When I wrote the title of this blog, I could hear the words, “You betcha” in perfect Sarah Palin dialect. Passion is dangerous. But like little Lucy asks in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: “Is he safe?” (referring to Aslan), the response given was “No. But he is good.”
Passion is much the same way. Passion can be dangerous when the fuel that fires it is wealth or greed or selfish motives. But what about passion for things such as justice or reconciliation or artistic expression?
I still say – dangerous. If we are to take our passion and truly dive in to it, we may be hurt along the way. Our hearts may be broken by a love that is not returned. Our lives shaken when we see the atrocities in Sudan. Our bones broken when we decide to act on our convictions. (Just ask any of the children who were sprayed by the massive hoses during the civil rights movement.)
But what about the more subtle or tame passions? Can my passion for writing be dangerous Surely not. Yet, if I am to write with rigorous honesty, then I am in danger of offending someone or being disliked. If passion is firing my latest work of art, I may succumb to the temptation to neglect my family and live only to get the work finished to my satisfaction. Danger in terms of risks taken and danger in terms of shutting others out. Passion can drive us in either direction.
I write this because passion scares me. Yet I am full of it (passion, that is). I feel deeply. I think deeply. I want deeply. And I love deeply. So when I am involved with something or someone for which I am passionate, there is always a danger attached to it
So many people try to avoid it because they simply do not know what to do with it. Even as someone with a lot of passion, when I am faced with someone who is passionate about something that I may not be, I can get uncomfortable. Yesterday at a meeting one of the men was fired up about something he really wanted. The rest of us weren’t necessarily as passionate as he was about this particular issue. I could have written him off and tuned out. But when I really listened and started asking him questions, I realized why he was so passionate about this issue. Eventually I conceded to him. It took a lot of listening and a lot of openness.
If I can remember to do these two things: listen and remain open… others’ passion will not seem so frightening or dangerous. And if my passion seems too much for someone, it is not my responsibility to make them feel okay about it. My only responsibility is that I follow what God put in my heart and make sure that I am staying on a path that he has set before me, rather than a path that I have tried to blaze myself – which goes back to that choice.
Each day as I live within this passionate heart of mine, I must weigh whether or not I’m choosing to take a risk in the name of passion or if I’m choosing myself and shutting others out in the name of passion.