Let me guess.
You confessed it to a friend one night. They laughed.
So you never brought it up, again.
Or maybe, you tried and fell flat on your face to the delight of others.
You don’t dare be mocked, again.
And, yet, you know this is why you were made. . . to serve in this way, to love in this way, to be a light in this way.
It’s a horrible tension, friend. I know, I’ve been there.
For a long time, whenever I mentioned my blog, I was met with silence or a quick change of the topic.
Many people thought—some still do—that my writing was a selfish endeavor in which I should give up to spend more time doing what they deemed more important.
(Thankfully, these people don’t live in my house because if they could see the mess in my living room as I type away, well, they might think their point’s proven. . .)
It was awkward and uncomfortable, and all I wanted was their support and maybe a little bit of excitement towards the thing that makes me come alive.
So what did I do? And what can you do when faced with criticism or apathy?
How to Respond When Others Don’t Support Your Passions
1. Turn to God
First and foremost, friend, we have to take it to God. If we truly believe that this is where God is leading us, we need to release it from our grasp and let God move in His way.
I know this will seem counter-intuitive at first. When someone tells me I can’t do something or I shouldn’t do something, I want to run ahead and show them just how they wrong they were. Ha! Sucker, look at me!
Unfortunately (okay, fine, fortunately!), we can guarantee that mockery and being rude aren’t part of God’s plan. So let’s start from a place of humility and empathy.
2. Start with Empathy
In my researching and writing on callings and passions, I’ve found many people feel like God skipped over them or that it’s too late to pursue their dreams.
There’s a good chance someone once made them feel stupid about their own passions.
When we start gushing about our dreams, we have no idea what it may be bringing up for them. It’s possible they might be feeling:
Most likely, their reaction has very little to do with you or your abilities. So with that in the back of your mind, let’s move on to the tricky parts.
3. Discussion Time
Your next steps will depend on a couple of factors:
1. How close are to this person? There’s quite a bit difference between your closest friend and an old high school acquaintance you accepted a friend request from onFacebook. One deserves a conversation; the other not so much.
2. Is there any truth to what they’ve said? Did it hurt because you’ve wondered the same things, too? When others bring up our insecurities, it stings. This is especially true when they say things like, “what about the kids?” or “shouldn’t you be focused on your own home, first?” (If this is something you’re concerned about, you may want to check out this post on using your passions to love others well right where you are.)
3. Do you think this person is hurting? If so, proceed with love and grace. If approached the right way, you may inspire them to go after their own passion. Or invite them into yours. (They may find this series helpful in finding and nurturing their own passions.)
4. Is this person spiritual? If this person doesn’t believe in a higher power, you may have a harder time explaining to them feeling made to do this. But I’ve found most people understand and totally support loving and serving others, regardless of their religious affiliation.
5. Is it affecting this person? How does you pursuing your passion impact this person? When it’s your spouse or your children, the impact is pretty direct. If you living out your gifts has little to no impact on this person, well, why are you letting them have a say in your life? Is this a pride issue?
(There are some people it’s better off for you to simply ignore them. But if Spirit has prompted you to talk to this person, I’ve got some tips for you.)
Truthfully, I haven’t always done this part right, so my tips come from a mix of what I wish I would have done and what I’m glad I did.
1. Create time. Find time where you will both be mentally present. If this seems impossible, consider emailing, but remember sometimes our tone and intention are hard to read through text.
2. Pray first. Pray together, if possible.
4. Share your heart—humbly and without defensiveness. (easier said than done!)
5. Listen. Take time to really listen to their concerns.
5. Invite them in. Ask them if they’d like to join you at your next class or while you craft or help you edit or whatever it is. If not, would they be willing to pray for you, your heart, your intentions, and those you hope to serve?
4. Decisions, Decisions
I wish I could guarantee that this approach will always work. I can’t. And it won’t. Not what you want to hear when you get all the way to step four, huh?
But the reality is while sometimes people will understand immediately, others will need time, and still others will never come around. So now you have a decision—and it’s why step one is what it is.
Will you pursue your passion—what you believe you were made for—and risk this relationship? Will you modify what it looks like to better fit your current situation? Will you give it up, completely?
I can’t answer those questions for you. It’s up to you.
But I do know this, God has created you in a beautiful one-of-a-kind way so that you can uniquely express his love to others. Pursuing our passions, living out our God-given passions will look differently in every season of our lives. We shouldn’tsuppress or escape who we were made to be. It’s our worship to walk as we were made to.
Sweet friend, if you’re about to start your journey to pursue and nurture your callings then this series is just for you.
I believe in you. But more importantly, I believe in the God who has called you and equipped you and has placed just where you need to be to thrive and love others well.
You’ve got this, friend. I just know it.