At the age of twenty-four, I founded a ministry to help rehabilitate girl child soldiers in a war-torn region of Uganda. It was a ton of hard work. I was young, full of idealism and naiveté and I didn’t know very much then about how to build a thriving culture. As people came alongside me in my vision, I became responsible not just for me, but for my team as well. This created layers of complexity I wasn’t quite sure how to navigate. More people meant more pressure, more consideration of other’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, decisions and disagreements. I had the
I haven’t been writing much lately. Life happened. I’d wanted to fall into summer’s sandy shores and slowed time with abandon. But mostly I got anxiety and tumult. I’m not a busyness lover, I’m a stillness lover. I always know I’m not doing well when the ink from my pen dries up. I hit a deep soul weariness that cratered larger than physical exhaustion. It wanted to swallow me whole. Last week, I hit a wall. A sense of being so done. Ever have one of those weeks where Murphy’s Law is excruciatingly apparent? Everything that can go wrong, does, all at the same time?
For years I have been fascinated by trauma and PTSD. Having experienced much of this myself, I’ve studied to help those in war torn regions and missionaries heal from their pain. What I’ve learned is trauma and PTSD can often be a silent killer among missionaries and aid workers. I teamed up with my strong and vibrant friend Jessika Tate, a fellow missionary, whose story of battling PTSD inspired me. There’s a fierceness and compassion in her eyes as she holds her coffee cup and shares her story at my kitchen table in Redding, California. You would never know she’s been through
What to do with all this longing? All of us are longing for something. We’re longing for a husband, we’re aching to have children, we’re aching for the ones we lost, we’re longing to be seen and known by our friends, to feel successful, we’re longing to feel like we’ve finally “made it.” (Whatever that means.) We’re longing for justice. There’s a man in Syria in an IDP camp who is longing to feed his family, who is longing for his homeland. When I think about him, my problems pale in comparison. He convicts me with his hope. But still. Pain
“Often the real trauma is feeling mistreated, bullied, or discriminated against by our own fellow humanitarians, those who should be there to share the same values and ideals.” –Alessandra Pigni- In general, conflict in relationships is one of the most difficult things to manage. This is especially true when serving overseas. Team conflict with other missionaries and missions’ agencies can be especially devastating. In my life coaching work, I hear stories all the time of heartache, frustration, and hopelessness surrounding these relationships. In fact, a 1997 study by the World Evangelical Alliance found that conflict with peers was the TOP preventable reason North American
I still remember crying on my way home as I drove my gray Toyota Hilux truck through the red dirt streets of Gulu, Uganda dodging cows, and children, and potholes. I sobbed my way through the whole story on the truck bed of our grassy compound while my husband listened. The sunflowers wilting in the late afternoon heat mirroring my heart. I had a volunteer who I’d deeply loved and spent time training who wanted to leave and start her own identical economic project, bringing some of our women with her. I felt it had come out of the blue and it was
“Why are we afraid of broken things? What if the abundance of communion is only found there in the brokenness of suffering–because suffering is where God lives? Suffering is where God gives the most healing intimacy.” -Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way- Sunset in Cape Town is like a world set on fire. The pinks and red hues dipped into the Atlantic Ocean in furious delight. The waves crashed loud and the marshy, sea salt spray filled my nostrils. Behind me, a rock called Lion’s Head because of the shape of it, and the way it drapes its mountainous body around
Recently, I went back home to visit my family in Virginia. There’s nothing quite like your family to bring out all your crazy. They know I love them to pieces, but for some reason when I’m around them I go into “fixing mode” nitpicking and criticizing about different behaviors and commenting on things that could be changed. (I’m sorry family!) Family is a pressure cooker that brings all your impurities to the surface. Maybe I’m trying to make up for months of not having as much influence in their lives because I don’t live close. Maybe I’m still working out this
This is part II of Why God Doesn’t Need Missionaries to be Martyrs. In the first part I talked about how God is not the author of our suffering. This doesn’t mean I believe suffering doesn’t have a role to play in our lives. I’ve written about how desperately we need a theology of suffering. But being a martyr as an act of devotion to God, and acting like a martyr because you think you have to, are two totally different things. Through my time living in Mozambique and Uganda, I learned as Christians and as missionaries we are called to enter into
I’ve been ruminating recently on the idea that there must be a secret that can get us through hard times. There must be a secret to healing along the way as we pick up wounds in our daily living so they don’t pile high inside us. I’ve been looking for ways beyond the obvious practices, the things we know we should do, that cause us to find peace, to see the face of God, to grow. I’ve been meditating on a phrase I read recently from The Artists Way: “Our quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity
Writer. Missionary Coach. Recovering perfectionist. I want you to know that you are loved and already good enough. I am about helping people move from brokenness into wholeness. Together, we'll make a more beautiful world.
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