Passion Is Not the Same As Fast
I heard this phrase rush through me as I laid down flat on my back. My friend Gabrielle was praying over me, and I was supposed to be receiving it. I will say, it’s rarely easy for me to sit still and receive- no matter what it is. But as I lay there quietly, my body mind and spirit all felt unusually in sync and peaceful. I heard her say the word “passion” somewhere in her conversation with the Lord. Immediately my body, perhaps even more than the rest of me, felt deep truth wrap around me like a warm blanket. “Ashley, passion is not the same as fast.” For some context: The evening before, my sweet Esther Rose clung to me tightly as the thunderstorm loudly crashed around us. “Mad sky mommy. I do not like.” I tried to comfort her by explaining to her, “Loud is not the same as mad.” So, when I heard this parallel analogy the next day in prayer, I immediately recalled the reference. The Lord was drawing to attention in me that something I have always perceived to be true was not as it seemed. I’ve been pondering this.
Passion is not the same as fast.
When I was younger, I was a sprinter- a hurdler specifically. I never ran cross country because it took too long. I liked the speed of sprinting. “Explode out of the blocks!” I can hear my dad/coach still holler. The goal was to get out of the blocks quicker and faster than anyone else, get over the first hurdle before anyone else, and likewise, across the finish line before anyone else. At a track meet, there were hundreds of people filling the stands watching you “explode” and then crash in exhaustion at the end of the race. This is how I’ve done much of life. Passionately. With intensity and fire. Physically, I always had strong legs- my thighs, to be honest, were like rocks. They needed to be for the speed. But over the years, things have changed. I no longer physically run sprints, but I believe I still try to function like a sprinter. Such has gone the draining cycle of my journeys- explode, stride, crash, repeat. However my muscles are no longer built for this. My mind doesn’t do well at this pace. And my spirit feels so drained by the crash at the end. So, I hear in the Lord’s whisper to me a warm ray of hope and sunshine. It’s time for a new kind of journey. Instead of a sprint (and I do bless that season of my life) it’s time for something more akin to a mountain hike.
I’ve done many mountain hikes over the years and one thing I’ve learned; you don’t go fast. You pace yourself. When we hike, we take time to stop and enjoy where we are, pause to notice the small things. We go at a pace that we can be aware of our surroundings and those on the hike with us (the goal is not the first one to a destination, but rather enjoying the journey together.) There is no audience for our hikes, but conversely, we become spectators of God’s creation. We, along with the rocks and trees and angels can stop and declare the work of His hands along the hike. Hikes take acclamation and endurance. They take patience and strength. The last hike we went on I was reminded that it’s a whole new muscle group I am not always used to moving.
So how then do we keep the passion when setting a new pace on a new kind of journey? I don’t often relate slow and steady to passion. The original word comes from Latin and means “suffer” which is why we call the crucifixion of Jesus “The Passion.” In English it has many meanings, but it’s often used when describing a powerful or compelling emotion. So, as I reflect on these ingredients together, I hear a recipe for endurance.
Passion perhaps then means an acceptance of suffering, compelled forward by deep love. This kind of passion doesn’t burn out after a few months. It isn’t motivated by audience applause or arriving first. It can be slow, day to day grind, and is not rewarded quickly. This passion is steady, consistent, tiring but driven by a deep and lasting love.
Hebrews reminds us of the reason for this endurance and passion:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let’s set aside everything that easily trips us up and run with endurance the race set before us, looking at Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the same and was set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
And in 1 Corinthians Paul reminds us what it looks like:
‘(Passion) is patient. (Passion) is kind. It does not envy or boast. It is not proud. (Passion) is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered or is happy with evil. (Passion) rejoices in truth. It can bear all things, believe all things and hopes all things.
(Passion) does not give up.’
I don’t know about you, but when I go too fast for too long, giving up is the first thought on my mind. So maybe as I seek a different kind of passionate journey with Jesus, I worry less about the speed, less about the crowd, less about comparing myself to others next me, and instead learn to enjoy and delight in His creation and remind others that we are enduring together as His love for us compels us forward.