“Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”Harriet Tubman
I enjoy a lot of things. I like going to the movies, especially when there is a large bucket of buttered popcorn involved. I enjoy riding my longboard or going for walks while listening to music or audiobooks. I love to travel and experience different cultures and environments. These are all things that make up who I identify myself to be. But, can I say that I am passionate about these things?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines passion as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.”
I’ve always been drawn to people who act on their passions. People who are passionate about performing and entertaining leads me to be a part of local theatres. People who are passionate about improving their community and the lives of those who may not share the same privileges has motivated me to be a part of non-profit work. People who have a passion for learning and are open to thought provoking conversations has inspired me to teach bible studies and attend theology discussions. Unfortunately, however, I’ve also been experiencing a bit of whiplash.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary also defines passion as being “a strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way.”
Lately, while looking for signs that people are still living out their passions, I have discovered a jarring trend. More and more people are expressing how passionate they are about the things that divide and separate one another. We are passionate about being right, being heard and being number one. We are passionate about us and them, either/or and “who’s side are you on?” We are passionate about getting our way, how we are affected, and passionate about engaging in wars with anyone who doesn’t see eye to eye with us. What is most alarming is the way we act on those passions.
As I drove around the city yesterday, my head spinning with thoughts such as these, I had the opportunity to witness something that made my eyes begin to well up. Coming up on an intersection I saw a woman jump out of her car and begin trying to push it and steer at the same time. As I began to look for a way to pull over and help, I was moved to see people coming in from all directions, like kernels of popcorn popping onto the scene, to get behind her car and push her to safety.
Before the light had even changed to allow traffic to move on through the intersection, the group had pushed her car into a gas station parking lot and up to a pump. It was when I began getting a closer look at who had been her rescuers in that moment that I began to cry. A youthful Hispanic man jogged back to his car. An older Caucasian man turned to shake hands with the large construction worker next to him as they parted ways.
One man, an African-American with dreadlocks halfway down his back, didn’t rush back to his vehicle right away. Instead he reached into his back pocket and pulled a card out of his wallet and put it into the gas pump. I don’t know what he said to the woman, but she reached out and hugged him for it. Through my tears I cheered.
They were very different people coming together to help a stranger. That is worth being passionate about. That is what loving God and loving others looks like. Even in brief moments, this kind of unity is exactly what it’s going to take to combat the divisiveness and irritation that is perpetuated from our variety of screens.
I have a friend who is frequently going through physical ailments and admits to having to fight her way out of dark depressed places.
“For me,” she said, “doing nice things for others, showing gratitude, random acts of anonymous kindness, and focusing on others helps.”
I felt this was beautifully stated. I loved the idea that serving others can help relieve our own sicknesses.
“I know it’s easier said than done,” she continued,” but I’ve had years of learning the hard way. Looking for joy in everything allows you to find God’s help more easily.”
Where are you passionate today? Is it life-giving? Where could you use just a little push to inspire you to redirect your focus? In the words of my friend and in the faces of the roadside rescuers I found Jesus. I’d love to see Jesus in you too! Need a push?