Hey there, you. Yes, you with the big dreams and full schedule. Yes, you getting ready to embark on the greatest mission of your life. Can I have a minute? I know you have laundry to do, support letters to mail, and noses to wipe, but if I may?
First of all, let me assure you – you make it! Yep, you are a missionary. And have been for over a decade. So you can relax – everything does really come together and you really do get on the plane with your newborn, your two-year-old son, and your three-year-old daughter. Though, you must know, that ‘crazy’ label must be stuck with crazy glue because you will forever have someone somewhere thinking it. But you had that hunch, right?
So before you duct tape all your worldly possessions in plastic bins, and before go through all the security check points in a trans-continental journey that will leave you hoarse and would have cost you your sanity had you not already given that up months ago, let me just talk to you and tell you a few things. About yourself. About your life.
You are enough. You will feel like you don’t measure up and that all your efforts are in vain. You will feel the stares of people assessing every detail of your life. You will hear the hurtful comments and feel the sting of rejection, no matter how strong you think you are. You’ve got to grab that bottle of crazy glue and stick this truth to your heart of hearts: you are enough.
See beauty. Look at the leathery skin and see God’s goodness. Look at the aged eyes in young children and see God’s hope. Look at the families who hold so tight to each other and see God’s unconditional love. Don’t turn your eyes from the hurting, keep looking until you see God in them.
Change is the chain around your neck. The more you fight it the bigger it grows until you feel as though you are choking. Submit to change and that chain will shrink until it is as a fine, glistening, gold necklace reminding you of your confidence in the One leading you through these hills and valleys, calm pastures and angry rivers.
You will never regret the hundreds of hours and dollars invested in acquiring language fluency and cultural assimilation.
You will never regret learning to love the land your children know as their first home.
You will never regret the efforts to stay tight with your husband. Go on those dates. Take the trips. Celebrate. Be his biggest fan. Love big, often, and wholly.
Your greatest regrets will come from times when you backed away from human connection, when you prioritized doing over being, and when you forgot that the world is not black and white.
You know that 50 year plan you and your dear man worked out? Hang on to it. It will bring you many fun chuckles after about 3 years into this life that looks like trying to make it out alive while you teeter along on a broken sidewalk, in a never ending earthquake, during a hurricane, next to an active volcano, while being chased by a pack of R.O.U.S..
I give you permission to laugh at that corny Princess Bride reference. In fact, I give you permission to find the humor in tough moments and choose to laugh – rather than growl. Especially when you are on the side of a mountain, in a crowded bus, and the driver tells everyone to get over on the side away from the drop as he shoves another handful of coca leaves in his mouth to stay awake and… oh wait, I don’t want to give away the ending! It’s to die for! [another joke – laugh.]
Okay, you can get back to your scurrying around. Your enthusiasm is contagious! Infect as many as you can! Oh, and when they offer you that first plate of chuño? Be sure to have a napkin close by for quick, yet discreet, expulsion from your mouth. Yuck! Trust me.
Yourself… with grey hairs, creaking joints, and tons of fond memories from life on the mission field
– Angie Washington, missionary living in Bolivia, South America
How about you? What would you say to your former self, knowing what you do now?