Sunday, February 3, 2013

Missing It

It's so easy to look back with rose-colored glasses, especially after weeks like this.

On weeks like this, I struggle with an anxious, negative mindset. I'm stressed and overwhelmed with everything that I'm supposed to do, and learn, and be. I'm afraid that I'll never meet the standard. Perhaps I am too much of a perfectionist, an overachiever, but I can't simply switch that off.

Occasionally, when I am especially sleep-deprived, I grow resentful of a system that teaches me the importance of a balanced, healthy lifestyle, and then loads me with so much to accomplish that the balanced, healthy lifestyle just doesn't seem to be an option. I feel something inside of me dying, although I can't quite put my finger on what it is. I feel guilty because I know how much some people would give to put themselves in my position. Yet the "spark" in me gets fainter.

Then at Friday night vespers, a student shares about her mission experience: "That year as a student missionary was the hardest, but also the happiest, of my life."

Yes. I can relate. But even while acknowledging that I had plenty of hard times in my student missionary experience, all my memories are filtered through those rose-colored glasses.

I miss it.

"[E]very woman in her heart of hearts longs for three things: to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to unveil beauty. That's what makes a woman come alive." John and Stasi Eldredge
In my 18 months as a student missionary, I felt like I had those three things, and it did make me feel alive.

I miss the sense of purpose and day-to-day adventure. I miss feeling that I am really making a difference. I miss being truly close to people who saw me at my worst and my craziest, and loved me anyway. I miss how much more simple and people-focused life was. I admit that I miss being told every day that I am beautiful :P

As I pondered how much I miss, God spoke to my heart.

"He made from one blood all nations who live on the earth. He set the times and the places where they should live." Acts 17:26 NLV

Just as God called me to South East Asia back then, He has called me to Collegedale, TN now.
If He could get me through the hard times back then, He can get me through the hard times now. If He gave me a sense of purpose, beauty, adventure and love in my life in Asia, surely He can give me those same things here in America.

Because the same God who called me to student missions is the same God who called me back to student life.

It's OK to look back with joy on times gone by, but I cannot let rose-tinted memories of the past rob me of what God wants for me in the present.

So I go back to my books.

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If anyone has any comments and advice about how you survived/are surviving your college years, how you find balance in life, and how you set priorities -- anything that could help me overcome my tendency to stress out -- I'd love to hear from you!



6 comments:

  1. Awww, Lynette, I wish I could give you a big, tight squeeze right now. *hugs* I'm praying for you! <3

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  2. Relate so well with this!! especially "I grow resentful of a system that teaches me the importance of a balanced, healthy lifestyle, and then loads me with so much to accomplish that the balanced, healthy lifestyle just doesn't seem to be an option."
    I've experienced that same frustration many times..

    Now at the end of my college experience I realize so well that the "loading on" goes beyond college and never stops, and that much as I have wanted to believe that I am superwoman who never meets a to-do list she can't conquer, that--well-- I'm just not. And, just as I did in college, I will have to pick and choose the things that are most important and let the rest go. Not an easy pill to swallow.

    Last semester, (my last semester in college) I just plain tried to do too much.. 20 credits, plus teaching a class, and I was already burned out from previous semesters where I had overloaded and from leading a hectic summer canvassing program.. It was dumb, and I wish that I had had the wisdom to choose less, but God doesn't waste experiences, and I learned a lot of valuable things about myself, about burnout, about overachieving and perfectionism.. I pass them on simply because what God teaches is worth being shared.

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  3. 1. "Set your affections on things above." "Martha, Martha you are busy and troubled about many things...Mary hath chosen the better part." Think about my to-do list in the light of heaven. What is going to be ultimately important when I look back? What will I wish I had done? Is it going to matter more whether I got 95% or above on my Lit test or whether I spent time encouraging a friend Saturday night when I would have been studying? I may not be able to fully devote my life to ministry while I'm in college, but I've got to make it a priority to do *something*-- it fills the need for the last two of your "three things." Having a part in a great adventure, and unveiling beauty.

    2. Weed out anything extra-curricular off my list that is feeding selfish motives ("Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory") In my case, being the incredible, wonderwoman cook behind the school's spiritual retreat wasn't worth it. It took all my free time, stressed me to the max, and kept me in the kitchen working until ungodly hours of the night. And people would rave about the food, tell me I was amazing, they couldn't believe how I managed to do it, etc.. and when I sorted it all out in exhaustion at the end I realized that I was doing it so I could pat myself on the back more than I was to serve. Interestingly, after coming to that realization, I was given another opportunity to again coordinate cooking for Spiritual Retreat. The second time I went into it from completely different motives, and it didn't matter to me whether people went away talking about all the fancy extras. I was able to delegate more to other capable people because I wasn't so concerned about having things done "just so", we served plenty of good simple food that made people happy, and I had time to sleep, study my Bible, get out in nature, and really be blessed by spiritual retreat myself..

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  4. 3. And the one that I always seem to forget and comes as an exhilarating surprise to me every time? (Like this last week!) Surrender. (Commit your way unto the Lord and your thoughts will be established..) Every time I get stressed and discouraged there seems to be a spiritual tug-of-war behind it. Obedience always brings peace even in the most hectic of schedules. Sean said it well this morning.. http://www.seannebblett.com/2013/02/this-is-no-mystery-born-to-fly-free.html

    4. The words of Jesus, "She hath done what she could." Sometimes I've done everything I can, but I'm dissatisfied because I feel like I should be able to do more. If I was only invincible, didn't need sleep, could do everything perfect.. But Jesus believes I have done my best, and that I've done everything I can, and He wants me to see myself as beautiful and capable as He sees me.

    5. You can only do what you can do. If more water gets poured into the fishbowl it will come pouring out. Once you've hit your max, something will give. Some of the most successful, motivated adults I know tell me that they got D's and C's in some classes when they just plain tried to do too much in one semester. It doesn't make them less successful or motivated people...they just had hit their max and couldn't do more. It's ok. :)

    6. The schedule doesn't always allow for following health laws, but don't throw them out because you can't do any of them (learned the hard way!!) Doing just a little bit of exercise, drinking just a little bit more water, and skipping a meal you don't need (or eating one you do!), can cut the stress in half. "God's eight-step burnout prevention program" Chad Kruezer calls it.. He says its imperative for anybody going into ministry to follow the health laws because ministry is typically a high-pressure demand work and Satan wants nothing more than to tempt those who are doing the greatest work to push themselves until they burnout and can't be useful anymore. The health laws are God's safeguard against that temptation. Still working on putting this one into practice.. ;)

    Mercy, ok, I guess my talker got tickled on a subject it liked! In the multitude of words there is evil, so I'll cut it short... blessings, sister! :)

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  5. Thanks, Beth, for your encouragement and advice. I'm glad someone else knows how I feel and can give me some guidance! And thank you, Rachel, for your prayers.

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  6. I really feel this. Thanks, Lynette, for sharing how you feel. I'm still figuring it out myself, though I do like Beth's advice.

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