Just so you know

All right. I have ideas. I think about stuff. So here is the spot for stuff I'm thinking about and want to be able to share more broadly and possibly promote. Like I have time for this.

Everything is provisional at this point and subject to change in the future - as far as the blog is concerned. In real life some things will remain unchanged.

Also, our children are not really named Lenny and Linus. We are not that cool.

Feel free to share, rant, disagree, but please remember that I'm an actual person who tries to be respectful. I'd love it if you are and do to.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Some questions people ask when they find out I'm an MK (and the excruciatingly honest answers) Part 2

I'm eating rice crackers and chocolate covered raisins and drinking tea as a sorry substitute for lunch in hopes that I can get this blog post written and stop writing it over and over in my head.  Here goes.

The most common question people ask me when they find out that I grew up in the Philippines because my parents were missionaries there is "Did you like it?"  As I said before, the short answer is no.

Another question they frequently ask, even after I've answered the first one, is "Did/do you ever want to be a missionary yourself?"  And again, the short answer is no.  Not even a little bit.

Sometimes I feel guilty about this.  Missionary kids, after all, can make excellent missionaries.  Terms like "world view" and ideas like currency exchange and culture shock are old hat to us.  We know the jargon.  We may even have connections in our "home" country that will help us raise support.  We're sort of halfway through the door.  So I feel a little like I need to defend my decision.  Or at least explain it.

The first reason why not seems pretty obvious to  me, but I'll say it anyway.  I didn't have a great experience with cross cultural missions to begin with.  I do not like to pack, travel or say good-bye.  I'm not even very good at saying hello.  I associate Evangelical cross-cultural missions with a time in my life when I felt alone and deeply hurt.  I'm pretty sure that I will never be able to do enough therapy to get me to the place where I could put myself in that "system" again.  Certainly as a young adult I was not healthy enough to attempt it. 

Also, on the shallow side, I enjoy the creature comforts afforded by living in the United States.  Seriously, have you seen the road system here?  Used the infrastructure?  Gone grocery shopping?  People complain all the time about the hassles, but they really have no idea what the alternatives are.  Does your home have six foot high walls around the property?  I didn't think so.  Is it kind of a big deal when your power goes out?  Yeah.  I like that about life here.  People are kind of wimpy.

And I am extremely wimpy.  To the point that in college I was actually comforted by the fact that the mission boards I was familiar with at the time would not have accepted me even if I had wanted to go.  I started taking anti-depressants as a young adult.  That would have pretty much ruled me out.  Since then my health has crashed majorly and although I'm currently doing somewhat better I'm nowhere near healthy enough to pack up my family and move across the world.

Then I come to the question of my own faith, which I rarely discuss in casual conversation.  I got a link on Facebook recently to a survey that the school I went to in the Philippines created for former students.  Largely they seemed to be interested in how well they had done in preparing students for "ministry".  I responded pretty positively.  Because by every objective measure I can think of they did a good job.  The Evangelical missionary community around that school lived out what they believed.  They set aside many "controversial" issues in order to work together to maximum effect.  I was shocked by some of the differences when I came back here to the U.S.  I was exposed to a model of ministry that said "Jump in.  Do the important stuff."  It was sort of like a Nike commercial.

But at the end they wanted to know if I am involved in a ministry now.  And I said no.  I made a comment about how my health and caring for my small children prevent it, which is partly true.  Also, though, I struggle with my faith.  Over the years I have hungered to experience God.  Sometimes I have.  Other times, for long periods, I have persevered in spite of a lack of comforting or encouraging experiences in my spiritual life.  More recently I have started to examine some of the truths that I have taken for granted all my life and to think that they do not fit as snugly into the slot of "clearly defined" as I had assumed.  So I haven't had many times in my life where my faith has been one that felt strong enough to propel me across oceans and continents.

It's not that I'm opposed to other people going - although perhaps the reason I'm writing these posts is that I feel that those who do should be realistic about the costs. And it's not that I didn't feel "called."  I don't think that anyone needs a special invitation to serve God - even in radical ways.  But I did not and do not feel able.  And the bottom line is that I do not want to go.

My thoughts on why people become missionaries can be found here.

(In case you need a chuckle now that link in the last paragraph is to a Youtube video of Ron White talking about hunting.  In the first ten seconds or so he says that pretty much exactly - I don't want to go.  He makes it funny.  He can get a little raunchy and I didn't watch the rest of the video just now - seen it in the past though....just so you know.)

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