It’s been a while since I’ve written. Shame on me, I know. I’ve said it before that I’m not one of those natural bloggers. It just doesn’t show up on my daily radar. And since I got back from traveling for all of July, life just got ridiculous. All of the yearly stickers that I need for my car were expired. I had a bajillion emails and a pile of regular mail that had to be sorted. And….oh yeah, I had to hit the ground running, before I was even over my severe jet lag, and start my support raising.
And it’s been encouraging. Because there are some day when raising thousands of dollars to go live in Japan and do missions and church planting just sounds crazy. But I haven’t had any one say it to my face yet. Everyone has been so supportive even if they can’t help financially. I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to simply not feel crazy because the people I meet with can see what I see; the vision for what I want to happen in my two years in Japan.
So August was full of emails, meetings, phone calls, more emails, driving, smoothies, granola bars, and not enough naps. But I felt so productive even if a bit overwhelmed. Go me! I only had a few melt downs and only one or two violent mood swings. Success! I’m currently just below 50% of my monthly needs. Woohoo!
And then I had to stop for a retreat/conference with my missions organization . And I felt like the timing was AWFUL. I was going to lose all this momentum just to hike it out to the boondocks of North Carolina where the cell phone service was spotty at best. I love to travel and I’ve never been to North Carolina but how was I going to do what needed to be done?!
But then I met up with one of my fellow missionary couples in the Charlotte airport. Amber and Tony are on their way to Nicaragua with their precious daughters. Check them out here at http://teamelswick.com/. I had forgotten how much I love spending time with other missionaries. We got into camp and I saw a lot of familiar faces and met some new ones. It was like a family reunion and, honestly, some of these people know me better than most of my extended family. That’s because you have to vulnerable. No one puts up with facades in this arena. And I’ve noticed that North Carolina is the state of rocking chairs; in the airport, at the bar, and every available porch. We would spend most evenings yelling over the crickets and cicadas (they are seriously loud) trying to tell stories and talk about the lectures from the day. And each day was like drinking from a fireman’s hose.
The whole week, we talked about things I don’t normally talk about; Things like surrender, humility, repentance, the Holy Spirit, prayer, loving others and loving God. But shouldn’t these be the conversations worth having? We also spent a lot of time in smaller groups. I was with 3 other young, single women en route to the field and and we laughed and cried more in a few days than I had in the past month.
It’s because I didn’t realized how stressed I was. I didn’t want to admit that I feel so inadequate for this task. I didn’t want to tell anyone about the fears gnawing on my heart. I didn’t want to show everyone that I have no idea what I’m doing. Simply put, I do not rest and so I’m emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. And when I’m exhausted, I can’t handle anything. It all becomes unbearable.
If you’re familiar with the Bible, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that it finally dawned on me that I’ve been Martha for all of August, and most of my life, instead of Mary. For those of you who are new to the analogy, there were two sisters that invited Jesus over for dinner. Martha was bustling about making food, attending to guests, cleaning, and whatever else one does for a dinner party in New Testament times. Mary, her sister, rather than helping with all of the logistical particulars, was simply sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him as he spoke and taught the other guests and His disciples. Martha was frustrated that Mary ignored the tasks that “needed” to be done in order to lolligag in the living room with Jesus. And yet Jesus praised Mary for her devotion. Please note that this is the biggest paraphrase of that story ever and it’s worth a read/reread.
Growing up, we were taught not to be a Martha. We should all be focused on Jesus and not the other stuff, yada yada yada. I’ve heard it a million times. But this week I had the breakthrough moment that I AM MARTHA!!!! I don’t even consider myself a very type A personality! I’m also completely disorganized physically and mentally. It’s pretty amazing how efficient I am considering the state of craziness in which I constantly seem to dwell. How did this happen?!?! How did I become so caught up in the work instead of the person for whom I am working?
Because it’s easier. Doing is so much easier than resting, than praying, than meditating on the Bible. I LOVE DOING! I’ll even show you how much I care for you by doing! It is far more likely for me to help you paint you house than bring over a bottle of wine for a house warming gift. I assure you that many people can attest to this fact. And for all of August, I was completely wrapped up in myself instead of God. But it seems that God was set on reminding me of my purpose and focus by shoving me out to North Carolina. I was able to spend a lot of time walking and hiking the paths of our retreat center. I got to take a nap in the hammock down by the lake. I even had time to get lost in the woods!
But even when completely turned around on the paths and covered in icky spider webs, I felt more calm then than I have in the last month. And it’s because I rested, refocused and re-centered. It’s very hard for me to rest. I seem to thrive on work and progress. But that’s not a life I want to live. I can’t find identity in my work because I will lose myself and drown in my failures to accomplish “the work”.
It’s such an easy thing to slip into. I know I’m not the only person who tends to find identity in work, but the moment you’re forced to rest, the question must be answered, “Who am I now?”
I think more people need to be shoved out to North Carolina to rest. I’ll gladly sign up now.