I recently shared about the crazy life-changing adventure we’re going on next year. But I also want to address a few things that have come up in talking about it with you in the comments or social media about pursuing passions.
There are different seasons to life. There are times when opportunity strikes and when it doesn’t. There are times when either the budget or your time cannot be stretched any thinner. While we believe in pursuing an intentional life that uses your gifts and fulfills your passions, we don’t believe in shirking responsibility, living in a dream world, or being perpetually discontent with life when it’s not perfect.
Most of the time, the vast majority of us are dealing with the less than ideal. Maybe that dream of grad school isn’t possible right now with small children at home. Maybe you wish you could stay home with your kids, but it’s not a financially viable option right now. Maybe you’re doing a job you don’t want to be doing, but you desperately need it to pay the bills. How do you survive those times?
Because we’ve been there, here are a few things we’ve learned:
Live in the present
While certain things about our situation in the past few years haven’t been ideal, we still look on them as very happy years for our family. Perhaps the happiest of our lives. Just because everything isn’t stacking up how you dreamed, doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. Don’t make the mistake of being perpetually discontent and always reaching for that next thing. There’s a kind of person who refuses to be happy no matter how great their situation and a kind of person who refuses to be discontent in the most difficult of circumstances. Nurture contentment.
Cultivate gratefulness to enjoy the now.
It might not be ideal, but there’s surely something to be grateful for. Maybe your job just pays the bills. While it might not be satisfying your dreams of personal fulfillment, if it pays the bills that’s certainly something to be grateful for! There’s nothing small about the grace of a consistent paycheck and being able to provide for your family.
When I was working full-time outside the home when my firstborn was a baby it was hard. I didn’t want to be working. I wanted to be home with my baby and leaving him each morning caused me physical pain. But a job with benefits that supported us and allowed Daniel to wrap up his degree–that was something to be grateful for. And so I tried to remember that the way I was called to love my family in that season might not be what I wanted to be doing forever, but it was the best I could do right then. Remembering that it was a season that wouldn’t last forever helped me make it through.
Sometimes a change either isn’t possible or would negatively impact your family. I think we all can think of someone whose family paid the price for the pursuit of his/her dream. If that’s the case, then it’s not the right season to pursue your passions. If pursuing your dream means stressing out your marriage or not being the parent you need to be to your children, take a step back and….
Do what you CAN to help your life reflect what you care about.
Maybe you can’t drop everything right this minute and pursue your dream. (That was us for several years.) Say your dream is buying a farm, but you don’t have the expertise needed to make it successful and you haven’t built up the savings you’d need to buy one (this is getting a bit autobiographical). Get some backyard chickens! Grow a vegetable garden! Do what you CAN to help your life reflect what you care about.
If you’re dreaming of going back to grad school, but it’s not the right time, do what you can to fulfill your desire to learn and grow and prepare yourself for when the time is right. No one says you can’t read books about the field you want to pursue, discuss ideas with fellow thinkers, catch up on academic journals, or attend open to the public lectures. You may not be enrolled in classes, but you can still use your public library. Do what you can to pursue your dream in your current situation without sacrificing your marriage or family. In addition to being fulfilling, these small steps will also make you more prepared when the time is right to make a big change. But…
Don’t lose your dream.
Do not let discontentment with the less-than-perfect steal your joy. Don’t be unrealistic about what you want instead of taking small steps to seek those goals in your current life. But don’t settle, either. Let yourself dream. And when the opportunity arises to pursue that life you love, don’t be afraid to seize it just because things are safe and comfortable. Adventures are never very safe and comfortable. If they were, they wouldn’t be adventures, right?
What are small ways you pursue your passions during the seasons when you can’t drop everything for your dream? Let’s start a conversation in the comments!