At age 21, being as young and in love as I am, I should have a glittering perception of what promises to be my incredible future.
My whole life lies before me like an unfurled map and I have every reason to assume that the best is yet to come. I graduate in December, so these next few months I’m studying the land, noting its topography, planting my boots in the dirt and preparing to journey far.
Ever since I was young, I’ve been told things like “Your 20s are your best years,” from everyone. Especially the media.
In these years, we’re more beautiful than we’ll ever be. We have Herculean complexes. We have the immortal bodies and the resilient wills to make change happen. Lots of us fall in love and get married and start branching off. This is the climax of life, the best of times, when we have our sharpest minds and our greatest potential.
How is it, then, that at this golden age of 21, I’m more anxious than ever before?
Maybe it’s because I never stop thinking about the future.
I have every reason to think that my work will pay off, that I’ll get there eventually, that God will bring dreams to fruition in time. At least, I hope He will. Because I think God is the author of passion, and that he places dreams in the hearts of those who want to free captives.
When passion gets lodged deep inside you, in that place in between your heart and your ribcage, there has to be a reason for it. There can’t NOT be. When you walk away from a conversation gasping for breath because you touched where your soul dwells and felt your fingertips graze your inmost desire, the part of you that gives you purpose, mission, and meaning, you just know.
In the same way that you just know that you love someone, that you’re going to spend your whole life falling for them more and more, when you touch what your heart beats for, the reason you were created, there’s no turning back. It’s as intoxicating as love. You want more. You want to breathe it in; swim in its depths. It’s all-consuming. Because it’s what you were born to do.
Warren Barfield has this song about love I really enjoy. It talks about how love changes everything, that when it enters your life everything else becomes relative because you can’t lose the captivating flame you struck. It’s called “Once You Find Love” and the lyrics go:
Once you find love, you can’t let go
Once you find a heartbeat like your own
Wherever it leads you, you must go
Yeah, once you find love you can’t let go
When you find your passion, it’s a lot like finding love. You find yourself being pulled forward by this insatiable, hungry thing living inside you. You start doing insane things, like packing up and moving to Nashville at 19. Everyone else thinks you’re crazy but you’re listening to God so their opinions are meaningless. You can’t let go. Wherever it leads you, you must go.
The skills you have intuitively, the talent you were born with, (despite what you’ve heard, talent can’t be learned), the investments you’ve made into becoming an expert with 10,000 hours under your belt – these are all indicators of where your inborn passion lies.
This is what drives me forward, this engine inside of me that is inexplicable, illogical passion.
I like to believe that my life is a story being written, a good one with lots of action and conflict and a (hopefully) likable protagonist with a fragile heart, borne forward by the intensity of her passion. Like every good story, mine must have an antagonist to be compelling. My antithesis is the enemy of my soul and the foil of my passion is an ugly, never-satisfied glutton: anxiety.
Anxiety is my stalker. It’s obsessed with me. It meticulously collects the names of my fears on a bulletin board that hangs right next to a hit list of my insecurities.
It finds me once a day. I feel it tangibly.
It starts in my chest then winds its way through every part of me. It clenches my heart and paralyzes my body, capitalizing on my long-standing, deep-seated love affair with my future. The questions come from nowhere. Most of them start with the ever accusatory interrogative “How?”
“How are you ever going to do this?”
Then, it starts in with the declaratives. The sharpest knife is always:
“You’re not enough, anyway.”
Despite what’s going on around me, despite those companies interested in eventually hiring me, despite the confidence that wherever I go, I’ll have Chris, despite my assurance that God gave me passion for a reason, I’m still getting stalked feverishly by anxiety.
And I’m freaking so tired of it.
So here’s me turning around in that alleyway and screaming at the top of my lungs,
You don’t own me. You never did.
You operate using fear as your tactic, I operate on a basis of faith in the God who has provided and will provide and will never stop providing.
I am enough. Grace fills these lungs; you cannot revoke it. You cannot and will not suffocate me with your accusations. I am held and nothing you can do will prevent me from being used in this crazy plan God wrote for me before time.
Just stop and pause with me for a moment.
Think hard about the anxieties plaguing you.
Then make like Taylor Swift and shake them off.
Because if you live for this massive salvation, then your life is ministry.
Your job is ministry.
Your relationships are ministry.
Your passion is ministry.
And God doesn’t leave ministry to chance.
He plants it deep and he waters it.
He won’t leave you alone with your anxiety. He gives you what you need, but you have to fight.
Empower yourself with truth, wrap it around your body like armor. Fight hard.
Then watch God make you flourish.