Saving Your Dreams from Martyrdom

My first job out of college was a sanitary engineering position.

Yep, I was a custodian.  There wasn’t anything else available, and believe me, I tried.  So there I was, wiping down urinals at the graduate offices of the University of Arkansas.   One morning, bright and early, as I was emptying a professor’s trash bin, he unexpectedly addressed me.

“GOOD MORRRR-NING,” the professor leaned forward and hollered, as if I were both hard of hearing and new to the English language.

“Good morning,” I replied.

The professor smiled and turned back to his work, clearly pleased with himself for stepping out of his comfort zone and speaking to the lowly janitor.

“I have a college degree, Doc,” I wanted to say.  “In English, no less.  There’s really no need to shout.”

But of course I held my tongue, quietly dusting the top of the copier, refilling the paper towel, and wheeling my squeaky cart into the hall.  The sad thing is that that professor will never know who he had in his office.  I could have been the next Eleanor Roosevelt or Sacajawea, the next Amelia Earhart or Mary Lou Retton, and certainly I am a valid human being with big thoughts and deep feelings, and much to offer the world.  He was the one who missed out, and what a shame.

So often since that day, I’ve passed a beggar in the streets and wondered what is inside that person, hibernating.  What kind of genius would, with just a little encouragement and hot coffee, come out of hiding and change the world?

And then I begin to wonder about myself.  Is there more in me than I give myself credit for?  Do I have a dream that is bigger than perfecting homemade bread?

Not that I would EVER look down on the homemaker.  Indeed I am a proud homemaker myself, and I do make darn good bread.  My husband is my first love, and my kids are my treasures, my four disciples.  There is no more important “job” than serving selflessly on the home front.  I get asked all the time by the female leadership in our organization how I am staying involved in the work we do.  I tell them, “I love and support one of the best men on the field, and I am raising four future laborers for the harvest.  I am plenty involved, I’d say.”

And yet, I think that some of us hide behind our highest calling.  Whether we are out in the trenches ourselves, or baking pound cake to encourage our husbands who are in the trenches, there is a temptation to think that a life of sacrifice is our lot, and that God does not also have plans for us purely for our enjoyment.  Our lives become one big martyrdom of sorts, and we press on out of principle, sure that we’ll be rewarded handsomely in Heaven.

Does not God love to see us smile?

So whatever your current status, whatever your job description, I would encourage you to look inside yourself and see whether there isn’t more in there.  I did.  Two years ago I met a published poet named Rachel, and the two of us became fast friends.  I shared with Rachel my lifelong dream of becoming a novelist.

“One day,” I told her.  “Once the kids are grown.”

Rachel urged me not to wait.  “Start now!” she said.  “Start today.  If you were born to write, then you had better write.

Wisely, I took Rachel’s advice, and now I have written my first novel (somebody pinch me).  It was in there, after all!  I just needed a little encouragement…and a LOT of hot coffee.

Am I saying that you aren’t worth enough as you are?  Am I saying you have to write a novel, or become the next Pioneer Woman, to feel like your life is full?  No way am I saying that.  Our identities as women, and our worth as people, come from God and God alone.  We all know that by now.  What I am saying is that the world needs you.  We need your ideas and your wit, your empathy and your art; we need your genius.  Keeping what is inside of you hidden away would be robbing us the joy of knowing you, and robbing God the joy of watching you smile.

And that, my sister, would truly be a shame.

What is one of your life-long dreams?

Photo Credit: (nz)dave via Compfight cc


  1. Liz K February 2, 2014

    1.  MICHIGAN?!?!  me too!!! How I miss The Mitten!!!  2.  yeah, I need to write too…but 3.  How does one figure out what to write?  I mean, really?

    1. Liz K February 2, 2014

      Oh, and I forgot to tell you my life long dream…to write a book 😉

  2. Kayla Rupp February 2, 2014

    Liz, I have three words for you.  Go for it!

    What to right?  You know those daydreams you have on long flights?  Those are books.  Just sayin.

  3. Kayla Rupp February 2, 2014

    Ha ha, I mean “write.”

    And I wrote a book??  Thank God for editors!

