The moody missionary finds grace

I’ve got to be honest. I mean, I’m a missionary, for goodness sake. I’m so very glad to have the opportunity to live and work in Haiti. I am blessed, and I know it. But sometimes …. well, sometimes it’s hard.

I have to catch myself when one moment I’m so excited for the opportunities I have, and the next, I’m homesick or sad or frustrated. And when I catch myself feeling like this, I have to remember that this is all part of it.

It’s supposed to be difficult. If I am God-sent, it’s not a vacation. Even when it feels like a vacation with the blue skies and sticky humidity and palm trees and gorgeous sunsets.

This is work. This is God’s work. And all will come as it should.

Oh, I was warned about the phases. I soared through the honeymoon part (who doesn’t?), and I braced myself when the first inklings of culture shock shook me. That part came in waves, so I was a bit more ready when it hit the second and 10th and 40th times. Not so much for my Haitian friends, though, when my moods bounced like a high-rise elevator on steroids. Poor them.

I struggle with patience (need more) and control (ain’t got much).

I struggle with feeling sorry for myself in a place where everyone — and I mean EVERYONE has an earthquake story. What am I crying about??!!!

I had another relevation the other night when a close friend told his earthquake story to a small group of us. I’d heard it before, but not directly from him. He kept his composure, on the outside, but I saw the grief. The pain. The lingering effects of what surely must deliver post traumatic stress symptoms whether recognized or not.

It’s not about me, I think, when I’m in an emotional valley. I need to buck up. I need to get a grip. I need to get back to work.

But you know what? It IS about me. It’s about me because I’m the one who is here in my body, in my brain and heart and spirit. I’m the one feeling what I’m feeling, and I think that’s the way God wants it.

God wants me to know I’m being molded and formed better into His image and into a physical, spiritual, emotional and mental shape to better do the work He sent me to do.

It’s not just about job descriptions and team-building and partnering. It’s about ME being the ME God wants HERE. It’s about me reacting and moving and relating to my brothers and sisters all over the world — in a way that shows He has a better plan for EACH of us.

I know God shakes His head when I pull my stunts. He sent a missionary to Haiti with all her faults and failings and a more than a touch of ADD. When I’m distracted, He changes my plans and moved around in me and hears me weep and He says:

“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’” (Mark 16:15).

He didn’t say, “Be perfect.”

He didn’t say, “Make no mistakes.”

He didn’t say, “Pretend to be happy all the time.”

He said go and proclaim.

So I’ve come.

And the only way I can proclaim is to learn more about God’s grace and mercy every second.

And some of those best lessons, I’m finding, come when I’m fully spent and tired and frustrated.

Keep in mind that I have been more greatly affirmed for my willingness to take on this journey than at anytime in my life. And when I hear and feel and see others’ gratitude for my work, I am easily fooled in to thinking I’m the one making the difference. Again, I catch myself, and when emotions drop me to my knees, I am reminded that I am in as much — or even more — need of God’s care and grace than anyone. It is a grace that feeds me. It is a humility that restores me.

Yep, I’m that missionary that’s easily distracted, and God has a funny way of getting me back on track, and thank you, God, for your ways. I know I’m stubborn and that surrender doesn’t come easily. But it comes.

I might cry from time to time, but I know that:

“For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Psalm 30:5.

And that, God knows, is all I need to know right now.