Being a Missionary
"Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart" - Psalm 37:4. When I was discerning missionary work, this was the verse that came to me six times and has really been a fulfilled promise to me this year. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be noticed and to be captivating – I would pretend I was a superstar or dress up as a ballerina and put on elaborate presentations for my family. I wanted to be a gift by the things or talents I possessed. But I had to realize that I was already a gift just by being me. Missionary work helped illuminate that desire to give and receive love and the call to be a gift to the world.
I think any kind of missionary work is beautiful and very fruitful, but it does get romanticized and isn't always rosy. Being a missionary is hard and uncomfortable. Rejection will come when you face hurting youth who aren't ready to hear the message we are spreading. Hard questions come and the constant need to prove myself keeps me accountable to strive for virtue always. However, it is also very freeing and comforting to have a team of other missionaries who are praying for me and keeping me accountable.
I know so many of the youth we speak to desire and hunger for love, I can sense the brokenness and loneliness. We only have experienced temporary love: people move, friends distance themselves, but we crave permanent love that endures beyond the feelings and the initial infatuation. I wish I could love even when others are rude and despicable to me, to love as a choice and love them more at their worst than their best is a personal struggle of mine. I want to give and allow myself to be emptied and endure all pain, but I also want to keep my self-preservation. I don’t want to sacrifice peace. I already have so little of it.
I want to belong, to have a home and embody a sense of family. I want to be given a new chance to experience true community, but I want it handed to me. I don’t want to be uncomfortable; I want to conceal my weaknesses. I am trying to build a friendship and sense of community and home with those who suffer, but I don’t know how to. I am learning to be part of a community and to be vulnerable. I am constantly in awe of the mercy my missionary team bestows on me. They are some of the most loving and compassionate people I have ever met and they teach me so much about myself.
Lessons about myself:
·Self-awareness and sensitivity: I am learning to be more sensitive to others and their needs and I am more sensitive to how my heart changes and responds. I am learning to read people and when is a good or bad time for them and how to be respectful of space and boundaries.
·Compromise and balance: I have learned to be more open to ideas, and to be less obvious about my emotions when people disagree with my opinions. I am trying to be real at all times, and I have learned to use emotion and reason together so that passion and wisdom can be harmonious in community living. I haven’t mastered it, but I am trying!
·My humanness: I have learned I have limits. Crying is okay. I need to love but not always submit – love is always a free choice. I think I need to come to terms with my humanness, my responsibility to be good and fair to my neighbour, and my own desire for gratitude and appreciation. I am slowly learning to love myself and embrace my flaws through surrendering and letting God work through my limitations.
·Courage: I can get enslaved to fear sometimes, but I spend prayer time asking God for freedom from worry and fear and He is answering this prayer in my heart, gently and lovingly each day. I realized my fears were limiting me from experiencing God's mercy and love. My fears and insecurities definitely came to surface in mission. But this mission also brought my capacity for love to the surface.
Joy: I am naturally a very cynical, woe is me kinda person (think Sadness from the kid's movie "Inside Out") but I am learning to experience joy even when things aren't perfect and circumstances are uncomfortable. I am learning to savour the little moments of love, kindness and jokes that come with encountering another person. I am learning to relish sunsets, laughter, reading and board games as joyful reminders of the goodness of life and my capacity to experience the riches of God's goodness.
Intentionality: This one is huge and is a work in progress! Being intentional when I encounter people and living in the duty of the moment has really served me well this year. Whole-heartedly attending to the task at hand whether it be laundry, dishes, doing a talk, or hanging out with a friend has taught me about the importance of being all-in when it comes to my life. I can't live a half life. If I want to be fully alive, I need to be present, awake, alive and alert!
Seeing others (youth and adults) encounter Jesus’ love and mercy is so incredible and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I want to continue to say yes to a life-giving relationship with Jesus. I really think my story will help bring healing to other young people who face brokenness. I want to encounter more youth through this mission so they can see that their brokenness can become beautiful because God loves them so much.
This mission is helping me grow into the woman I want to become. This mission is healing parts in me as much as it is healing the youth’s hearts. I want to journey with the mission so that the fruits and capacity for growth may continue. This mission is stretching my heart in a painful, beautiful way – I want to see where the rest of the mission year leads me and the rest of the team. Please say a little prayer for all missionaries please :)
For more information on the mission I serve at, check out our website: http://www.ocytoronto.org/ycm/index.html