Passion stems from the Latin work pati, meaning “to suffer.” The stem pass comes from the word passive meaning “capable of suffering.” Pass was coined in the early 16th century to denote “the suffering of Christ on the cross.” English also acquired the word through the Old French word passion meaning “strength of feeling.” This has been transferred in our modern times to denote sexual attraction and anger. (From this website.)
I was watching an interview of actor Jim Caviezel who portrayed Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson’s movie Passion of the Christ. Jim has a powerful testimony of the physical trauma he endured during the making of that film. The movie came out in 2004 when I was in the beginning stages of divorce after my former spouse left me. I was devastated. Also within that year my grandmother and youngest brother had died, I lost my home, I had to change churches to begin the healing process (distancing me from my support system), my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and underwent a serious surgery out of State, I lost my job, and had to store my things in 5 places while I began the first of what would become 5 moves of residence. One of these was after a condo fire which displaced me into a temporary apartment with only the clothes on my back for a time. Talk about suffering! Still this was nothing compared to what my Lord had suffered on the cross for my salvation. But I tell you, I simply could not watch that movie during that time in my life. I was too traumatized. It would just be too painful on too many levels.
This week marks the 5-year anniversary of when I first started having wretched seizure attack episodes on a daily basis. I had gotten sick with a biotoxin illness for 6 months before then when an “alternative” treatment modality triggered the onset of seizures. (These continued today although gratefully the pattern is changing some again and this could become a good thing.) The suffering with these often violent convulsions has been tremendous. Never would I have imagined such a terrible, terrible illness. (See them here.) Even the tumultuous years around 2004 do not compare to what I have endured more recently. Even those who agonized with me during the various aspects of the stress 13 years ago do not compare to what my beloved husband Steve has endured with me during this illness. Suffering of this magnitude brings hell to earth for a part of every day.
There are other periods of time that I would characterize as suffering: the incidents of abuse in my childhood. Some were sexual, others physical beatings, and several involved satanic rituals. All were profoundly damaging and required years of help, love, and the healing grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ to overcome. The abuse kept my mind, body, and emotions trapped in various ways for decades affecting my ability to function as an adult woman. Somehow I did find my way out when I found Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; eventually the pain, the “suffering” largely went away. Self-destructive habits and negative thought processes faded. Forgiveness and healing took its place. I became more whole, interestingly surging even now to a new level of peace as the seizure attacks lessen. Suffering from abuse no longer troubles my spirit.
The Lord doesn’t waste anything in His plan for our lives. After 2006, I got to experience a magnificent restoration from the “years the locusts had eaten.” (Joel 2:25) For example, the insurance settlement from the condo fire (where I was renting an apartment) ended up paying for beautiful décor in a condo of my own where I could rebuild my life as a single woman. Flash forward to more recently and I wrote here of the blessings that have come despite enduring a serious illness including meeting all of you through this blog! And all that childhood sorrow gave me a compassion for others that has served me well caring for others for decades as an occupational therapist. Despite my suffering, I am grateful that my Heavenly Father and Husband has allowed me to see His hand, His plan that has masterfully created goodness from the suffering He ultimately allowed for His glory. I now believe it was all for my good too.
And what about the more contemporary definition the word “passion?” The connotation of emotional, physical, sexual energy? Let’s just say there is much in my life now to be passionate about in having a wonderful husband (my “intended beloved”) who loves the Lord and me too. Then there’s my love of growing things in the garden (from my mom) that has kept me moving forward on my worst of days in addition to my best of days. I love digging in the dirt! Perhaps most importantly is my passion to champion the calling of the Holy Spirit when He compels me to: serve someone, encourage someone, love someone, share the hope found in Jesus Christ with someone. When I hear the call of the Holy Spirit moving me in a particular direction, I move forward with a razor-sharp focus that consumes whatever energy and resources are available to me at that moment. Whether it is in the middle of the night making my husband’s lunch for work the next day or baking cookies (despite a terrific headache) for that service dude who is having a really, really bad day. Me and my Lord getter done!
This I have come to know: that if the Lord calls, He empowers us to respond. That is what passion is all about, good or bad. And guess what? He made the suffering, all of it, good for us on Easter morning. How about if we keep this in mind the next time he calls?