Getting out of the hole you criedJuly 16, 2015
I’ve been reliably informed the main reason people ‘give-up’ on mission work and ‘return home’ is other missionaries. I’d like to be surprised by that, but sadly I’m not. We hold higher expectations for the people we believe are there to support us, those linked by profession, belief, or family. We share in their joys and sorrows, feel infected by both their highs and lows. When their support holds we soar higher and if it falls we fall even further, their criticisms cut deeper and their belief in our endeavours means more. When these people are the ones causing drama the tears are toxic and burn a seemly inescapable hole very quickly.
I’ve been in a few of these holes over the past few years, laying in a bed late at night with puffy eyes and a mind racing, muttering prayers full of anger and pain. I’ve learnt to climb out by going through 5 steps, and while painful, the more times I’ve followed the pattern the more at peace I’ve found myself.
1. Recognise you are not special. Yeah, I said it. I turned my back on so much of kids ministry in those 5 words. God made me special… but he made every being special too by that logic. We are just all normal, fallible, screwed up, human beings, we all need to be given a break and can’t expect anyone to walk on eggshells for us. No matter who screwed up – accept it.
2. Forgive yourself. You may think it’s the other people you need to forgive, and you do, but those tears probably mean this is a two sided thing. If you don’t forgive yourself then your find yourself scratching the whole situation back on your clean slate again and again and again. Forgiveness is cleansing, and while some situations need a good soak to get them clean it’s pointless soaking in dirty water.
3. Remove the toxic thing. Usually this is painful, and it’s the kind of pain that lasts today, tomorrow and for some time to come. It may be that you need to remove yourself from something that’s a spark point, something you really value, or even something very public. Often it will seem to outsiders a complete overreaction but staying will only create more drama. Having a season away from whatever is toxic may also help if you return.
4. Define your passions. Sometimes it’s worth staying for the fight because the very fight is your passion. Usually it’s not, we try and make it seem like it is but it isn’t. Defining our passions regularly stops us holding onto passions we once had, instead of passions we have now. Pour your energy and passion into something you were called to, not something you settled for or got dragged into.
5. Post plan your time. Hold yourself accountable, look at your goals and see if you are achieving something. Tick things off your list, even if it’s just showering that morning. Take the opportunity to fill any void with something new, something that empowers, uplifts, or builds you up. Be deliberate about it, some of my best has come from ‘filling voids’.
Normally I emerge from that toxic hole, dirty and exhausted from the climb, and wanting to crawl right back in.
In some ways it’s easy to play the victim, to have a drama, to pump the adrenalin of indignation. I’ve come to learn that even peering back into the mud can be dangerous. The further you walk on the more clearly you see the real issues no longer obscured by the personalities and drama. Peace does return, even if you can’t imagine it right now.