(This will be one of those “for me” posts that may untangle someone else’s thoughts as well, but is mostly for my own benefit.)
About a month ago I read a reference to a book called The Renaissance Soul. I popped over to my library’s reserves page (have I mentioned yet I *love* that they’re on-line?) and snagged the next available copy.
It is a mouthful, and takes some chewing (and sifting– as it’s such a broad topic and she tries to cover everything), but it has been helpful in several ways.
First of all, the acknowledgment (that I always fought for) that I’m not weird, just different, and don’t have to have ADD just because I have more than one or two things I love to do.
Second, with that understanding as the foundation, the author (a renaissance soul herself) suggests tools techniques for
- Narrowing your foci to a manageable number (usually four), with the emphasis on not being locked in forever providing the psychological freedom to be truly present for these passions, this season.
- strategies for staying focused in this season (when you’ve been in the frustrating habit of popping from project to project– almost as though you couldn’t help it) and
- time-management for people with more than one passion.
When I started reading this book I followed the directions and made a list of everything I could think of that I loved and/or wanted to spend time and thought on.
Then, following the advice of the book, I went back through the list and whittled it down to my top four passions. Lobenstine emphasizes that your daily work (unless you feel it meeting one of your four focus points) should not take one of the four.
This troubled me as a homemaker and a mother, because, well, don’t we want to be passionate about our children and how they are raised?
The next day I was still pondering this when I met a friend and was telling her about my four focus points. I think I was seeking affirmation that I wasn’t being unbiblical in making these distinctions– putting writing on my list, for example, but not preschool planning.
“Being a mom is my job– my good work– but it isn’t my passion,” I said, searching for the right word, while the new vocabulary (“passion”) still sounded new and unnatural. My friend is married to a renaissance soul herself, and seemed to understand what I was saying.
“It’s not your passion,” she confirmed. “It is your joy.”
The relief I felt at having a new word! It filled in the missing piece for me.
~ ~ ~
In her excellent article, Getting Unstuck: Stepping Toward Your Dreams, Jenny Schroedel offers a quote for seeking one’s vocation (in this context I find a parallel in the word passion):
The intersection of your own deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger.
Some Christians (seem to) click their tongues at the idea that one may need or seek fulfillment (“deep gladness”) beyond God.
That studying the Word is not enough for me (maybe I just haven’t done it enough?) , that I also *must* write, looks on some level like a character defect. But in my own defense I’d like to point out that nothing is beyond God.
I am convinced that as long as I’m in obedience, everything I do is an act of worship, and as such it brings Him glory.
Being obedient in my “job” of mothering does not mean it can be the only thing I enjoy. At times I may need to step back and make sure I do not lose my joy because of distractions like passion, but simultaneously I know that God made me to be passionate, because without that drive I’d never have the energy to move beyond my first job to pursue an additional one.
~ ~ ~
The interesting conclusion in all this is that I just dropped one of my four (a relief as I had been reluctant to put it there in the first place). And as I’ve been praying about how these all shake out in the new hierarchy I’ve been encouraged to see elements of my “job” and joy working their way into my four focal points.
Jenny’s article offers five steps towards solidifying “dreams.” Because I have followed something like this pattern for a (relatively) concrete passion– writing– I feel can now take what I’ve learned on that journey and apply it to mothering.
I know better what it looks like, now, see?