Follow your heart, they say.
Stories like how an actor first landed a major film role, or how a musician finally broke the charts inspire the next generation to be on fire with their passions. These people whom we look up to would commonly advise dreamers to “pursue your heart’s desires and chase that larger-than-life dream.”
But today I tell you, this has to be the most terrible advice to give someone ever.
First, the world today interprets the word “passion” in the wrong way. We think it’s the set of skills we have that give us pure indulgence whenever we do it. But in its original Latin term pati, the word passion actually means to ‘suffer’ for the goal. It means to be willing to get hurt during the pursuit of dreams.
Second, the world will make us believe that our dreams are all that life is about. When I was 20, a fresh graduate, and ready to take over the world, my heart immediately got broken after not receiving callbacks from the companies I was eyeing. It felt frustrating to get another job that was far from what I aspired.
While my mind was set on becoming a brand manager for a consumer product, I was out on the field convincing business owners to listen to my sales presentation. Just like most people, I didn’t know what I was doing in my first job. I felt like a failure because I didn’t measure up to my dreams. My parents didn’t work hard to support my schooling so I’d end up in a job like this.
When our passion is different from our reality, shame floods in and you ask yourself, “What happened to my life?“
Misguided passion calls us to operate out of emotions. Imbalance happens when we cave into what our heart tells us. It drives us to irrationally fight for what we love, bending the rules and insisting our arguments for the sake of the pursuit, for the sake of fancying the goal. Without knowing it, every time that we solely listened to our hearts, a hole in it is temporarily filled but another hole tears wide open.
The heart affects the direction of our thoughts, the manner of our actions, the delivery of our words, and the pattern of our mood. That’s how important hearts are.
If the heart is where life in us springs, then its flow shouldn’t just be followed. It should be led. (2 Thessalonians 3:5) The way we live is an indication of our heart’s condition, the heart being the core of every person. It affects the direction of our thoughts, the manner of our actions, the delivery of our words, and the pattern of our mood. That’s how important hearts are. No wonder, then, that the Bible warns us in Jeremiah 17:9 that “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?“
Have you ever chased your heart’s desire and ended up blindly doing things? The story doesn’t get a happy ending, does it? The thing is people seek their passion but not very often look for their purpose.
Whenever I tend to get confused about who I am, I remind myself that every creation has a purpose. Think of it like this: Although made from the same materials, the carpenter did not design a chair to function as a dining table. Each creation was made special in its own way.
With God being the Carpenter and us being the woodwork, our works are nothing compared to His purpose. (Proverbs 19:21) Following the illustration, I’d like to emphasize two points:
Your unique design serves your unique purpose.
A chair is for sitting, a table for placing things. When a person sits down on a chair, the chair serves its purpose and is maximized. But when a person sits on a table, the table fulfills the task but its state is compromised. It’s the same thing with people – we cannot alter the roles that God appointed to each and everyone of us. When we work outside of our purpose, we undermine our value.
Your humble role completes the greater purpose.
A table cannot say “I am more important than a chair because I can accommodate more items.” On the other hand, the chair cannot say “I am more important than the table because I do not take up much space.” God has given us unique strengths that are equally important for the completion of His purpose. (1 Corinthians 3:8) We are different members but we are operating in one body.
Do not be deceived by your passion but direct it towards the purpose of God. Dream big dreams not only for and through yourself, but for God and through God. Let us ask in faith with the intention of knowing His desires. (James 4:3-4)
The beauty of having an intimate relationship with God is that He also gives us personal revelations. Because we have the option to listen to the instructions of God or to the self-serving teachings of the world, we strive all the more to protect our conversations with Him. (2 Peter 3:17)