At Women Doing Well, this is how we define passion: Something I believe in so strongly that I am willing to sacrifice for it. Passion is that heartbeat song that causes my heart to break from the pain others are suffering. And it causes my heart to soar like an eagle when obstacles are overcome and joy is restored.
History holds the many stories of thousands of women who transferred their pain into passion. One of those women is Josephine Butler, who lived from 1828 to 1906. The daughter of a wealthy landowner, she lived a comfortable yet stimulating life. Her father was an advocate for the poor who, uncharacteristically for a Victorian father, involved his daughters in political and social education. Although her background was a primer for her future passion, it was the tragic death of her 6-year-old daughter that catalyzed her sacrifice for others.
Josephine’s grief was so encompassing that she determined the only way to relieve it was to enter into others’ pain. After her daughter’s death, she and her husband moved to Liverpool to begin life anew. It was there she learned of the gut-wrenching conditions that forced women to live in prostitution. The laws of the time greatly favored men and punished women. As Josephine fought against this inequity, she was slandered and mistreated. Yet she was relentless until the laws were repealed.
She loved them and saw them as children of God.
Josephine was passionate for these women outcasts who were shunned by the rest of society. She loved them and saw them as children of God. Joseph Williamson, her biographer, recorded this quote from her journal, “Love to the fallen, the outcasts, even the madly sinful. Love to every human being however degraded who bears the impress of the Divine image.”
The Lord used Josephine’s pain to ignite a passion that created a movement to free women enslaved as prostitutes. Could it be that her story reveals a way to redeem my own pain? Could it be that, in God’s goodness, He wastes nothing in my life? Does He long to use those times that produce deep grief to ignite a spark that releases all that I have (my skills, my relationships and my resources) to invest in a cause greater than myself?
What is your passion? Perhaps the best way to start the discovery process is to remember those painful times in your life and ask the Lord to reveal how He might desire to redeem them.