From Pride to Purpose

“There is a way that seems right to a man…”

From the time I was twelve, I had it all figured out.

The stars had aligned one day as I spun an antique globe around in my playroom, searching for lands unknown. Searching for where I would be called to go.

I lacked tact. As a child, my best friend and I would spend hours on the floor playing Barbies, ending every time with the sound of fighting words and little girl tears. Why?

Her Barbies went to the mall, shopped for clothes and took care of babies. My tribal Barbies sported hand-drawn tattoos and kidnapped Barbie babies as sacrifices to idol gods.

“Just tell them about Jesus,” I’d say, as she would cry when her babies were taken away by whooping and hollering indigenous people. “Then, they won’t sacrifice kids anymore. They’ll be nice.”

While my friends dreamed about the cute boy in shop class, my dreams were filled with the smoke of a thousand villages rising in the East. While my classmates dressed up as Abraham Lincoln and Clara Barton for history days, I came arraigned in a sari dress, telling the incredulous souls about Amy Carmichael’s time in India.

I knew nothing of cultural communication then. Nothing of colonialism, of indigenous church planting, of earning the right to tell the Gospel.

I only knew I had spun a globe one fateful day and found a single finger could travel the globe telling the good news of Jesus, and I wanted to breathe life into its spherical wood and travel along with it.

Everyone else knew it too. The church ladies whispered in the hallways, the visiting speakers spoke it to my soul, the credentialing officials confirmed it by their acceptance that yes, she has been called to travel the world and preach.

I was special. Anointed. Chosen.

Until I wasn’t.

We had filled out the papers to go overseas, teaching English, when we found the first double blue line forming from my early morning bathroom break.

We laughed and smiled as we told ourselves God knew better than us. We could have a family before traveling. A comma, not a period.

15 months later, we picked up a pen and a six month old to fill out the important paperwork again. It was time to fulfill our destiny.

And then it wasn’t. The line turned blue again. The morning sickness came, and this time brought with it a myriad of health issues and a doctor’s diagnosis.

“You won’t climb the mountains again. Not like this.”

I didn’t know how to answer THE question anymore.

“When will you leave for overseas?”

And there, in the silence between the imperative and the interrogative, I found I had asked the wrong question the whole time.

I was special. Anointed. Chosen.

Not because of my calling, but because of my Jesus.

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He didn’t ask me when I would leave, when I would get it together, when I would manage the mom life and the mission world.

He asked me when I would learn to be loved.

My finger, tracing the chubby, smooth cheek of a newborn instead of a worn-out globe, found love in the “be” instead of the “do” at last. And, here, in the familiar and the new, my pride gave way to purpose.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  ~Romans 8:14-15 (NIV)


Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Rachel Ellis
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  1. Becky Preston on September 5, 2018 at 7:37 AM

    I knew a woman who planned to go to the mission field. But first she married, and then had 6 kids. It was obvious to her that her mission field was where she was, and she learned to be content. The funny thing was that 3 of her children are in or were in active missions. Perhaps not an encouraging story for you, but you never know what God has in store…whether you go later in life or you are training future missionaries.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. DianeK on September 5, 2018 at 8:02 AM

    “found love in the “be” instead of the “do” at last. And, here, in the familiar and the new, my pride gave way to purpose.” Good grief, Rachel, I can weave that learning in and out of my life even though my ‘do’ wasn’t in foreign lands. Thanks so much for such a relevant post in this day and age when ‘doing’ takes such precedent over the ‘being.’

  3. Sarah Robinson on September 5, 2018 at 9:28 AM

    I was that other girl playing Barbie. It took me years too, to discover who I was in Christ, and how plentiful is the mission field just outside my front door, and sometimes, right inside of it.

  4. Jen on September 7, 2018 at 11:39 AM

    I wonder how many times throughout my life I’ve lamented the fact that I couldn’t “fulfill my purpose”, only to finally discover that maybe that wasn’t actually my purpose after all. If only I’d been quicker to listen to Him.

    What a splendid post, Rachel!

  5. Cole// Cole Smith Writes on September 9, 2018 at 7:55 AM

    When my Christian school curriculum told the story of Through Gates of Splendor, I had anxiety for a couple of years. I somehow got the idea that if I gave myself completely to His will, I’d get called to the mission field and speared!! Then as a high schooler, I loved geography and travel and languages and thought, “Let’s go!” But the answer has been, “Not now.” And I’m okay with that 🙂 Yours was an honest and touching post, Rachel! Thanks!

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