Finding Our Passion, Finding Our Gift

Quick review time. We’ve discussed a few of Alan Loy McGinnis’ Rules for Building Self- Confidence from his book, Confidence: How to Succeed at Being Yourself.

    • Focus on your potential instead of your limitations
    • Replace self-criticism with regular, positive self-talk.
    • Replace fear of failure with pictures of yourself functioning successfully and happily.
    • Refuse to allow rejection to keep you from taking the initiative with people.

Today let’s focus on McGinnis’ advice to “Find something you like to do and do well, then do it over and over.”

Please don’t stop reading even if you are well along in your career or family life and feel like you’ve followed your passion and are set for life. God keeps calling us to move closer to him, or to improve this world, even when we can look back on our accomplishments with well-earned pride.

 Discover your gift/passion/calling.

Some people know from childhood what their passion in life, or particular gift, is. Others of us would be delighted to follow a passion if we could figure out what that passion is or what gifts we have. We want to use the gifts God gave us to build his kingdom in this world and create more meaning to our lives, but we wonder what does God want us to do, exactly?

In her book, The Eighth Day of Creation: Discovering Your Gifts, Elizabeth O’Connor writes, “We ask to know the will of God without guessing that his will is written into our very beings. We perceive that will when we discern our gifts. Our obedience and surrender to God are in large part our obedience and surrender to our gifts.”

O’Connor believed, “A primary purpose of the Church is to help us discover and develop our gifts and in the face of our fears, to hold us accountable for them so that we can enter into the joy of creating.” She believed that parents bear the same responsibility to their children.

Questions to help us find our passion:

What would we do, if we could do anything? How would we spend our days if money and time were no object? Ok, after we all vacation somewhere without rain or snow, what then? Often our desires tell us what path we are invited to follow. I don’t mean the longing for material things, or the infatuation with a particular person. Rather, does some path stir our very souls?

Can we remember ever being so absorbed in concentration that we were unaware of time? When we were simply present to the moment and invigorated by the experience? For me that happens when I’m writing. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but occasionally the words flow from my soul to my fingers. Then I’m in the zone! I’m in the Holy Spirit. Do you have times like that? Did you a long time ago? What were you doing?

“What would we do if we knew we could not fail?” Not realistic you say? Failure is a very real possibility. In fact, failure is almost guaranteed. At first. That’s how we learn. From our mistakes. We learn by failing and then thinking and trying again. And the learning and trying IS the success. Not the end product. Mother Teresa says, “God doesn’t ask us to succeed. He asks us to be faithful.” O’Connor says, “When we do not allow ourselves the possibility of failure, the Spirit cannot work in us.”

What is the deepest wound of your life? Take a minute here to feel the pain again. I know we become very good at pushing the pain aside. We must, in order to go on with our lives. But feel it for just a minute now. Was it a miscarriage? A loved one’s death? Was it abuse? An illness? An abandonment? Can you feel the tears welling? That tightness just below your heart?

Maybe your passion will be found in protecting others from experiencing that same pain. Or from walking with others as they recover from that experience. Perhaps your passion will lead you back to school to learn to help others heal, either physically or emotionally. Maybe you’ll participate in a support group to encourage and demonstrate how far you can come after the trauma. I know you’ll find that helping others becomes amazingly therapeutic.


This week, let’s spend time in prayer or meditation, asking the Spirit to help us know our calling, but let’s listen to our dreams, too.

Don’t let fear win. Dare to be different. Each of us is unique, and when we try to imitate others, we lose what makes us special. O’Connor says, “We cannot listen and speak and work out of our own centers and at the same time give our attention to weighing whether or not others are approving of us.” Break away from other’s expectations and learn to evaluate criticism, if you pay it any mind at all. My grandma used to say, “Consider the source.”

Be faithful. Follow his leadings. Follow that glimmer that rose to your mind when I asked what you’d do if you knew you could not fail. Because that glimmer is probably the Holy Spirit who is enticing you. Encouraging you. Inviting you.

Be a little careful before talking about what you discover. Though it will be good in time to seek confirmation from others, for now, ponder these things in your heart. Hold them close and don’t subject your glimmer to the harsh logic of others’ opinions until it has grown from a spark to a glowing lantern.


Betty Arrigotti

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