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I’m Scared, but That’s Good ~ Life:Unmasked

I dig around in my Swiss Army backpack, looking for his passport. I can’t find it. I have mine, but not his. Panic tightens in my chest as my son tugs on me, whining that he is hungry. I look at the clock. We need to grab a meal before our flight leaves. We have four hours, but if I can’t find his passport, it won’t matter.

Then the lights dim. I hear metal sliding and see a security guard sliding a huge metal gate across one of the terminal’s enormous corridors. They are shutting this part down. We can’t stay here, even if we didn’t need to eat. I ask a ticket agent about restaurants. She points down another corridor headed in the opposite direction. I take my son’s hand and start walking, thoughts racing. Where could the passport be? What are we going to do?

I wake up, heart pounding and head aching. It’s the second such dream in as many nights.

It is still fifteen days until I board a plane, passport in hand, and attempt to sleep my way through the thirteen-hour leg from New York to the Middle East. At this rate, I’ll be exhausted before I start. Maybe if I get my suitcase out of the attic and start packing it, the nightmares will stop.

I’m so scared.

It has been a difficult summer, with the church search, all my kids at home, a freelance business taking off, and my ongoing battle with depression. I’m functioning, but I gut through too many days by the skin of my teeth. Left to myself, I’d have spent this summer in bed.

Fear hisses doubts my way. How will I handle the jet lag? The language and culture barriers? The stories that start in incomprehensible desperate need? What if I get terribly sick? What if I let people down? The panic and racing heart of my dreams pursues my waking hours too.

Our brokenness is a window into God's workI’m weak and small. Broken. How can I do this?

My husband wrote me some words about this trip yesterday. I read them and cried. God knew I needed them.

Slowly, like dawn warming the horizon, I remember. This whole thing? It isn’t about me. It’s about God and what He is doing. I’ve been given a small part, and broken is exactly how I need to be.  I’m just a pot with cracks that give you a glimpse of how God is planting and cultivating hope in the desperately poor. Those cracks work the other way too, giving the people of Sri Lanka, both those in need and those serving, a glimpse of your love for them.

As my friend Alece wrote this week:

We can bring hope into places and hearts that gave up a long time ago.

Not because we feel guilty, but because we are compelled by the hope we ourselves have been given.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

How have you come to grips with your weakness? What tips can you share for overcoming jet lag and staying healthy in the third world? I played around my blog a bit last night – what do you think? (Big thanks to Gretchen for helping with the code!)


Life: unmasked buttonDid  you write a Life:Unmasked post this week? Link your post below (direct links to Life:Unmasked posts only – all others will be deleted). Please include a link back to this post in your post. Here’s the short link: http://wp.me/p2n5xv-z9

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  1. when i went to kibera a few years ago, a week before we left i had this unnerving pit in the center of my stomach that just wouldn’t go away. i was going to africa with twelve teenagers and we would be visiting one of the world’s largest slums and the pictures made my all-too comfortable existence waver. i fought the fear through the week, i bit my lip as i stepped on the plane, and every morning while we were in nairobi i’d pray to get out of going to the slum. but you know what? as soon as my feet hit that mud-mixed sewage, i felt at peace. centered. and at the end of the day, my husband always had to look for me and remind me it was time to go. i didn’t want to leave. it was the weirdest and most beautiful wrecking i ever experienced. praying for you, joy.

    • What you describe is very similar to how I respond when my kids have to be in the hospital. Ahead of time, I’m scared and sick in my stomach, but in those moments, God gives peace and mostly-clear thinking. Thank you for reminding me of that. I’m sure He will be there the same way this time.

  2. Me to, Joy. I am linking up with my life: unmasked. And I too used to suffer under Depression. G-d will hold you up, He will conquer through you. Sending my love your way, friend.

  3. joy, i am going to be praying for you everyday starting now. you are not alone.

    • Thank you Alece. It’s given me some peace to remember that this isn’t about me, though I’ll certainly have some experiences. Takes some of the pressure off. I really appreciate your prayers.

  4. I was also really touched by your husband’s amazing post – it’s so beautiful when love is so clearly seen like that. I was also really shocked to discover the extent of the criticism you received from this blog. I was like, can this really be true? Your blog is such a lifeline for me! It stops me from going insane and thinking I’m the only one!

