Doing all three for Jesus.
This is the second part of a message given at the Thai that Binds Missionary Ladies Retreat. I have not changed much of the message, even though the original one was written for missionary ladies. Why? I am glad you asked! We all have stress, but not all stress is the same. Sometimes, I look at what triggers stress in my life, and then I listen to someone else complain about being stressed, and my thought is, “Seriously?! Are you kidding me?” Then there are those times I think the same thing about myself. Sigh. But that’s not really why I choose not to change much of the message. The reason is because regardless of the cause, the solution is the same! Read on and see!
Here in Thailand, survival stress is not our biggest problem (in my opinion), but it is still something we deal with. For me, this is everytime I am on the scooter. I do not like them at all! Do you have any stress of this type in your life? Your kids might. When people they don’t know reach out to pat their hands or try to hold them-this can stress your kids and cause their fight or flight instinct to kick in. I think serious illness might fall under this type of stress as well. How do you deal with these situations?
How to deal:
Speaking at this retreat—way out of my comfort zone, and could have been a huge stress had I let it. What about when you need to speak Thai—-in front of a fellow missionary? Or understand something someone says in Thai? Stress, right? What are your biggest internal stressors and how do you deal with them?
How to deal:
Culture shock—while it sounds bad, it is not always bad. When our pastor came to visit us, he had a good laugh at himself all because of a power strip. You know how they can be such a pain to get things to actually plung in! It is either too tight or too loose. He was a missionary in Ukraine and is actually on deputation right now to go to Armenia, and he said that outlets and power strips drove him crazy in Ukraine, but he forgot all about it until he used ours. That is just one example of culture shock and enviromental stress. What about being surrounded by those who worship idols? There is an oppressiveness here that we, maybe, do not necessarily see or can name, but it is here. This type of stress could also come from pollution (rice paddy burning), MSG, noise, heat….your enviroment in general.
What about you? Identify some enviromental stressors in your life.
How to deal:
Do I even need to explain this one? We all know what this looks like and feels like (even though it is not the same for everyone), and sometimes, it just cannot be helped. Such is life. But there are other times when, well, we simply need to just stop. I, actually, do not like to have a lot of activities, or things going on at one time. I have a natural tendency to crave slow, which can be both a good and bad thing. Maybe it comes from living with my grandparents while growing up. They did not take life at a fast pace at all. It means I say “no” pretty easily, but maybe too easily, too often. However, what I have learned about myself is that instead of overwhelming myself all at once, I will work consistently at this “slower pace” and for a long time. Then, I use my slower pace as a reason why I don’t, or can’t, take a break. Are you fatigued and overworked right now? Be honest!
How to deal:
I will end with this: My favorite Psalm is Psalm 23, and my favorite verse is verse 1, but verses 2 & 3 are such peaceful verses, that tell us God gives us rest—-and it fits all three categories.
Psalm 23:2-3 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures (physical—again, take a nap!): he leadeth me beside the still waters (mental-I am just following-I dont’ have to think about it, I’m not talking, I’m just resting as I walk) He restoreth my soul (spiritual-Through trials and tribulations, He is the one who restores us): he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Let me start off this way—this message is about actual rest. Physical, emotional or mental, and spiritual rest. It’s not about resting from sin; it’s more about taking a nap when you need it. It is also not about escape, because resting and escaping are not the same thing. And, hopefully, if you rest, you will not feel the need to escape.
Raise your hand if you have ever felt stressed? Most of us would gladly spend and be spent for Jesus and those we love, but sometimes that spending leads to stress. The thing is, though, stress is not always a bad thing. In fact, it is stress that can initiate our fight or flight instincts, which sometimes, is a very good thing! Stress can actually increase our productivity! Ever know somone who always put things off until the last minute? Well, they were correct when they said they seem to work better that way.
Because I know that missionaries living in a different culture, with a different language, different food, different thought processes, and a whole slew of other things, do not often realize they are stressed, I decided to do some reading on stress. I am sharing some of the information with you, but I want you to know, that we often have a combination of these in our life.
Survival Stress – This type of stress triggers the “fight or flight” response we feel when we are threatened with bodily harm or are in a dangerous situation.
Internal Stress – You know how some people (my hand is up) can imagine a worst case scenario in 5 seconds flat? Then, they just sit there and dwell on it? Or do you ever worry about things you have no control over? You were fine until you started worrying, but oh! you just had to start running every bad scenario through your head. This is internal stress, and it us usually self-inflicted. There are people who seem to love to be stressed, and are stressed about every. single. thing. They would be people with lots of internal stress.
Environmental Stress – This is stress as a response to noise, crowding, work, family, traffic, or enviroment.
Fatigue and Overwork – Usually, this is stress that starts as a small amount but gradually increases over time. This particular type of stress can be very damaging to your body. This stress can come from being a poor time manager, having a stressful job, going through a major change, or just not allowing time for rest.
(This is the site I found this particular break down of stress, but I read several articles and looked at many websites.) http://www.mtstcil.org/skills/stress-definition-1.html
Here’s the thing—we live stressful lives. The BTS during rush hour—for me a big stressor. Driving (here)—not such a big stressor. Yet, it was a big stress for me in America. The heat– big stressor for my husband. For me—not usually. Lots of things going on at once—I will lose my mind. For my son, AJ—the more, the better. Something else that causes me stress—walking past random offerings on the sidewalk. This will set my heart racing and I physically tense up. It is the craziest thing. And none of that includes ministry work, language learning, or all the various relationships we have.
I think we readily accept that we need to rest each day for our quiet time, but why do we consider that short time to be enough? Can you say with Paul in 2 Cor 4: 16 “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Yes, His mercies are new every morning, but are you stress free enough to receive those mercies? Too be honest, there are days when I am not.
We lift the apostle Paul up, and I think he is a great example, but do you realize he too got discouraged. 2 Cor 7:5 “For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.” 2 Cor 11:28 “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”
He needed encouragment! 2 Cor 7:6 “Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;”
We are no less human than Paul, though we might be less spiritual, so why do we think we shouldn’t need a rest? God commanded a day of rest for a reason. He also commanded feasts that would allow His people to rest. Every seventh year, the Israelites were commanded to give their land a rest as well. I don’t know about you, but there are days where a year long sabbatical sounds amazing!
Mark 6: 31 “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”
Jesus told his apostles to rest. (It doesn’t seem like they got to rest at this particular time, but that is another story.)
In the story of Jesus calming the storm, Jesus is asleep! Like I said at the begining, rest can be as simple as taking a nap when you need one! Psalm 127:2 “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.” Go to bed!!!!
But why rest? Well, have you ever considered that rest is as important to your missionary work as your actual works are? God intended rest as a way to help us focus on Him, to renew us for His work, to ensure we recognize we are not able to do it without Him. Rest is intended to bring Him glory. After all, it is His glory we are living for, because it is His mercy and His truth. (Psalm 115:1)
This is a good stopping point for this post. I am not a fan of reading long blogs, because, frankly, I do not have the time, so I will post the rest of it later this week. Does this build the anitcipation?!?! Just teasing.
But, seriously, take some time to consider the stress in your life, and try to put it into the above catergories. Then, take that list to the Lord and pray over it. Ask Him for wisdom and help. Then, come back and read the rest of the post.
Hi! My name is Rachael and I am a child of God. I was saved from sin and all its bondage at the age of 21.