I feel like I’m taking a risk with the photo I chose for this post. When you look at it, do you see passion in a good way…as in a passion for dancing that led to the work involved in being able to do this? Wow! Or, what they are depicting as not so pure? Is it beautiful or does it remind you of sin? To tell you the truth, when I typed in “passion” to find an appropriate photo, I was a little nervous as to what I would see. And I saw it all. The good, the bad and the ugly. Which tied in perfectly to this post.
I was invited to speak at a retreat recently, and afterward was approached by someone who mentioned that whenever I said “passion,” she had an automatic negative reaction to the word. She was most helpful, and I thank her for her candidness. Indeed, when we speak of our passions in the context of our Faith, they are most often related to sin. It turns out that she is not the only one who has this reaction. It’s caused me to pause and consider my use of the word.
If you have been reading my blog posts, and following the programs coming out of Holistic Christian Life, you know that I say I have a passion for health and wellness and for helping Orthodox Christians get healthy. I truly believe this passion is from God, and I use the terms “passion” and “passionate” quite freely. It is being used for good (I hope!) and for love for His people, so I’ve attributed this passion as coming from God. I’ve even heard people say that they have a passion for God!
The first time I thought about passions with a negative connotation was about 25 years ago when a friend told me that she wished that God would just take her. That she wanted to be free from her passions, because they were tormenting her, and she didn’t want to be a part of this fallen world any longer. To her, the word “passion” meant a sinful nature. It took me a while to figure this out. I think we can all relate to struggling with the sin in our lives, and wishing that we didn’t have to struggle. During my Evangelical Christian walk at the time, the word “passions” used for sinful temptations struck me as odd. The only connection I could make with a negative connotation was when it’s used in a sexual way, and not within the sanctity of marriage.
This caused me to do further study into the word, and into the Word!
A short synopsis of Merriam-Webster’s definition of passion includes:
The sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death (Is anyone else surprised that this ranked #1?)
Intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction
All of the scripture verses I found use the word passion in a sinful, negative way. Indeed, the Orthodox Christian use of the word goes back to the Greek root, which is path, or “to suffer.” The Hebrew word for passion means…well…passion. So not very helpful.
After all is said and done, I’m thinking I will change the word I use. After all, I am talking to Christians about their lifestyle and living in a way that pleases God. I’m not addressing the secular world about “living with passion” or other modern turns of phrase.
Mr. Google gave me “20 Words to Use Instead of Passion,” and upon careful consideration, I’ve chosen to skip “possessed” and “rabid” and will probably settle on “inspired” or “determined.” I’m happy to take a poll…