By Suanne Camfield
I was flipping through this quarter’s issue of FullFill Magazine and was struck by the diversity of the author’s passions-justice, mentoring, spiritual formation, motherhood-and momentarily wondered why such worthwhile callings didn’t making my blood pump a little faster. Why my own passion meter didn’t skyrocket on issues I believe to be invaluable to the shaping of God’s kingdom. And then I figured out why. It’s because I hate to garden.
Honestly, I wish I didn’t because I like the idea of gardening (and I think gardeners have an artistic flair and whimsical charm that makes me want to be just like them). But each spring I trudge through Home Depot with a flat-bed cart optimistic that this will be the year I fall in love with shady groundcover, hearty annuals and organic fertilizer. And every year, without fail, I leave overwhelmed and frustrated, because the truth is, I just don’t like to garden.
Willing ourselves to be passionate about something doesn’t really work, does it? Mustering desire for work that doesn’t bring us joy or that we’re not inherently good at can leave us feeling inadequate and unfulfilled-no matter how much we want to like it. But rather than questioning why we don’t feel motivated to serve in specific areas, maybe we need to embrace the fact that our pulse doesn’t quicken-not because the work isn’t worthwhile-but because it’s not the work that God has uniquely equipped us to do.
Even though I don’t enjoy the intricacies of gardening, do you know what I do love? Other people’s gardens. By definition, I relish them. I have a “pleasurable appreciation” for them. And when I relish other people’s gardens-the kind of relishing that’s free from jealousy, comparison and self-doubt-I experience freedom in my passion because I finally accept that the work God has prepared in advance for someone else to do is not the same (exact) work he has prepared for me to do.
There are some areas in our lives that God gives us permission to stand back and nod in appreciation over the beautiful landscape someone has created. Cut yourself some slack and take in the view. But in those moments when something is different, when you read an article on HIV/AIDS orphans and your heart slams in your chest, or your church asks for volunteers to lead the next small group and your palms start to sweat, pay attention. After all, we don’t serve a God who asks us to--appreciate him. We serve a God who asks us to recognize our influence, be confident in who he’s created us to be, and then get on our hands and knees and start digging in the dirt.