On Recovering From Short Term Missions

Who takes care of the missionaries? What happens when they come home ruined?

I’ve always imagined deep down inside of me was this tall, cool, still glass of water on a table. It’s full and it’s very, very still. Things happen all around. I am up and I am down, there are good times and bad, questions and answers… but always the glass is still.

When my life all fell apart in Los Angeles two years ago my heart died. My dreams broke. But still the glass remained. Still and calm. While I roamed the country I could still see it deep down in there somehow- it was hard to reach, a struggle to find, but I knew it was there.

But what happens when you dump your cup out? What if you pour it all out for Jesus. For His people… and it stays empty?

In my experience with serving and missions and the developing world is that when you pour out you are also refilled. “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) And even though those experiences are difficult and trying- they often produce some kind of spiritual mountain top experience. It is good to serve the Lord and to be where He calls.

Or like my time in China. It was really, really hard and it felt like a waste- but still I felt God’s cover over me. When we were in danger I felt the Lords protection over my body and my mind. I had no effects of trauma at all, and in the end I felt like I learned a lot about leadership and submission.

But what about Haiti? I know God used me there. I have no doubts at all the peoples lives are different- better- because I was obedient to the call. I know God called me there and I know that I was supposed to go and I know that, on several occasions, God protected me from serious harm.

Usually when you go on a short term mission trip (anything under a year is considered short term) you come home, decompress, make some life changes (maybe) and keep moving. I am stuck. I’ve been back for months and I am still stuck. Not just, ‘I want to go back and I miss my friends’ stuck (though there is that, too) but I still feel like I just got beaten with a baseball bat stuck.

I feel like what I saw in Haiti- not one single experience, but it all as a whole- really confused my perception of God. Why do people have to suffer so so much? For the first time (maybe ever) I feel like I poured my cup out and it’s still empty. That tall, cool, still glass of water is parched and dry. The glass is cracked and dirty.

So who takes care of the strong ones? Who takes care of the missionaries? And what are we supposed to be doing with ourselves? I can’t just keep on living like nothing happened, but I don’t have the strength or the resources to really help or change anything. (I have ideas and half-formed plans to make changes in Haiti, but I don’t even know how to start.)

Note: I am generally opposed to really, like, ’emo’ or TMI type blog posts, and I hope this doesn’t come off as such. I feel like I am really struggling with some stuff and I really don’t intend for these questions to be rhetorical. Since my time in Haiti was so public, it seems fitting for the recovery to be, too. I can’t possibly be the only person home from the mission field wondering how God can allow such human suffering and I think it’s good for us to think about and talk about these things.

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One thought on “On Recovering From Short Term Missions

  1. Yep. I get it. I’m still trying to reconcile stuff from my 8 month stay in Africa. Such a crazy process. Stories are good – keep talking. Keep writing too cause you’re good at it.

    P.s. We need a ywam coffee date. Let’s make that happen.

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