as happy as God intends for him to be? What dreams are on the inside of you? What gifts has God given you? You were not randomly placed on this earth without purpose or plan. God took care in creating you and even counted the very hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30), so if He took the time to count your every hair, position your every freckle, shade your eyes, and cross your heart, don't you think He created you for a specific purpose? You're here to help someone (1 Peter 4:10), so if you don't know how or who, start digging deep to first find you. List your interests, assess your areas of excitement, and ask God to reveal what gifts He has placed on the inside of you (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:1-13), and go from there. What you're meant to do, what you've been commissioned by God to accomplish, and how you are gifted to serve may be right in front of you. You just have to have eyes that will see.
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