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Tackling Loneliness Post Ministry Part 3

Blog Loneliness Part 3: Reacclimation Loneliness and Isolation: Am I Speaking Gibberish? I step off the plane into the familiar, quaint airport in Jacksonville, FL. After a 36 hour trip I feel tired, dazed and disconnected from reality and myself. I am aware that my body is back in America, back “home”, but my heart, soul and spirit are still in Africa. Reverse culture shock hits me hard and I’m hyperaware of the transitional grief that has already begun.  My friend picks me up outside of baggage claim and the questions begin. “How was your trip? How are you feeling? You must be so glad to be back! What was your

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Boundary Setting

Blog BOUNDARIES IN MINISTYRY Boundaries and self-care in ministry are vitally important. The statistics for burn out, depression, fatigue, and suicide are on the rise for not only churchgoers but church leaders! Lifeway research shows that 23% of pastors report experiencing some type of mental illness and 12% have received a diagnosis of depression. And these are just the ones who were willing to report! There is still a high level of shame and guilt and fear around discussion mental illness and admitting to burn out and fatigue. Church Leadership research reports 54% of pastors are overworked; 43% are over stressed; 35% battle depression; 26% are overly fatigued; 9% are burnt-out;

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Tackling Loneliness on the Missions Field Part 2

On the Field Loneliness: Who are These People and Where is My Starbucks? Ok so phase one is complete (refer to Loneliness Part 1). You have supportive people, you are maintaining friendships and relationships with safe people. They are encouraging of you and your ministry. Now you are in your ministry country. You’ve had roadblocks along the way, that, by the grace of God, you have overcome.   However, now it’s hitting you. Homesickness creeps in and cuts you deep. The relationships you’ve built with locals are starting to feel like a chore. It takes twice as long to accomplish a simple task or plan anything due to language barriers. Your

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Tackling Loneliness Within the Missions Field Part 1

Intro Here you are, with this great and mighty call on your life, you’re doin it. You’ve stepped out in faith and you’re really doing it. You’re excited, anticipating how God is going to move in your life and those around you. You have high hopes for the people you will talk to and the souls God will save through your obedience.   Three weeks later…..reality sets in. Maybe its three days later, or maybe it’s three years later. At some point, whether in short or long-term missions work, there is a strong probability you will feel the unsettling sense of loneliness, of being isolated, misunderstood, disconnected, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, invisible. You

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STATISTICS

3.14 billion people in the world are unreached and have never heard the name of Jesus
___________________________
97% of the unreached people are located in the 10/40 window: 10 degrees latitude of the equator to 40 degrees north
___________________________
67% of all people from AD 30 to today have never heard the name of Jesus
___________________________
80% of missionaries burn out and don't finish their ministry
___________________________
46% of missionaries have been diagnosed with a psychological concern
___________________________
87% of those with a psychological concern are diagnosed with depression
___________________________
Missionaries are exposed to some of the most traumatic circumstances and difficult transitions
___________________________
Missionaries are faced with culture shock, fear, discomfort, loneliness, isolation, threats, high demands, unmet expectations, conflict, lack of finances, spiritual attacks, interpersonal stressors, and many more.
___________________________
They have limited access to medical and mental health services or adequate treatment.
___________________________
Many missionaries fear that if they talk about their hardships, stressors, depression, loneliness, etc, they will lose support and receive judgement from their donors, church, organization, friends, and family. They fear they will be pulled off the field or have their faith questioned.
___________________________
Strength International has worked with missionaries

-Ages 12-60

-Male and Female

-In Mexico, South Africa, Zambia, Cypress, Haiti, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zanzibar, Jacksonville, Chicago, Arizona, and Orlando

-Dealing with depression, confusion on calling, interpersonal conflict, marital issues, parenting struggles, loneliness, fear, grief, trauma, spiritual dryness, isolation, and many more. 

Tackling Loneliness Post Ministry Part 3

Blog

STATISTICS

3.14 billion people in the world are unreached and have never heard the name of Jesus
___________________________
97% of the unreached people are located in the 10/40 window: 10 degrees latitude of the equator to 40 degrees north
___________________________
67% of all people from AD 30 to today have never heard the name of Jesus
___________________________
80% of missionaries burn out and don't finish their ministry
___________________________
46% of missionaries have been diagnosed with a psychological concern
___________________________
87% of those with a psychological concern are diagnosed with depression
___________________________
Missionaries are exposed to some of the most traumatic circumstances and difficult transitions
___________________________
Missionaries are faced with culture shock, fear, discomfort, loneliness, isolation, threats, high demands, unmet expectations, conflict, lack of finances, spiritual attacks, interpersonal stressors, and many more.
___________________________
They have limited access to medical and mental health services or adequate treatment.
___________________________
Many missionaries fear that if they talk about their hardships, stressors, depression, loneliness, etc, they will lose support and receive judgement from their donors, church, organization, friends, and family. They fear they will be pulled off the field or have their faith questioned.
___________________________
Strength International has worked with missionaries

-Ages 12-60

-Male and Female

-In Mexico, South Africa, Zambia, Cypress, Haiti, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zanzibar, Jacksonville, Chicago, Arizona, and Orlando

-Dealing with depression, confusion on calling, interpersonal conflict, marital issues, parenting struggles, loneliness, fear, grief, trauma, spiritual dryness, isolation, and many more. 

