It is true that paying attention to our heart’s desires, our personal preferences and passions, offers important clues as to our core longings and hopes and dreams. BUT… a fruitful and successful pursuit of our dreams presupposes that we know ourselves well. Launching headlong into a pursuit of the unexamined stirrings of our internal world is fraught with disappointment and disillusionment.
Many a reader of Marsha Sinetar’s, “Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow” bought her book because of its title (which was a great marketing hook, but easily misinterpreted.) In 1984, when it hit the stores, I was facing a significant career change and was eager to read what the author had to say about financial success. But not too long into the text itself, I found myself redirected from the hope that doing what I loved would make me financially successful, to facing the reality that I didn’t yet know myself well enough to even know what I truly wanted. Mildly disappointed (I kind of knew it probably wasn’t as easy as the title promised), I read on. I was intrigued by Sinetar’s perspective and her insight into how a person can mature into first understanding oneself in order to know what one wants and what is right for them.
The entire title of Sinetar’s book is “Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood.” As in most things in life worth pursuing, there is an important first step to take, a discovery phase, in order to know what is true and right for us. Once that is done, our life’s pursuits can be built upon a solid foundation. We skip that step at our own peril and with sometimes disastrous results.
I hope everyone looking for the right path for them will read Sinetar’s book. It will be well worth the time and effort. For the purposes of this article, however, I am writing to those who didn’t take that first step. They launched into a pursuit of what they thought they loved and needed, only to find themselves facing disastrous results. I am writing to anyone who knows what it feels like to “follow your heart,” “do what you love,” and “unshackle your inner beast,” only to find themselves at a dead end. They are full of regrets, buried in undesirable consequences, consequences that may have been predictable and avoidable, if they had only taken the time to think it through. Sometimes we repeated that pattern, picked ourselves up, refocused, and applied ourselves to the pursuit again. And the self-deception goes on, paving the way for yet another round of doing what we “love” into yet another dead end. Some people spend the better part of their lives on this “highway to hell,” so to speak, even enjoying the journey, for a season, sometimes a long season.
[Author’s side note: There is no intent to bring up the specter of eternal punishment in my discussion of this topic. It doesn’t take a belief in a literal hell to recognize the reality of a “hell on earth” existence in which one is trapped in the consequences of our own bad behavior or that of someone else’s.]
Throughout history, bad behavior and its consequences have always been widely reported, exponentially so in these times of lightning speed social media streams. Extreme examples abound of people whose crash and burn stories were splashed all over the news outlets, the web and airwaves. You can read some of their full life histories of years of successful careers, many accomplishments, and celebrity. And then come the subsequent disastrous consequences of their secret, or sometimes not so secret, lives in pursuit of what they “loved”: Harvey Weinstein, and Jeffrey Epstein, and more recently, Matt Lauer,
It is not my intent to judge these men; that is between them, their accusers and their Maker. But it is my hope that their experiences will give us all pause. Whatever it is that we are pursuing which is not based on what is right and true, not only “true for me” or “true for you,” but True and Right and Good according to what God has said is so, will oftentimes lead us into blind alleys, dead ends, disappointment and disillusionment.
At Where Grace Abounds, we are often sitting down with people who are disappointed and disillusioned with the outcomes in their lives. Their hopes and dreams are buried under some tough circumstances. It is a privilege to listen to their stories and offer hope for the future, and pray with them for God’s provision, for His grace, kindness, guidance and direction.
I remember when I first decided to completely regroup, rethink and recommit to a better way of living. It was the seventies, I was a new Christian, and heard for the first time the Gaithers’ song, Joy Comes in the Morning. The lyrics, “If you’ve knelt beside the rubble of an aching broken heart, when the things you gave your life to fell apart,” were so true of my life. “You’re not the first to be acquainted with sorrow, grief and pain, but the Father promised sunshine after rain. Joy Comes in the Morning.”
Repentance comes in response to God’s kindness (Romans 2:4). I turned over my life to Him and have never regretted it. From time to time I revisit the memories, sometimes reliving the pain of it all as I listen to others who are going through it now. It is a blessing to offer the comfort I have received from following Him and His ways (2 Cor. 1:3-6).
May we all find the pursuit of what we love to be first the pursuit of God, a life following Jesus, and then our true fulfillment as He shows us who we are, what we really want, and what our purpose is. That is life and life abundant (John 10:10).
Mary is one of the founders of Where Grace Abounds and served as Executive Director from its inception on July, 1986 through March 31st, 2007. She speaks and teaches at churches and conferences across the country. She has also served on several boards of non-profit organizations, is a conference speaker on a variety of topics that include: Intimacy with God, Healthy Sexuality, and leadership development. Currently serving in leadership in her denomination, Mary’s favorite ministry roles are discipleship counseling, group facilitation, and leadership development. Mary often characterizes herself as “a seeker of Truth” and has a long-standing fascination with human behavior and motivation. Her education consists of lay and discipleship counseling, independent study about the integration of psychology and theology, counseling and human sexuality. She also holds a BS in Human Services and an MA in Psychology from Regis University. Mary attends a Friends (Quaker) Church.
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