Updated: Jan 7, 2020
By Roselyn Ellington
God's Brave Women - Roselyn's Story
Every one of us meets failure, but none of us gets to choose the time and place.
It’s been over eight years, and it’s still hard not to be overcome by emotion when I reflect on the summer I worked for a missions organization.
In the spring of 2011, I was set to finally graduate from seminary. I had no idea what I wanted to do or where God was calling me. However, I felt ready, willing and excited to use my degree to impact the world for Jesus. As I walked around campus one afternoon, I saw an organization recruiting students for a summer missions program that sent leaders all over the nation. I thought, “This is it. This is my chance to do something big.” I filled out the application and went through the interview process. My assignment was to work with homeless people in Washington D.C. throughout the summer.
Going into the experience, I thought “How difficult could this be? I love God. I love people. I love to lead. I spent years studying for this. What could go wrong?” But I quickly realized that it was much harder than I thought it would be. The training was intense, and the information was overwhelming, but the last thing I was going to do was quit. I had to learn to live without the comforts that are usually taken for granted. I began to adapt to my environment and fall in love with the people. I couldn’t wait to see how God would change me and how I would grow.
My supervisor came to the ministry site a couple weeks into our program. We worked together that week, and she continued to train me, teaching me the ins and outs of my position. At the end of the week, she recommended that I take greater initiative and complete my tasks more efficiently. I left the conversation not feeling great, but hopeful and willing to adapt. I sensed that she was less hopeful, and perhaps skeptical of my abilities. She left, and I began another week of ministry.
At the end of that week, while I was at the laundromat, she called and requested I meet her at church right away. Leaving my clothes, we met together in a church office. She cited how I did not improve enough to meet her expectations, and then she let me go. I was told to pack my bags and leave without saying goodbye to anyone.
"Was this really happening? Was I being fired from a ministry job because I wasn’t good enough?"
Was this really happening? Was I being fired from a ministry job because I wasn’t good enough? I kept going through all of the scenarios and events from the past couple weeks. Did I commit a sin? Did I do or say something immoral? I couldn’t recall any significant wrongdoing, and yet, I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t meet her expectations. This was a position in which I expected to excel, but in the end, I failed.
The following days were a blur. I cried for days, replaying the last few weeks in my mind. Even though I couldn’t hide forever, I told no one and stayed at my parents’ house. What would I tell people? What would they think of me? Everyone expected me to be gone until August, but I was home in June. Here I was, a new seminary graduate, and my first official assignment was a complete failure.
Looking back, this experience caused me to doubt my abilities and my overall self-worth. To this day, I don’t have closure. The feelings of failure are still fresh in my mind. And yet, while I am scarred, my faith has been strengthened. And He has given me the courage to share my story with you.
This whole experience makes me think of Psalm 23. David says that “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” David was in a place at which nothing could shake his trust in God -- not even death itself. And how did he come to a place of such trust? Because God was with him. Even though I am no David, through this experience, God forced me to face my own fears of failure and insecurity. And in doing so, God has revealed to me that I, like David, have nothing to fear. And why? Because He is with me, and He is stronger than all of my fears and all my insecurities. That truth gives me peace.
"God has revealed to me that I, like David, have nothing to fear. And why? Because He is with me, and He is stronger than all of my fears and all my insecurities. That truth gives me peace."
Through all of this, I have learned that the gospel is less about my successes and more about God shaping me, through suffering, into the person He wants me to be. I started that summer worried about success and ended it in a place of peace. I started that summer confident in my own abilities and ended it confident that God is good no matter what. I started that summer fearing failure and ended it fearing God.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
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Roselyn Ellington lives in Granite City, IL with her husband, William, and three kids (all 3 and under!) named Nehemiah, Makari, and Kyrie, as well as two Golden-doodles named Boba and Blue. She works at Lewis and Clark Community College teaching classes and helping students who have disabilities transition into college. She also works as an adjunct instructor at Moody Bible Institute. She loves coffee, cooking, dancing and going on adventures with her family. Her dream job is to work as a barista at Starbucks. You can connect with Roselyn more via Facebook.