Honestly… (a grumpy missionary gets real)

I’d like to start off with a question: what do you think of when you hear the word “missionary”?  Someone in strange clothing who likes strange food?  (Yak cheese pizza is yummy, by the way.  So is fried eel.)  A fearless church planter going against the odds?  Someone comforting a dying person in the slums?  A jeans-clad, music-loving book-aholic who spends most days in a classroom in the U.S.A.?  The barista at the local Starbucks?
The answer to all of the above could be yes.  I think it is so easy to have a narrow view of what a “missionary” looks like.  So the following is an honest musing of what life looks and feels like to me, depending on the day.
Some days I really “feel” like a missionary.  Seeing the Himalayas at dawn and walking through groves of banana trees, feeling like the world truly is my “office”.  Watching kid goats skip around in a hill tribes village in Nepal.  Teaching the believers there and seeing God at work.
I also “feel” like a missionary when I stand in front of the School of the Bible classroom and teach.  It is a true privilege being a part of this school, and I love my fellow staff and our amazing students.  Teaching and watching as others see truth in a new light, or reading our students’ facebook status updates and seeing what they are learning from the homework we give them.  (Yes, dear students, I do indeed stalk your profiles from time to time.  *insert evil laugh here*)
But, honestly, I don’t “feel” like that every day.  Uploading things to our school site when the internet seems slower than the proverbial molasses in January doesn’t give me a buzz.  (Though I generally enjoy doing web stuff.)  Manning the reception desk at our K-12 school doesn’t always make my heart skip a beat with pure joy.
But guess what-I’m ok with that.  Yeah, I have my grumpy days, and my “why am I here and what in the world am I doing?” moments.  I suspect most people do, no matter what their profession or calling.  It’s called “reality”.
But honestly, it’s not about whether or not I “feel” like a missionary at any given moment of the day.  I know that God has called me to serve here-whether that service takes the form of teaching, or answering phones.  It isn’t about glamor.  A doctor may not “feel” excited about work every day, but he still goes in, does what he needs to do, and makes a difference in the lives of many.
Colossians 3:17  “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”  NASB (emphasis mine)
Whatever I do matters, when done in the Lord’s name, giving thanks to Him.  I’ve had many days where I didn’t “feel” like going in to man the front desk, but have then been able to encourage or pray with students and parents as they go in and out, or call with questions.  This is as valuable as standing up in front of class and teaching, even if it doesn’t sound as impressive or give me the same “buzz.”  Even when I’m tired or grumpy, it’s worth it.
So what is the point of this musing?  My point is that, honestly, life isn’t about whether or not you or I “feel” like we are doing the most vital task ever.  Acknowledge your emotions; they are part of how God designed us.  But they shouldn’t rule us, or be what we base our value or the value of our work on.  I don’t know where you are at, or what you are doing today.  I don’t know whether you are having the time of your life, or wanting to beat your head against the wall as you cry.
But I do know this: your value as a person, and the value of what you do in life, is not based on the emotions you experience.  You are valuable, whoever you are, wherever you are.  How do I know?  Isn’t it just about what we do in life?  About whether or not we are successful?  No, it’s not.  It never will be
You are valuable because you were created in His image by a God who loves you like crazy…a God who quite literally fights tooth and nail for you, went to hell and back for you, and is there for you every single day through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  A God who sings for joy with you in your triumphs, and cries with you when your heart is broken.
You can say, “yeah, she’s a missionary…easy for her to say that.  Even if she has to do a desk job sometimes she still gets to live in a nice little spiritual “happy place” all the time.”
Nope.  Honestly.  I have epilepsy, and while my seizures are under control, it is still something that affects my life every day.  Living with side effects got old years ago.  In the past, I’ve struggled with very real bouts of depression.  My life looks different than what I expected it would look like.  But that doesn’t change the facts that God is good, and that I am valuable to Him.  That carries me through if nothing else will.
How about you?  What does life look like for you right now, honestly?  Feel free to share (or use the contact form, if you prefer confidentiality), and know that I am praying for you, my readers.  I value the time you take to read my musings, and hope that these words will encourage you somehow.  You’re not alone.

4 thoughts on “Honestly… (a grumpy missionary gets real)

  1. Thanks for your honesty, Susie. Your post is timely – sometimes we let feelings dictate our lives, and life is not about how we feel. When I left YWAM 8 years ago, I honestly thought I would be back at my home church getting people excited about missions & leading short-term trips to exotic places. But that never happened. Instead, I would up at a fast-food joint for a couple of years & going back to school. During those years I certainly didn’t feel like the missionary that I know God called me to be. Despite those feelings, I knew for sure that I was in the right place at the right time. God was doing things in me and through me to reach the folks I worked with and lead me to a new church, which eventually led me to where I am today. Now I work a desk job. But I’m also following my dreams and doing exactly what I thought I would be doing when I moved home – getting people excited about missions both locally and globally. It’s not glamorous, and I don’t always feel like a missionary, but it’s not about feelings – it’s about being obedient to Jesus.

    • You’re welcome Denise. Thanks for the comment. It seems like life has so many surprises, and we rarely end up where we expect to be along the way. I’m glad God’s been leading you though, and glad that you know you’re where He wants you. Keep being faithful, my friend. 🙂

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