Did you know that in Texas you can get a motorcycle license at age 15?
You can only imagine how I felt when at age 14 my son Isaac started begging for a motorcycle. Being the average, worse-case-scenario-thinking kind of mother that I am, I dug in my heels and with a convincing NO as my final answer, worried myself into a tizzy for months. I just knew deep inside that in the end, my protests, although heard, would be strongly rebutted, and my firm vote would eventually be vetoed. Isaac presented hours of research, all kinds of convincing statistics, and has a father that was mostly on his side; he also has a trustworthiness that I simply could not overlook. So I was compelled to re-evaluate my position; I slowly began to soften, and with somewhat of an aching heart, I surrendered.
He is now almost 18 and has already owned 5 different motorcycles. He has worked and paid for every single one, even making a decent profit from each in order to upgrade to the next. As soon as he would buy one, he was ready to change or improve something, or even already dreaming of the next one.
I have watched Isaac walk through our back door time after time with not only a priceless smile on his face, but also a special, satisfied bounce in his step. He speaks to me about his motorcycles as if they are his children, recounting his latest dreams for them and how he plans to pay for the next gadget that will improve whatever. Sometimes I see this great joy when he returns from a glorious pleasure ride, but other times I see it when he walks in from countless hours of taking his motorcycle apart, tweaking, improving, painting, or all out rebuilding. Occasionally he requests an audience of friends, or help from his father; but most of the time the only company he needs is a devoted heart and good music.
Isaac has found his passion.
Isaac doesn’t just like his fast and fun toy; he is a gifted, natural mechanic that is willing to pour himself into his dirty, greasy, and sometimes frustrating work. And although he has thoroughly enjoyed motorcycle ownership, he and I both can easily recall that one exception: that one day he came limping into my kitchen, muddy and out of breath after crashing his bike. He was trying out his newest possession on a back road, jumped a curb, and had the motorcycle come out from under him. The bike kept going and Isaac fell backward, hurting his back and probably cracking, or at the very least, bruising his tailbone. He got up, caught his breath, and limped to his bike, having to muster up all the will and strength he could to straighten out the handlebars enough to make it home. The days that followed were miserable and uncomfortable. Even so, he would wander out to the garage at least once a day, slowly, painfully straddling his bike, dreaming of the day it and he would be restored. As painful as it was, his love and passion could not, and would not let him stay off of his bike for long.
As I have watched my son’s dedication to his passion and seen him delight in his work, he has taught me two valuable lessons.
Passion comes with risk.
Driving a motorcycle is dangerous. Isaac tells me that most accidents are the result of distracted drivers. These come in all shapes and sizes. It could be a new mom too distracted with her child to look both ways before cutting him off. It could be a careless 20-year-old who moves into Isaac’s lane because he is too busy on his phone to pay attention. It could even be something as simple as being rear-ended making a turn because the driver behind him wasn’t watching for signals. So for someone like Isaac, it isn’t so much about being a daredevil, stupid or reckless, but having to be on guard all the time for drivers around him (that are stupid and reckless). Even with all precautions in place, a wreck on a motorcycle could cause much more injury than being protected by the body of a car. In the end, however, for him, the joy is worth the risk.
Perhaps you aren’t out there having to watch your back, paying attention to each and every driver on the road who could possibly have your life in his hands, but when we go all in, as Isaac does, living and dedicating ourselves, our time, and our resources to enjoy what we truly love, that which makes us feel alive, we are always risking something.
We can’t allow our fears to stop us from climbing onto our passion and riding with complete abandon. If we do we will get nowhere; we will miss this great gift God has given us, and the satisfaction of getting to meet others that are moved by the same things that move us. We also would not be allowing those who perhaps don’t understand our passion, or can’t relate to it, to delight in the joy they see it brings us.
It would be so much safer for me, and perhaps for you too, to guard myself from damage, hurt, mistakes, humiliation, and rejection than to mount onto that which gives me life. Perhaps I will never become an elite runner, a master chef, or a published writer, but I have learned through Isaac’s passion that the risks are worth taking when I want to find joy and feel God’s life and goodness flowing through me. So I choose to run with passion, cook with passion, and I’m learning, day after day, to write with passion, too.
Passion always moves us forward.
At first I was concerned about Isaac’s compulsion of moving from one bike to the next, of never being satisfied with what he had and wanting to change something about it the minute he owned it. I disliked his obsession, mistaking it for lack of contentment, but now I realize that this is not the case at all. His passion isn’t just about having and riding a motorcycle; it is about the journey that always keeps him moving forward.
Passion drives, passion challenges, passion makes us want to be better at what we do. Passion is not about becoming perfect, but it is about learning to be better than we were the day before. I am a faster runner than I was a year ago, and I can run further than I did two years ago; I experiment with new recipes, some great and some not so much. I struggle daily, sometimes for hours at a time, with words, sentence structures, and punctuation–not to mention the fact that I must face my own shortcomings and insecurities, trusting that I won’t be crushed by my imperfections as an aspiring writer in order to become a better one.
Had I put my foot down and convinced his father that there was NO WAY we were going to allow our son to risk his life every time he walked out the door, I would have done my boy a great disservice. I would have stolen his passion. I am convinced that demanding the “safer” alternative by shutting that door in his face, in the end, would have been far more dangerous than letting him ride motorcycles. It actually brings me great joy to see Isaac marvel at what he has and what he has been able to do with it.
I’m also learning to trust God with my own passions, to believe that he gave them to me not to frustrate me, scare me, or keep me paralyzed in fear, but to bring them forth to the world in love, always pointing to Him, not just for my own joy, but also for the joy of those around me.
What risks are you taking to find fulfillment in your passion? What fear keeps you from being willing to take that risk? Rejection? Loneliness? Failure? Humiliation? Losing your investment?
Are you choosing a “safer” alternative that is keeping you from moving forward and being fully alive?
Join me today, and let’s choose passion.