Loneliness Part 3: Reacclimation Loneliness and Isolation: Am I Speaking Gibberish?

I step off the plane into the familiar, quaint airport in Jacksonville, FL. After a 36 hour trip I feel tired, dazed and disconnected from reality and myself. I am aware that my body is back in America, back “home”, but my heart, soul and spirit are still in Africa. Reverse culture shock hits me hard and I’m hyperaware of the transitional grief that has already begun. 

My friend picks me up outside of baggage claim and the questions begin. “How was your trip? How are you feeling? You must be so glad to be back! What was your favorite part? So much has happened since you left, I can’t wait to fill you in!” My already foggy brain is pulling up all the memories, trying to appropriately respond to the questions while simultaneously battling against sleep deprivation and heavy heartedness. As I do my best to emphasize the amazing testimonies, the miracles, the spiritual intensity, the overall peace, and fulfillment, I can tell I’ve lost my friend. She does her best to stay with the stories and acknowledge my excitement and experiences, but eventually I know she is going through the polite motions: head nodding, oohing and ahhing at the right times, etc. So I deflect and ask her how she has been. 

I know this won’t be the only conversation that leaves me feeling empty and isolated. It’s one of the most upsetting and yet understandable parts of reacclimating. My experience of the trip was a 10/10. My relationship with the Lord has never felt so pure, my confidence and sense of fulfillment so grounded in Him, the evidence of signs, wonder and miracles so tangible. Unless you are speaking to someone who has had a similar experience, those stories tend to go over the heads of friends and family members. Their faces go blank, their eyes glaze over, and they start to get fidgety. 

People will ask you about your trip, experience, or ministry. They are typically looking for the main bullet points: the overall ministry approach you took; top 2 “wow” experiences; and the overall results. Broken down this looks like describing if you were evangelizing, building schools or churches, working with kids, etc.; talking about the miraculous or faith increasing stories; and then concluding with statistics, i.e. number of salvations etc. Try practicing your “elevator speech”, keeping it neatly condensed. With closer friends and family start with the basics and then over time share more. If you try to explain every detail, all at once, you will most likely lose them.  

On the flip side, the missionary may also feel disconnected from the stories and experiences of friends and family. The first world problems and dramas you hear may feel unrelatable, irritating, or exaggerated. You may experience confusing feelings of anger or resentment, #firstworldproblems. Because of this discomfort, it can be tempting to isolate, to shut people out. 

Acknowledge your feelings and work to understand them. No feeling is inherently “bad” or “wrong”, it’s what you do or don’t do that can label it positive or negative. Work to adjust your perspective. Your friend who is complaining about her slow iphone doesn’t have the raw global outlook you have. The frustration of first world entitlement and privilege is bound to cause discomfort within your spirit. Now you have a few options on how to respond to this discomfort. 1) You could confront your friend and tell her that the starving youth in Africa would be ecstatic just to hold her iphone and try to teach her a little third world perspective. 2) You could decide that your friend is too shallow and unaware to be around and decide to isolate from her. 3) You choose to take the discomfort as a reflection of what God has taught you about gratitude and you extend Grace toward your friend. Grace, Forgiveness, and Understanding toward your friend will help you work through the anger and prevent resentment from developing. 

During this time of readjusting and confronting the challenging emotions that come up, it can be tempting to seclude yourself and become a hermit. Find balance. As you are acclimating, take time to engage in intentional self care and alone time. Journal about your memories from your missions work. Journal about the challenges you are experiencing connecting to others and the tough emotions. Get specific about triggers. Talk to God about your frustrations and ask for the gifts of Grace and Mercy. Reach out to a member of your ministry and debrief with them. 

It is okay to spend some time alone to help you adjust, however, it is also important to engage with your community. Connect with people who helped support your trip. Connect with your church community. Connect with friends and family. Remember your “elevator speech” and make sure to give them a platform to talk about how they have been. There is no need to try to do it all at once or overbook yourself. Pace yourself and proceed in baby steps. Give yourself grace as well and be patient with the process. 

Let me take a moment to acknowledge those who may have experienced trauma or spiritual abuse in their ministry. For you, isolation may look different and connecting with your church community may not be immediately appropriate or feel safe. Please address trauma specific coping mechanisms and the healing process with a therapist! 

Reacclimation can be an overwhelming, exhausting experience for everyone post ministry. It can feel like you’ve been hit by a freight train. Here at Strength International we can help you debrief and work through healthy processing, whether you are back permanently or temporarily, feel free to reach out! We will also walk with you through trauma informed healing practices if applicable. You are not alone!

 

Contact:

Haley Morris

831-905-2170

[email protected]

Contact:

Haley Morris

831-905-2170

[email protected]