When does passion become obsession?

Oct 06, 2023 by Leoma G Gilley, in INSIDE: Reflections

I recently read Learning Love by Mark Hicks. His fifth component of Love is Passion. He has some wise words like "Passion is not the icing on the cake. It is fuel in the car." (p144) or, "Passion is the energy that propels love." (151) When we have the opportunity to work in an area about which we are passionate, work is not drudgery, it's a blessing. Sometimes I think, I would do this even if I didn't get paid! 

For those with a calling to accomplish something, passion is necessary to keep going in the face of challenges and setbacks. But there is a danger lurking here when "passion" becomes an "obsession". What's the difference you may ask?  According to Hicks, "Obsession tends to creep into ownership, control and possession" at the expense of Acceptance (another component of Love). Some relevant examples given include: "Much of the family dysfunction and political deterioration we have seen recently comes from obsession. People say they love their country but are, in fact, obsessed with their own version of it. People openly talk about burning the country to the ground rather than letting it become different than their idea. This is not passion. It is obsession." (161) When we allow people the freedom to be themselves, that's passion. When we attempt to control and force conformity to a certain type of behavior, that's obsession.

"When people around us begin to suffer for our quest, and our family, friends, and coworkers are harmed, we have left passion and entered into obsession." As I think of the events of the past few days in the House of Representatives, it seems to me that certain members have gone from passion to obsession to the detriment of us all. When compromise becomes a "dirty word" and "cooperation" becomes a sin, we have blocked what we as Americans value so highly, freedom. A few people are forcing us to become the ideal they envision. Hicks warns us, "If you are bringing harm, rethink your perspective. You are most likely in the midst of obsession." May God help us to step back and reconsider our positions.