As we start a new year, people everywhere will be making new resolutions. There’s something about the start of a new year that pushes us to new goals and dreams.
Many of us believe that to set the best course for our lives we should follow our “passion” or follow our “heart.” The trouble is, more often than not, that we have difficulty determining what our true passions really are.
Just over a year ago, members of our church pointed me toward a powerful new way to set goals, dreams and visions. It was based on the writings of a man named Umair Haque in Harvard Business Review.
Put simply, Haque says don’t follow your passion, and don’t follow you heart. Follow your heartbreak.
In a blog titled, “How To Have A Year That Matters,” Haque suggests that listening and responding to the things that break our heart about the world can actually lead us to great clarity about our life’s purpose.
He says it this way: “If you want to find your passion, surrender to your heartbreak. Your heartbreak points towards a truer north — and it’s the difficult journey towards it that is, in the truest sense, no mere passing idyllic infatuation, but enduring, tempestuous passion.”
The moment I first heard of this suggestion, I knew it revealed great spiritual truth.
I’ve seen it time after time. Ask a person “What are you passionate about?” and you’re likely to meet blank stares and silence.
But ask a person, “What breaks your heart about the world?” and almost everyone launches into an answer filled with passion, longing and clarity.
The answers are limitless: poverty, racism, child abuse, hunger and hundreds more. The things that break our heart are often based on painful things that have happened to us, or someone we know.
Then, after a person answers this first question, another one soon follows: “So, what are you going to do about it?”
What actions do you feel called to take to change the things that break your heart? The moment you can answer this second question, you have found a new way to express your true passion and life’s calling.
Asking the question “What breaks my heart about the world?” can reveal the deep, long-term calling we most need in life, with even more clarity than simply asking “What do I resolve this year?”
Because the things that tend to break our hearts — in our lives, society and the world — often reveal those passions. They point to the sufferings we are called to redeem, the pains we are called to assuage, the situations that perhaps we have been uniquely created, placed and gifted to impact.
Spiritually, we know that God can use heartbreak for great things. So many great social service agencies and movements are born out of the heartbreak of a few passionate people.
So, don’t listen to your heart. Listen to your heartbreak. Follow where it leads you, and you just might discover your true passion for this coming year.
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