Have you ever reached a point in your life where you’re so stressed that you can’t function, can see the good in things, you’re frozen, turning in circles, looking for a way out? No?
I’d pretend that I haven’t either, but I’m so over pretending. When you’re in leadership, when you’re called and approved to do something like Missionary work there’s a perceived pressure, real or not, to have it all together. But I’m going to tell you a secret, it only gets harder. The further you pursue God’s plan for your life the more you’ll face obstacles. Its hard and painful and lonely, but it’s a whole heck of a lot better when you reach out to trusted people in your life and let them help you. Have you ever heard the story of Moses on the mountaintop holding his staff above his head, for as long as he held it they were successful in battle? Do you know what his friends did? They helped hold his arms up. Do you know what happened? They won the battle. Even something as light as a staff becomes heavy when you hold it out for a long time. (Exodus 17)
How often do we do this with our burdens, hold them out in front of us and refuse to ask for help? That is until we get so tired that not only can we not hold the burden anymore, but we crumple under the pressure. We become numb, tired, weak.
After I was approved as a Missionary Associate I had things to hold: a budget to raise, appointments to make, the constant questioning of my own abilities, my work schedule, my school schedule, my church schedule, my social schedule, and so they continued to pile on. Instead of setting something down or asking for help when it felt like I was carrying too many or carrying them wrong I continued to hold them in my stubbornness. I was constantly busy, tired, and stressed. I felt like I was spinning in circles and not getting anywhere because I couldn’t figure out where to start. I’d take a step forward but then get busy again, so I wasn’t really moving anywhere.
For three months I idled in the start position occasionally taking a step but not really getting anywhere. I didn’t even realize how exhausted and stressed I was until it felt like I couldn’t be anything else. I broke down and couldn’t pick myself back up. It was then that I realized what had happened. As I got busy I got less done, as I got less done I got more stressed, as I got more stressed I made myself busier to distract myself, and so the vicious cycle continued. I realized that I was living a life too stressed to be blessed rather than a life too blessed to be stressed. I was no longer seeing the blessings in my life because I was so preoccupied with how stressed I had become.
Pre-Field Orientation truly couldn’t have come at a better time because it was a time to reset, to learn, and to start afresh. I was reminded of why I am doing this, because I have a heart that yearns to see Europe experiencing the Gospel afresh. I made a decision that I wouldn’t become too stressed to be blessed again. Not that I wouldn’t become stressed because this is a stressful process, but that I wouldn’t become so engrossed in my stress that I couldn’t move or see the blessings in my life. That I would ask for help when I can’t hold my arms up any longer, and that I would actually let people help me.
I also realized that there are people out there who are struggling with the same things that I am. I am not alone simply because no one in my immediate friend group truly understands the struggles of being an MA. There are others, even those who have been at it a while, who struggle with the same insecurities, the same fears, and the same stressors, but they also look forward to some of the same opportunities for growth, the same sense of adventure, the same call in their lives that all may hear. In those shared fears and stresses and shared hopes and dreams there is a sense of community that we can hold one another arms up when they get tired.
“Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”