    Anyway. How do i come to grips with my weakness? I usually try denying it, and then get to the stage where I can’t, and then I feel vulnerable and stupid and exposed. And then God meets me there. I’m praying that He’ll meet you there.

    The last time I went on a mission trip I freaked out for the first few days and found it so hard to adjust. and had a massive caffeine-withdrawal headache. I felt really puny, like I wasn’t doing anything at all. But it was all good.

    Re: staying healthy – grace before meals suddenly becomes much more meaningful, ‘Lord, PLEASE bless this food!’

    Praying for you as you prepare.

    • I’m planning to bring some of those Via instant coffee packets so I don’t get one of those caffeine headaches! And yes, I never thought about that, but praying over the meal will most definitely take on new meaning.

  5. Wow- this is exciting and scary and overwhelming and wonderful. I look forward to following your trip. You will be changed and while we all inherently dislike change, it will be a good thing.

  6. I like seeing your face up there!!!

    The best tip I can give for getting over jetlag is water…lots and lots of water. Drink through the whole flight and maybe even pop a benadryl or two. Getting as much rest as you can is essential for hitting the ground running!

    PS – I’m proud of you for sharing your fears. Your authenticity is inspiring!

  7. Rich Mullins “Hold me Jesus” has got me through many dark and scary moments. In my mind I have turned to God and said “I don’t understand what’s going on, but I trust you” I then put my hand in the hand of the Father, like a small child and we walk on together.

    As for jet lag we find that melatonin works well. A couple of nights with those before sleep and we adjust quite naturally.

    • Thank you for the suggestion, both of the song (I love that one!) and the melatonin. I’ll make sure I have some.

  8. I love that God uses us in our weakness! Love the new look as well. 🙂

  9. First, love the new header! You are beautiful inside and out.

    Second, I wonder if this unsettledness is exactly where you should be? God will be with you; He goes before you even now. I have no doubt of the hope you will bring to all you encounter in Sri Lanka, nor do I doubt the ways God will work in and through you. All you have to do is go: one step at a time. Praying for you.

  10. I love that you’re speaking this out – it’s such healthy truth. I would feel exactly the same way. Praying for you. xo

    (my jetlag tip is to take a melatonin when you get there – it resets your clock)

  11. Sharing is part of getting through things. Thank you for being will to share your heart. I will be praying for you as you head off on your journey. Rest in Him, He will be your Guide, your Strength…. all that you need! Reach out to Him! Thank you for linking up at Simply Helping Him! Blessings!

  12. I don’t have much to offer in the way of advice for avoiding sickness in the Third World, I’m sorry it’s been a rough summer for you and I know that’s not helping your anxiety. I pray God overwhelm you with how present He is with you in this trip.

  13. I pray God will opverwhelm you with how present He is in this trip.

  14. LOVE this new look, Joy. Great picture of you. I am praying for your whole team, as you prepare, as you travel and as you land and go to work. I pray for a mantle of love to descend on your heart, the kind of love you cannot explain in any way but to say, “God sent this.” Because love is the only effective remedy I know of for fear. You will be our hands and our eyes, Joy. And people there will see Jesus in you. Yes, they will. Go with God, friend.

  15. Joy, you will do awesome! The trip will be fantastic! I used to fly back and forth to England all the time when we lived there, and while jet lag can be exhausting, you do what you can do and sleep when you need to sleep. You will be absolutely fine! Besides, you’re not going over there alone – you’ll be surrounded by a team of folks taking care of each other.

  16. Coming to grips with my weaknesses is a daily thing. I don’t like it, but it keeps me more dependent on Jesus for everything. I do like that part.

    Praying for peace for your journey. Honestly, I would probably be too scared to even go, so I know Jesus is with you as you courageously lean into him.

  17. This. I needed just this today…

  18. You will be fine. Your jetlag to Asia may last nearly the whole week, but that is fine. You will be emotional and unbalanced, but then God can really get in your heart and accomplish things. You’ll be afraid and he’ll show you just how much he’s in control and loves you. You probably won’t get sick (rinse your teeth after brushing with bottled water to play it safe), but I’ll bet you’ll be filled with wonder which will keep you in a marvelous state of off-balance.

    You’ll be fine.

    Love you.


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