I’ve always been an overly responsible person. As a child, I used to help take care of my sisters, I had a steady babysitting job at the age of 11, and had donned a purple Burger King hat by the time I was 15. I was the good girl, the responsible girl and that’s where I received my praise and value. I’m not sure if any of my early jobs were completely legal, but work ethic and the idea that you need to be a responsible person who is beholden to other people is something that was bred in me.
“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart It was dry season in Africa, the sunflower heads wilting in the heat, thirsty for drops of rain. Somehow it felt strange to be celebrating Christmas in near 100 degree heat. We bought a miniature plastic tree and put it in the corner, but it looked kind of pitiful, like it was trying to pretend to be something it wasn’t. There were no
Trauma and loss happen to us all. Suffering is a part of life. But sometimes things occur and we don’t know or recognize it as trauma, or as something to be grieved. So we go on living, and eventually these traumas pile high inside us like dirty laundry and the burden begins to take its toll. The scary part about grief/trauma is that eventually it can escalate into cumulative grief which is built up grief after multiple losses which occur on a regular basis or within a short period of time. Think of a physical injury like a broken bone which is re-injured, making the pain more
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
You don’t have to sacrifice your spirit, your joy, your soul, your family, your marriage on the altar of your ministry. –Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect– I feel I’ve been learning lessons like this alongside Shauna these last four years. This book is wrecking me lately because it’s story I’ve been writing myself. Why God Doesn’t Need Missionaries to be Martyrs is a subject I’ve been wrestling through since I first went into missions over 10 years ago. I wrestled through it in Heidi Baker’s Iris school, I wrestled with it living in a difficult region of Uganda, and I’m confronted with it on
We’ve all been there. Our very first missions trip probably looked a lot like us taking a million selfies with African babies, or handing out soccer balls at an orphanage. Fifteen years ago, I was just as guilty. My first trip as a 19 year old resembled this and that makes me sad. But growth is about learning from our mistakes and parlaying that into positive change. In recent years, a parody Instagram account called Barbie Savior that started as a joke has gone viral. It depicts all the things that are wrong with “voluntourism” overseas. If you haven’t seen it,
One of the things we don’t talk about too often on the mission field is our bodies. Ok, we think about them all the time, like “Is Africa making me fat?” or “Do I have a tapeworm?” or “I wonder what kept me up on the toilet all night long.” But rarely as missionaries do we have a high value for taking care of our bodies because we’re too busy taking care of everyone else. Some people overseas seem to feel they earn gold stars based on how much abuse they’ve inflicted on their bodies to “sacrifice” for the cause. We say things
I had been living in Uganda for five years when I first started putting a self care plan in place. I was late to the draw, but even a little bit helped to ward off compassion fatigue and burnout. That particular morning, I’d decided to go into the office two hours later than normal so I could lie on my yoga mat and soak in the worship crooning from my computer. It was part of a practice I’d begun to clear my mind and hear from the Lord without having all the demands of so many faces and their interruptions crowding
In my coaching sessions with missionaries and global aid workers, one of the things I find increasingly common is that most of these brave souls are also non-profit or NGO founders, like I was, trying to manage an impossible list of tasks in a developing country. They are carrying the additional burden of running an organization, responding to a Board, raising finances, hiring and training staff, and dealing with emergencies and government corruption. If you’ve ever run a non-profit you understand the stress that can accompany carrying an organization on your own two shoulders. There are the vision and strategy
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.