Confessions of a Missionary: I Can’t Handle Stress

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Most of us don’t let stressful situations affect our lives that much, but there are always days when the stress gets to you…today was one of those days for me.  Actually it all started yesterday when my Immigration Lawyer sent an email saying that there may be a problem with my application for a permanent residency visa.  The huge amount of emails, forwards, Facebook messages, and texts between myself and fellow Missionaries that followed only added to my anxiety so by late last evening I wished they sold pepto bismol in two liter bottles.

Stressful days (especially ones with many emotional ups and downs like my visa experience) can wreck more than our digestive system, they reveal what kind of people we truly are.

In the past high stress days revealed, “comfort zone John” to the world, who when things got rough would medicate the pain of that stress with things he enjoyed.  My favorite response consisted of baking a pound of french fries till they were crunchy,  then drinking the biggest bottle of Pepsi I could find, while watching dvd’s for three hours  (Editors Note:  the epic four hour Lost marathon of 2007 comes to mind).  It didn’t take long to realize this wasn’t a healthy way of dealing with stress, especially since I just felt lazy afterwards.

My comfort zone response was rejected in favor of “everything is fine John” who if someone was beating him with his own arm (after ripping it off his body) would respond, “Oh everything’s fine.”  For a while I was proud of this stress release because it kept me from burdening others with my own needs but eventually the Lord showed me that instead of thinking of others, this response was all about not showing any weakness whatsoever (pride).

When the stress hit this morning part of me wanted to go on a french fries and Pepsi run, while another started practicing saying the words “everything is fine” while my heart beat out of my chest.  Thankfully the Lord reminded me his Grace is truly sufficient for all of my needs, and my job was to simply obey him instead of fixing the problem.

So I did some visa research, wrote articles, sent emails to supporters, ran a few errands, and put together ESL lesson plans while a large part me just wanted to crawl in the bed and sleep all day (preferably with french fries and Pepsi).  About four-thirty the Lord seemed to show a way that my visa needs could be cared for, and at the same time some of my prayer supporters who had received a ministry update earlier that day had begun praying for that need specifically.  By 5:00 that pain that felt like elephant sitting on my chest only felt like a small horse, and an hour later my heart was filled with confidence God will work things out for good.

Life is never perfect…tomorrow morning I may get an email that starts the cycle of anxiety all over.  But I am grateful for today’s reminder that if we are faithful to the Lord He will bring peace to our hearts.

Published by

John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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