What are you passionate about?
Have you ever had a conversation, been asked a question, and later, after the conversation was over, thought, “I should have said…I should have asked…” This happens to me. All. The. Time.
It happened again yesterday. I had a wonderful time meeting with some of the team at BVK, a marketing firm where I’m going to doing a few projects. So I was focused on showing them my portfolio, describing my work. We’d been talking about my various collaborative projects, in which I help other people communicate their passion. So Sara, who was interviewing me, said, what’s your passion?
Since we were talking about work, and I had my focus there, I talked about the books I’ve written on my own (rather than my collaborative projects), which have mostly been about pace of life, spiritual formation, Sabbath, listening. I see people (especially women) hurrying and stressing and being so hard on themselves, and one thing that I want to tell them is: “Slow down, breathe. It’s going to be okay.” I’m passionate about working hard, but also resting, I told Sara. About taking a day a week to unplug, and encouraging others to do that. My own pace of life helps me to be really productive, and has helped me to stay productive over the long haul.
While it was a true answer, it was not the answer I wish I’d given, after thinking more about it. (SMH, as my kids would say). I mean, I’m passionate about resting? That sounds like an oxymoron. It sounds like being passionate about napping.
I’m passionate about pace of life, and helping people find sanity and the beauty of Sabbath, because it ties into my larger passion: fighting injustice, especially toward women. I’m passionate about family, and about the hospitality that makes everyone family. Which is why I love Sabbath, and why I keep on telling people: slow down. Work hard, but don’t be so frantic. Breathe.
How does that work?
The verses that invite us to live a sane pace, to work hard for six days and then rest for one, are utterly and unequivocally inclusive. It’s a command that seeks to flatten social hierarchy. Sabbath is also often tied to meals, and again, all those resting people—even servants, even women, even animals for the love, are invited to the table.
“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you” (Ex. 20:8-10, NLT).
Sabbath is a day off, not just for men, not just for the wealthy, not just for one race (even though God gave this command to a particular people). Rich and poor, heirs and servants, people and animals, natives and aliens, men and women. All are invited to rest, to experience grace. I love how God makes sure to mention the disenfranchised (women, servants, foreigners) and close any loopholes to make sure everyone gets equal treatment at least one day of the week.
What does pace of life have to do with my feminist bent? And my passion?
Pace of life, as an issue, affects our entire hurried, worried, culture. It particularly affects women, who feel pressured by society and even other women to do everything perfectly, to be a star at work while being a perfect mom, to manage things at home while leaning in on their career, to do it all. The pace of life issue, created by the pressure to do everything really well, seems greater on women. Ironically, our hurry keeps us from being our best selves. It allows injustice and inequality to remain in place.
Decades ago, Gloria Steinhem wryly observed, “I’ve yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children, and a career. I’ve yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing.”
While work life balance is on more men’s radar today than it was during the first wave of feminism, it doesn’t keep them up at night. No one really asks male executives how they manage to have a high-powered career AND a family. The pressure to be it all and do it all, and look great doing it, falls more heavily on women.
While hurry and busyness are an issue for all people, regardless of gender, women feel particular pressure to do it all, to be it all, to lean in. I’m all for leaning in and testing the limits, especially in this season of my life. But the pace of life issue impacts women in a particularly strong way. It raises our anxiety level, and it’s hard for anxiety and trust to co-exist. And resting, at the heart of it, is all about trust.
But beyond that, pace of life is not my main passion. Fighting injustice is my passion. Helping people, especially women, reach their full potential and find freedom to be themselves and use their gifts, that’s my passion.
I’m grateful that some of the clients I’m working with fight injustice. And I get to use my gifts to help them in that cause:
- Empower International fights injustice against women by educating families, conducting marriage seminars that focus on equality, mutual respect, and love. They’re changing lives around the globe.
- Fellowship Housing comes alongside single moms and offers them a hand up, not a hand out. They teach them to budget and to pay off debt, showing them a path to financial freedom that changes everything for them.
- Prison Fellowship advocates for prisoners, reaches out with a message of hope to those in prison (both men and women), cares for their families (through Project Angel Tree) and advocates for reform of the criminal justice system.
Which is another area of passion: doing work I care about with people I respect. I’m passionate about doing work I feel called to do, that not only helps me provide for my family, but somehow makes the world a better place.
How about you? What are you passionate about?