Friday, August 19, 2011

Giving Birth to Our Dreams: Drawn or Driven?

If you've been following my blog of late, then you know that I am in the beginning stages of giving birth to a dream of starting an urban Christian retreat center in Indianapolis. This endeavor is in partnership with Sustainable Faith in Cincinnati and is called Sustainable Faith Indy.

From the beginning of this dream's inception, I have had tremendous energy for this endeavor. But about two or three weeks ago, the energy changed. It wasn't that I necessarily lost desire, it's more that the passion and movement felt like it was coming from a different place. A more anxious, willful, self-oriented place.

For days now, I've been observing this shift and trying to figure out why my dream had become draining. Through a wonderful book I have been reading, I believe God pointed me to the heart of the matter. I was being driven, not drawn toward this dream.

Margaret Silf, in her book Inner Compass, explains a distinction that St. Ignatious made many centuries ago when he spoke of periods in our life when the inner movement or motives of our heart are drawn toward consolation (in God) or driven toward desolation (away from God).

Smack in the middle of the chapter, she had the audacity to ask me (the reader) a very pointed question: "Am I feeling drawn, powerfully perhaps but always gently, or am I feeling driven?" It took little pondering to know the answer. Driven.

Why had my heart shifted toward desolation and driveness? As I reflect, I see a point when I felt like God was not moving things along solidly enough, quickly enough for my taste. I thought, perhaps, he could use a little help. My help, my initiative, my driveness.

There is something very comfortable, even natural about relying on drive to produce the energy and movement necessary to keep going and continue accomplishing. That's why I think we rarely notice or challenge what's driving us. When I was pressed to stop and clearly ask the question, "Am I being drawn or driven?", it wasn't hard for me to see the source and root of my quest. It was coming from my own self-will and anxiety, rather than from being drawn by God toward God and life and this dream.

One reflection that feels ever-so-subtle is the sense that in my fervor, I began to hide from God. My heart knew that I was straining forward in order to get done what God didn't seem to be getting done. And in the process, I began to follow down the lane of desolation, turning my back upon the precious and faithful presence of God.

So, in the spirit of Margaret Silf and St. Ignatious, may I do a bit of noodling in your life and ask you a question or two:
  • Are you being drawn or driven? Is the movement, action, energy of your life and work coming from a place of consolation or desolation? If you take some time to ponder this question, my guess is you will know.
  • If you are being driven and moving toward desolation, how might you stop in your tracks and reorient your direction toward the One who draws you with loving kindness?
Let's hold one another in prayer that we might give birth to our dreams through the energy and passion of being drawn by God. The fruit of  our life and work will be far sweeter.

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