by Shannon Brink
It’s been almost five years since we moved overseas.
Not much has gone as we expected. There have been such highs, and such lows, that it’s hard to articulate. We don’t know what the future holds. Are we coming back after this summer’s visit to our passport country, or will we call it quits?
There are so many questions ricocheting around my mind. Unsolved ruminations of what this was all about and what it was all for.
This has all been so much messier than I thought it would be. There is so much pressure to succeed, so much riding on our ‘success.’ People’s money, their tithes, their prayers, their sacrifices. Our children’s childhoods. Can we justify, can we explain, if the ‘mess’ is worth it? What if it’s not?
We need to explain ourselves on both sides of the ocean, be available and relatable to two different worlds and carry the needs of both. We need to justify when we take a break, when we aren’t doing what we thought we’d be doing, when there are disruptions.
We struggle with our own level of productivity, our own desires to be successful, our own fears of not being fruitful. We don’t see what is happening underneath it all, and we can’t even explain it to others sometimes because we don’t know what God is up to.
I haven’t met a single missionary who really understands the bigger picture. In fact, more often I meet others who thought they knew the roadmap and had to throw it all away. If God does anything through any of us, it’s an absolute miracle.
But I wonder if this time would have been different if there had been less pressure. And it hit me — I need more freedom. The freedom I profess to others, I need for myself. So for other missionaries out there, here is my prayer for you as it is my prayer for myself. A prayer of recognition, a prayer of release, a prayer of humility and brokenness:
Lord, I pray today for freedom.
I need the freedom to have it all far apart.
I need the freedom from it all making sense.
I need freedom from the fear of messing up my children’s lives.
Lord, give me freedom from the fear of financial ruin.
Free me from my need to make a difference.
I need freedom to be working through the same issues that I had before I arrived in this place.
I pray for freedom to doubt and wonder, to be mad about the losses, to long to be understood.
Freedom to realize that I’m not the super Christian I thought I was.
I need the freedom to still need grace.
I need the freedom to start language learning again, and again.
Freedom to try and fail at making myself known.
I want freedom to wish my story were different.
Oh God, I need freedom from my own unrealistic expectations.
Give me freedom to love and hate all the places I’ve been.
Lord, I need freedom in greater measures than yesterday.
Free me, God, in Christ, for your glory and fame.
Free us all, Lord.
We are an army in chains, marching wounded and terrified. We are struggling with our own fears, doubts, failures, and baggage.
We are rubbed raw and overwhelmed by pressures on ourselves and our own expectations.
We forget that we are the beggars. We are not the ‘have it all togethers.’ We do not need to be strong, we need to be forgiven.
We don’t need to prove our worth, we need to admit our brokenness. We don’t need to be fruitful, we need to be obedient.
You will get the glory then, when we admit that it’s all about you and not about us at all.
Free us, Lord.
Shannon Brink is a nurse, a mother of four, and a missionary in East Africa. She hails from the west coast of Canada, where her family is returning for a year long home assignment in June. After that, they’re not sure if they will continue overseas or not. Her first book, There’s a Dragon in my Pocket, is designed to help children process their anxiety and was written during the pandemic. Her next book, Waiting is the Night, is about the journey of waiting on God through her chronic struggle with insomnia. It will be released in May.