  4. Ashley M February 2, 2014

    So proud of you Kayla!! Can’t wait to read your novel! Will always be thankful for the joy of knowing you & your beautiful smile!! 🙂

  5. Karen February 2, 2014

    Thank you for sharing this article.  I can’t help but think about the story you used to start it out, about being the professor having missed out for not having conversed with you more.  I don’t know the situation, of course, but I can’t help but think of what you might have missed out on because you had not conversed more yourself (from what we know of).  I’ve been on both sides, both the janitor and the teacher, and although I understand both have work to do, I’ve also enjoyed good conversations from both positions.  Just to tie it into what you finished your article with: “What I am saying is that the world needs you.  We need your ideas and your wit, your empathy and your art; we need your genius.  Keeping what is inside of you hidden away would be robbing us the joy of knowing you, and robbing God the joy of watching you smile.”  I agree and think it applies to whatever position you find yourself in.

  6. Kayla Rupp February 2, 2014

    You’re totally right, Karen!  One of my colleagues in that job was a middle-aged autistic man with a priceless perspective.  He used to count the bricks on the building during our lunch break.  Another coworker,  a chain-smoker with frizzy gray hair, was supporting her kids and grandkids on her meager salary.  And let me tell you, her floors sparkled brighter than anybody else’s. They were treasures, every one.  If I hadn’t worked there, I would have missed out.  Thank you for the reminder.

  7. Cecily February 3, 2014

    Thanks, Kayla, for your article.  And what about the novel?  Is it on Amazon Kindle?  If so, I want to read it!

    I appreciate your article because it rings true with what I am walking through.  I am not a mother or a wife, but I am a nurturer.  But how often I belittle that in my mind, even though I love to nurture, and I see that people everywhere need to be nurtured.

    Sometimes I think that this is the call the Lord has on me on the field, at least for the moment.  Just nurture people, love people, make time for people, be kind to them, do them good, all of them!  Jesus said that people would see our good works and honor our Father in heaven.  So, I dare to think that this includes all the little good things.

    And, maybe what I am saying is the opposite of what you are saying.  Maybe you are encouraging people to go big, and that is good.  But it seems the Lord is encouraging me to go big by daring to look at the little things that make a big difference.  (Am I making ANY sense?!)

    1. Jennifer February 3, 2014


      To me there is nothing small at all in nurturing. The greatest thing that we can do is what God is putting into our hearts to do. It might be something people will look at and praise or it may be something which is not for the world to see. That does not make it small or insignificant. For me what seems most important is not what I am able to do but what I am prepared to allow God to do through me. Sometimes that might be a challenge to be prepared to do something I don’t think I can do in myself, often it is just the small things every day which make up our lives that sometimes can have an impact far beyond what we will ever know.

  8. Cecily February 4, 2014

    I agree with you, Jennifer.  The problem that I face is that supporters and supporting churches are looking for RESULTS and FRUIT.  But, as you say, we must be prepared for whatever God asks us to do, and sometimes what He asks us to do does not yield visible, instant fruit.  So, I must carry on each day seeking with all of my heart to follow the Lord’s instructions, and continue to trust Him to provide for my needs (as He has always done so faithfully) regardless of what people think or do in relationship to me.

    1. Jennifer February 4, 2014

      Reading this just now, I was immediately reminded of a time in my recent experience and how God used it and is using it (at least as I see it). I had a period of a few months where a lot of what I was doing was things which helped and supported a friend of mine and enabled her to do what she needed to do. I simply did what she needed. Much of it was just lots of  little things that no one ever saw outside of us and that did not matter. As time went on I did begin to use more of my skills (including some I had stopped using for different reasons… not that she or anyone knew that). At the time because she needed it and God began to enable me to do it. I know that time stretched and challenged me beyond anything else I have known, but despite some significant challenges which followed that time in our friendship (which remain), I can equally clearly see just how much God truly has now, 18 months later done in me, through what were in many ways lots of little things, that actually helped someone else do the great things they were doing at the time, but at the same time have I am increasingly beginning to recognize, done in me to prepare me for what God wants me to do. I do not regret the small things. I do not regret the challenge. I would still like to make things right with my friend.

  9. Cecily February 5, 2014

    I hear you, Jennifer.  To an extent, I am in that kind of situation now–looking for ways to help people with their work, to be a source of strength, encouragement and support for them.  I like this “role” because the Lord has made me a nurturer, and I know that I am learning and growing through the varied experiences as I invest my life in the lives of others rather than just focusing on my own “ministry” or whatever.  And what the Lord keeps saying to me is, “Wait for me to promote you.”

    I like what Joyce Meyer says:  “If we promote ourselves into something, then we will have to keep ourselves there.  But if the Lord promotes us, then He will be the One to sustain us in that place.”  (Those aren’t her exact words, but an approximation.)

  10. Kitchenaid Stand Mixer April 2, 2014

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