Pursuing Your Passion
By T. Suzanne Eller

My father left home on his 16th birthday and lied about his age to join the Navy, escaping the poverty of his childhood. My mother gave birth to her first child when she was a child herself.

She’s smart beyond a diploma, but even in her early 70’s she still wishes she had finished school.

As a teen I dreamed of college while working as a grocery store cashier on nights and weekends. After graduation, I traveled by bus to another city to live on my own at 17. I was accepted into a small two-year college and won a scholarship for tuition. I worked two jobs during college to pay for room and board, determined to run after my dreams. From the outside looking in, it might appear that fate was my biggest obstacle. No one was going to hand me my dreams. While that’s true, it wasn’t my greatest challenge.

My biggest problem was I had not discovered my true passion.

Distractions or Destiny?

Has someone ever told you that God has a plan for you? Distractions might make you believe otherwise. As a girl, circumstances weren’t on my side, and yet that didn’t cloud God’s view of my life or my future.

Allison Bottke, an author and speaker, married young because she was pregnant. Her husband physically abused her. Later she aborted a second pregnancy. She divorced and sought safety from the abuse. When she became a believer, she took the lessons learned from those situations and reached out to women who faced the same things. They trusted her because she had walked in their shoes.

For the last three years I served as a community mentor in a program called Women of Vision. Along with several other women, I went into area high schools and mentored more than 400 freshman girls. My favorite was an alternative school for teens who hadn’t fared well in traditional high schools. One day I asked a class of girls to share their dreams. One stood, put her hand on her hip, and eyed me up and down. “I don’t have a dream,” she said. “I only have a fantasy.”

“Why is that?” I asked.

“My dreams are fantasies because they’ll never come true.”

This girl was a 14-year-old mom. Boys had lied to her. Her parents had failed her. When I asked about her dreams she only saw my high heels and pretty jacket. Her instant response was, “What does this lady know about real life or my life?”

But when I shared my story, I saw the light come on. We became friends that day and she decided if I could do it, so could she.

Distractions? Or destiny in God’s hands? My obstacles shaped me and taught me as I overcame them, but more importantly, they allowed me to come alongside others in the same situation and offer hope. For Allison and for me, our circumstances and past shaped our core passions.

Determine Your Passion

“Your passion must be writing and speaking, Suzie!”

I love what I do, but if I were writing or speaking about municipal projects or real estate, I’d have zero enthusiasm. Writing and speaking are only vehicles that allow me to share my core passion. My passion is my belief system.

It is this message: God can redeem the stories of our lives, no matter what we’ve faced, or what we’ve been through.

This message plays out in everything I do. As a parent, I wanted to give my children safety, stability and a home filled with laughter. It became a vehicle for my passion. God redeemed my childhood as I learned what not to do, and how to raise three beautiful children with laughter and love.

This is the underlying message when I speak. It’s the core of my books and freelance writing, no matter the audience or topic. It’s not what I do, but who I am. If I had to walk away from writing or speaking tomorrow, I would still be a passionate woman of faith who trusts God to redeem the stories of our lives.

What is your core passion? What have the distractions taught you? How can you take those truths and live them out—no matter what you do? Answer this question and you’ll take a giant step toward pursuing your passion.

T. Suzanne Eller is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, family life and teen columnist and author, and has been featured on hundreds of radio and TV programs. She’s still in love with the guy of her dreams, and has three beautiful grown children and their spouses. Suzie lives in Tahlequah, Oklahoma where you’ll find her rafting down the Illinois River or hiking Sparrow Hawk bluffs.

Proverbs 31 Ministries is pleased to offer Suzie Eller’s book “The Woman I am Becoming: Embracing the Chase for Identity, Faith, and Destiny” in this issue of the magazine. Please see the back page for ordering information.

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