myMISSION Young Professional Blog

The Real Needs Around Me

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36 NIV).

The second I opened the door to my modest, safe sedan I knew it was gone. My purse. Not just any purse—my beautiful, brown leather tote that held, in a sense, my entire life. While I was disappointed my daily “goods” were gone—extra pens, a flash drive, and my planner—I felt vulnerable knowing all of my legal identification was gone. My license, passport, Social Security card, and even my journal were all stolen.

I was in the process of getting updated cards and forms this year, so I had all of my valuable, personal information tucked away in my favorite purse.

“You should contact your credit card companies, Social Security, and report your stolen passport,” the police said. “But nine times out of ten, the person who did this was just looking for cash. The thief has probably never seen a passport before and wouldn’t know what to do with any of that information.”

I’m Right in Front of You

We had ten beautiful minutes of uninterrupted, engaging discussion, but in a matter of fateful seconds, I had lost their hard-earned attention. Before I knew it, the entire classroom of 11th-grade students had smartphones in hand and their eyes glued to the tiny, glowing screens. In a matter of seconds, I changed from the interesting, insightful, wealth of knowledge (ok, maybe just slightly interesting!) to nothing short of the lifeless metal desk beside me. Those pocket-sized vortexes held my 16-year-old students captive—more than any book I had begged them to read.

Teaching is just one of the dozen areas of my life that have been thoroughly affected—for better or for worse—by technology. I’ve been engaged in a prayer meeting for the nations when my phone rings and disrupts everyone. I’ve been in a deep discussion with a younger woman when my professor emails me an important document.

Identity Crisis

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6–7).

During the summer of 2014, I walked the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand, with a campus ministry. As a very recent college graduate, I was worried about the next phase of a new post-graduate life. What was I doing in the middle of Thailand? Where would I be after this summer?

One of the challenges I faced was asking complete strangers if they knew the name of Jesus. I saw the statistics. I knew Thailand was considered unreached. But surely someone on the street would recognize His name!

Not one soul I asked knew about Jesus. Surprised by the anger welling inside me, I escaped to a coffee shop to pray. Why did I know Him, but they did not?

Upon my return to the United States, I delayed my entrance to graduate school. I felt confused and guilty. I felt selfish for pursuing a goal that didn’t immediately put me back on the missions field.

All We Need

Immediately after Jesus fed the five thousand, He dismissed the crowd, gathered His disciples, and found a solitary place to pray. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus prayed alone—and often. As the Son of God, He communed faithfully and intimately with His Father. He left His devoted disciples and the masses of broken people for prayer.

If Jesus, Who is God, humbled Himself and prayed, I should probably do the same.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a “works” kind of girl. I like being busy. I could write a book (a very long book) about the amount of times I’ve neglected rest and prayer in order to spend more time working, serving, or trying to meet others’ needs.

You see, I like to believe that God needs me. I tend to enter a cycle that starts with me saying something like, “I’m too important for a break!”

Then after a week or two, I burn out. I stop caring about all my jobs and roles. What I really want—and so desperately need—is someone else to carry the load. Deep down I know it’s Him, our good Father, Who can replenish my soul . . . but I’m too afraid to talk to Him. What if He’ll be angry with me? I failed again.

My myMISSION

Missions education has played an important role in my life since I was a young girl. I was a GA, an Acteen, and an Acteens leader.

Missions education is more than having a meeting periodically. It is also more than participating in missions projects. Missions education is a specific facet of discipleship.

In order for me to be most effective in my personal witness, I need the accountability of other people. Learning about what God is doing in remote parts of the world encourages me to look for what He is doing around me. Praying together for missionaries, people groups, and other believers is a powerful way to connect with God’s larger purpose. Giving our time, talents, and resources to support missions efforts in our church, nation, and world enables us to impact the kingdom of God as part of the body of Christ instead of trying to do it on our own.

As a young adult, it is hard for me to find a missions education environment that fits me. Often I don’t feel comfortable in the missions groups of older women.

Refocus Every Day

Has God ever had to refocus your life?

When I first got married I went through a period of massive insecurity. I was more concerned about my appearance than when we were dating. The more gentle and loving my husband was, the more terrible I felt. Every mistake I made bothered me twice as much, and every good thing I did only counted half as much. I had big dreams of being an “excellent wife.” I tried, but I couldn’t seem to get it right. I berated and belittled myself for not being good enough. I pleaded for God to show me what to do.

God didn’t turn me into the excellent wife I wanted to be.

Instead, He reminded me that my identity had not changed. I am still His daughter first of all. My situation had changed, but I hadn’t changed in the most fundamental way. I was so concerned with being a good wife that I took my eyes off my real goal. With the wrong goal in sight, nothing goes right.

Missions Focus

A few years ago I went to Sochi, Russia, with a diverse team of women to help a local church with a special celebration of International Women’s Day. Nearly 100 women gathered at the church for music, crafts, games, and food. We encouraged the women of the church with our testimonies of God’s goodness and shared God’s love with women who would not normally be in a church.

In some ways the experience reminded me of my days as an Acteen®. One summer we traveled to New Orleans for an Activators trip. One of our assignments at the Baptist Friendship House was helping with an event for women in need. The small number of women who attended participated in cake decorating classes and Bible study while we took care of their children.

Another Activators trip involved leading Vacation Bible School in Chicago. I remember Backyard Bible Clubs in college and other trips, experiences, and projects throughout my life.

Shining Through Summer Missions

Even though we strive to let our light shine throughout the year, the summer months provide unique opportunities to creatively bless others and share the gospel.

Sometimes summer missions involves reaching out to children in our community through Backyard Bible Clubs and Vacation Bible School. Sometimes it means traveling to another country to tackle a specific project to help a ministry spread the gospel.

I love summer at my church. From VBS to short-term trips, there are a variety of missions opportunities available for families and individuals of all ages.

I am most excited about a project our myMISSION group is doing—providing food for a staff appreciation event at Cedar Lake Lodge, a local facility for intellectually disabled adults.

Pause to Celebrate

Sometimes I miss my childhood days when everything seemed to stop for the summer.

For most working adults, jobs, chores, and responsibilities go on straight through summer with little to no change of pace.

Sigh.

OK, enough dreary thinking! The end of the church year is a time to celebrate! Our lives won’t stop for the summer, but we can pause and reflect on what we have learned this year as individuals and through our myMISSION groups.

This year, I can celebrate getting married and launching a new chapter in my professional life. I’ve grown closer to the Lord and developed a more consistent prayer life than I have had in the past. My husband and I have gotten involved in a new Sunday School class where we discuss deep spiritual truths and minister to each other and our community.

Breaking the Selfish Cycle

I am a selfish person.

I want things to happen the way I want them to happen and when I want them to happen.

And, if I may be so bold, you are a selfish person, too.

“Looking out for number one” is more than just a cultural phenomenon. Selfishness is rooted deeply in our fallen, sinful nature.

Even as a follower of Christ, I exhibit self-centered tendencies daily.

I struggle with this “Selfish Cycle”:

  1. I act selfishly.
  2. I realize I have been selfish and regret it.
  3. I put myself down for being selfish.
  4. I try to make up for being selfish by doing something good.
  5. I am proud of myself for the good things I have done.
  6. I realize that I am being prideful.
  7. Repeat from step 2.

Sound familiar?

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