No, I’m not going to bust out in a radical version of Don’t Stop Believin’. Although if I still had make up on, it wasn’t 11:10 at night and my FlipCam was close by, I might have considered it.
Nope…I’m talking about a different kind of journey. On Friday I shared with you the struggles and insecurities I’m feeling as my career climbs ever so slightly and the inner battles that wage within. I received great, wonderful, supportive comments from many of you. I also received a couple of phone calls and a few emails filled with encouragement.
All of this encouragement began squeezing at my heart, which then overflowed in prayer. How am I to feel about all of this? How do I respond to the obvious passions and desires of my heart when opportunity presents itself? And how do I balance those with the obligations and love I have for my family?
A conversation I had on Sunday solidified in my heart my need for serious reflection on this matter. I found myself encouraging a new friend to pursue her own passions. I heard myself tell her that God doesn’t want us to live in fear. He has given this girl obvious talents and passions and she yearns to pursue them, but there is that nagging little thing called practicality. It is telling her that pursuing her passions, even to the glory of God, means giving up a tiny bit of security and safety. Not that I think I know what’s best for her life, by any means, but I do know that when I see someone who longs and desires to pursue a passion I’m going to do everything in my power to encourage her to do it without shame and or fear.
I need to have a talk with the girl who stares back at me from the mirror…
Practicality is a good thing. Practicality keeps food on the table and money in the bank. Practicality makes sure that should your two year old topple off his stool in the middle of dinner, you can walk into an ER and get his broken arm plastered up without fear of losing your home to medical bills.
As we drove home from church Sunday afternoon, I relayed the discussion to Lee and I could almost hear his brain explode inside his skull. Because he’s been telling me this for years.
I am trapped in practicality. But the problem with my practicality is that it isn’t the good kind. It’s not the kind that is really truly doing my family any good. It’s really just my excuse to not try too hard. If I don’t try too hard to succeed, I sure as heck don’t have to worry about failing.
Except it’s not.
The thing that baffles me about all this is the fact that I didn’t use to be this way. This fear based practicality was birthed the second I became a mother. Suddenly I found myself afraid to dream anymore for fear I might shove them all toward costly psychiatrist bills when they’re older. Because we all know that it’s always the mom’s fault, right?
Here’s the thing: this is not the place we were designed to live. This is not where I was designed to live. None of us were meant to hide behind practicality – to use it as a shield to hide us from the world. Sometimes practicality is entirely impractical. It’s not always wise to be practical. God didn’t design us to live in fear, insecurity and guilt. He designed us to walk freely, unashamed and with passion. And passion is rarely ever practical. Think of the greatest leaders and innovators in history – very few of them operated in passive practicality. Most of them threw caution to the wind and surrendered to their dreams.
Think of Christopher Columbus. Sailing around the world was not practical, especially when the prevailing thought was that the world was flat. But he tossed practicality over the side of his ship and sailed forth, driven by passion and a good deal of gumption. Or what about a group of five men who, in 1956, risked everything to minister to a group of people known as the Woadani deep in the Amazon only to end up being brutally murdered by the people they so desperately wanted to help? Was it practical to transplant their families to that region? It could even be argued that that was unwise…unless you know the end of the story when Jim Elliot’s son returned and forever altered the future of the people who slayed his father.
Of course, wisdom must play a role. But wisdom and practicality are different aren’t they? Practicality is a dross around the neck of passion. Wisdom is the wings which give passion flight. Wisdom allows us to pursue passions with the knowledge that even if we don’t succeed (as the world sees success), we certainly can’t call ourselves failures. Because how can we fail? Hasn’t the battle already been won on our behalf?
Sometimes, of course, wisdom and practicality must go hand in hand. It would be both unwise and impractical for me to pursue a career as a professional surfer. There are a number of reasons for this, one of the more prevalent ones being I live in Missouri…not a lot of ocean to be found. I also have to be sure that the things I pursue are supported by Lee. It is not wise or practical to chase a dream without my husband’s full support. I will never succeed that way.
If, however, I do have the full support of my husband and I step out in faith, wisely seeking direction along the way, then haven’t I already experienced success, even if I don’t accomplish that which I set out to accomplish? What about the journey I took? What about the things I learned on the path? If the journey leads to deeper faith, new experiences and greater wisdom, then tell me where exactly the failure lies?
The truth that has taken root inside my heart these last few days is so simple, yet also a bit complex: If I am willing to embrace my dreams, without guilt or fear, perhaps that alone is the success I am to find. And what a journey that would be…
Don’t stop. Believin’. Hold on to that feeeeeeelin’.
Huh…look at that – the song fits after all.