How Your Greatest Struggles Shape You

struggles in life

Audrey Hepburn moved through life like a queen. She walked elegantly, dressed beautifully, and lived luxuriously. She was a movie star, known for her outward appearance. But what I admire about her is what the world couldn’t see: her inward beauty, borne in the struggles she survived. She could have allowed her early life experiences to harden her or make her bitter. Instead, she let her greatest struggles lead to the two passions that mattered most to her: being a mother and working with UNICEF to help children.

Audrey lived through World War II as a child in Europe. Nazis imprisoned her brother in a labor camp. She watched two of her family members get shot in the streets. She saw children starve to death. She herself nearly starved, which caused long-term respiratory problems and anemia. As a young wife, she had multiple miscarriages and a stillbirth. Despite all she went through, she remained warm and kind. She let her suffering serve a purpose—to help others.

Great struggle can lead to great passion.

For Audrey, living through the horrors of war fostered her passion for aiding people in dire need. So she didn’t become entitled when she gained fame as an actress. She used her fame to become a UNICEF Ambassador. “I can testify to what UNICEF means to children,” she once said, “because I was among those who received food and medical relief right after World War II.” Her struggle inspired her to help others in the same way others once had helped her. What are your struggles in life? Use them to fuel a passion to help others who can’t help themselves.

During the struggle, we can’t always predict the passion.

While Audrey was starving during the war, I bet she never thought she’d someday help provide food to suffering children. It is difficult to imagine in the midst of suffering that eventually, our suffering will serve a purpose. We can’t always tell which passions God is developing while we struggle. But I believe that God is always shaping us. He’s preparing us for what we’re called to do. The challenges I faced as a mom with five children resulted in my passion for helping mothers. And that passion resulted in iMOM. While I struggled back then, I had no idea where my struggles would take me. What struggles are you enduring now? They can lead you to pursue your next passion.

God is still working on us.

As Audrey faced each new struggle in each new season of life, she allowed struggles in life to shape her. As mothers, God uses struggles with our kids to shape us. But parenting is a short season of life. Yes, we are parents forever, even after our children leave home. Then, when the day-to-day parenting is done, God uses whatever comes next, including new struggles, to shape us even more. But one of the hard parts of facing yet another new struggle is allowing it to lead us to a new passion. It’s easier to allow bitterness or defeat to settle in. It’s easier to dwell on the reality that our struggles may never disappear completely. But God can use our struggles to open our hearts to passions that will change our lives and other people’s—if we let Him.

What struggles have helped you discover your passions?