Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Good Ol' Dose of Keepin' it Real

A pre-field photo, for old-times' sake

Let me begin by asking you to bear with me. Please hear my heart behind the words that are to follow, and know that this post is simply intended to be a means for you to get a glimpse into the current reality of my life here in Costa Rica.

The literal meaning behind the two words Costa Rica (Rich Coast) conjours images of tropical lushness, extensive beaches, and luxurious foods that tantalize the palate. Lest I negate the truth, Costa Rica does offer those very facets. And while we have taken the occasional weekend (for R&R) that allows us to indulge in those facets, our daily life is not centered around them.

Being called to something beyond what I ever expected is, in and of itself, an incredible blessing. I can certainly relate to King David when he said in 1 Chronicles 29:14: "But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you?" Paradoxically, I find myself in the middle of what I'll call hard. Now, I know that hard does not equal wrong. I also know that hard does not equal bad. Hard does, however tempt me to throw in the towel and head "home". And I do know, as well, that hard is real; hard is not easy; and hard does bring stress.

In pre-field training we were given a stress inventory entitled "The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale". On that scale, there are a number of events listed that have been identified as stressors. For each stressor the test-taker can list the number of times each event has been experienced in the past 12 months and multiply that number by the stress value assigned to the stressor. Once totaled, the sum of those stressors provides a number that assesses your current stress level. In training we were told that the average missionary falls between 600-900 points. Having just completed the assessment, I have found my stress level to be at 937. Severe stress is identified as having a point value of 300 or more. Hard, indeed!

I am not asking you to feel sorry for me. I am not asking you to understand. I am simply sharing the current reality of the life to which we've been called. Being in the middle of hard, is...well...hard. This endeavor is no vacation BUT it is good!

Ants in the Sugar Bowl
by Elizabeth Givens

"So send I you
To ants in the sugar bowl,
To things that fly, creep and crawl into the house,
To uncertain water, sporadic electricity.
To long hours, sweltering heat, exhausting days,
To uncomfortable vehicles, crowded jeeps, smelly buses.
To noisy, early mornings,
To rice, rice and more rice.
To poverty you didn't believe existed,
To masses of people like you have never seen,
To know and work with people who have never known comfort,
So send I you, and I expect you to adjust.

So send I you
To people who will give to you from their poverty,
To friends who will embarrass you with their generosity,
To pastors who will entertain you from their lack, with beauty,
To hungry, receptive, questioning people who want to know God,
To study, to teach, to learn from your study and teaching,
To prove your own motives, values and beliefs,
To learn about yourself and the culture that has reared you,
To know God and to understand more deeply dependence upon Him,
So send I you.

Are you going? I'll go with you all the way."

Yes, I find myself in the middle of hard. And hard is just where I'm supposed to be!


Anonymous said...

Jennie you are such a gift for me and many others I am sure. love claudia

Miranda said...

Love, love, LOVED this! Thanks for sharing! It's really comforting to know that others are sharing similar struggles, but to have a shared faith that God has a plan. Praying for y'all and your transition!

Carolyne Beers said...

Oh Jennie! You are such a blessing! I am so lucky to call you my friend! I love your honesty and openness! I pray for you daily! I will be praying that your daily hard gets a little easier to deal with every day! Stay strong and know that God is carrying you! I love you!


Carol K. said...

Phil 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

The world may say that such stress levels are unbearable, but with God carrying your load you can survive and thrive. Thanks for being real and giving me ways to pray for you and your family.

Kim Doherty said...

I couldn't have said this any better! You summed up exactly what I am feeling at this point in time! So encouraging that I am not alone and that hard can actually be good. :)

Imani said...

Jennie, I couldn't have written this any better myself. I relate in every single way. Thank you so much for being truthful! Like Miranda said.. it's so comforting to know others are going through the same thing, and that we can remind each other that God is in the midst of it ALL! Praying for you and the family! Months from now I can't wait until we all have praises for God bringing us through the transition.