About time for a new post, isn’t it?
The last couple of months, I’ve wanted and not wanted to write. I haven’t posted because, well, I guess I’ve tended to write about observations and conclusions that I’ve come to, things that I can build a narrative around. Things that are neat. I haven’t really had any nice epiphanies lately, but I’ll give you some snapshots of where I’m at and where I’ve been.
Nothing’s wrong, but nothing’s right
I am more grateful than ever for all I have here – my family, my friends, growing up here, my education, the opportunities I’ve had. And yet, November and I started (and continue) to feel a disquiet about being back home. I wondered whether perhaps God just didn’t make me (as a person) to stay here, He made me to leave, to go (but where?). My sister said maybe my disquiet is a prompting of the Spirit. It’s a slight but important difference.
This in turn led me to ask, to check, whether it’s just that I have a commitment issue. Yes, seriously. I started reflecting on how, even after an initial period of excitement of about four months in Gonzanamá, and then in Loja, a sense of despair would creep up on me. I think I’ve reached that point here.
Do I have a commitment problem? Is this a sign of immaturity?
I’ve answered “no” to both those suggestions, but in the process of thinking through how I’ve been feeling and my options for next year, this notion that I was a failure as a missionary has crossed my mind more than once, along with the frustration at having lots of random little skills but nothing particularly useful for the kind of work I want to do. Both of these things are lies – I know them to be untrue – but every now and then I stop and doubt.
So what’s the plan for next year?
I am always being asked this question. It’s because people are interested, they care. But it’s this constant question that I cannot answer which frustrates me, makes me feel like I should have had enough time to rest by now and I’m dragging the chain on “resuming” my life after the mission field. Another false way of thinking.
I drew up a mindmap:
Realised the only complicated thing is the CAREER aspect. I’ve never been interested in “pursuing a career” as such, but what I have always known and felt more keenly than ever since I came home is that I need my job to be meaningful in and of itself. It’s not enough that it’s me earning a living and so I can also use my extra money to help people, or that it’s an opportunity to witness, or that it “helps society” in some abstract sense. It’s not enough that it’s extending the Kingdom through evangelism and discipleship – that should be done regardless, and ministry to me needs to be more holistic. For me, serving people materially and socially is essential. That’s meaningful. I need to give of the grace that has been poured out so abundantly on me (1 Timothy 1:14).
But there is so much meaningful work to do out there that I have felt overwhelmed by the options. I’ve decided I need to keep praying and talking about it, and at the same time just sit down and pump out some applications for jobs that might be a good fit for me.
Maybe something’s wrong after all …
I am hungry for more ministry. I’m not really serving at the moment, and I think this is a key factor behind my feeling of dissatisfaction. I decided I wouldn’t let uncertainty about 2014 stop me from getting involved at church, and we’ve had conversations about where I can serve. But no action. I’ve been back five months already.
I’ve been having interesting, God-and-His-Word -centred conversations, I’m in a regular cell group and another one that’s a little less regular, I go to two different church services – one on Sunday mornings, the other on Sunday evenings – and hang out with people from church on other days. Yet I still feel that I am not getting enough Word or fellowship.
Sorry this is not a neat conclusion that ties up all the loose ends
So this is where I’m at. I know next year will bring some answers – and probably not a few questions as well.