trusting . resting . following

Learning my Limits

March 1, 2016
I received great advice recently from a dear friend and retired missionary who used to live here.   She wrote,
PLEASE, remember to take a day for yourself.  That means you probably need to leave home and go somewhere and relax, read, meditate, think of other crazy things to do, etc.  Take care of yourself.  You don’t do anyone, including God, any good if you don’t take care of yourself so you avoid burn-out.  Once you slide down that hill it’s a long, hard climb back up.  Vacations are great but they aren’t enough – you need a day a week to stay healthy.  Remember, even God rested – not because he was tired, but to show us how ministry should be done.
(used by permission)
 And I'm learning, slowly but I do think I'm making progress.  

I remember when I first arrived, my team leaders and I were talking about not pushing to hard... that this life is a marathon not a sprint.  I remember saying, "Great... but what's too hard? I don't know what my limits are yet."

That was over seven years ago.  Nothing like experience to show me my limits.  Looking back, my first year here I sprinted.  Full-speed ahead.  I plunged into all that is involved in learning language and culture, as much as I could do.  My second year I started struggling a lot with my emotions, with my attitude.  I didn't even really recognize how much until my mission director got my attention in an email.  "You need to get away," she said,  "Now.  I will pay for your plane ticket.  Go."  I was humbled at her generosity.  Money was not my issue, it was feeling guilty at using my support money for my own sake.  I asked myself, "what's better?  Use my director's money that people gave for them or use my own that I've already been given.  I bought a ticket and left to visit another missionary family on the other side of Tanzania.  It was great. :-)

Since then I've swayed back and forth, some days pressing forward, some days holding back.  Some months full-on ministry, other months less ministry and more rest (vacations, hanging out with other missionaries.)

Last year I think I went through a season of "crawling", where I felt like I was just surviving, not hardly in a race of any kind.  And in the emotional state I was in, I'm not sure I could have done more.
 
This year I've been more intentional about setting a marathon pace, balancing work and rest.  Spending time with Tanzanian friends and fellow missionaries.  Village trips several days in the week, one morning a week to be "tied to the desk" to keep caught up on office work, play with and teach neighbor kids on Saturday mornings, piano lessons for missionary kids on Mondays.  Thursdays- rest (sleep, sew, experiment in the kitchen, watch movies, whatever I feel like doing).

There's still much to learn.  I don't always want to be in a "protect-myself" mode, but I also don't want to live in a constant state of stress and exhaustion.  I keep praying for wisdom to live with healthy habits so I can this marathon well.



Last month some friends and I spent 5 nights at a local hotel, resting.







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