Decisions, guilt and doing the right thing…

by mendibpng

This week has been an emotional one for me personally because of a decision that we had to revisit.

The Plan seemed like a good one: Ben goes to the village for three weeks, while I stay at our regional center of Ukarumpa. The reason the family didn’t go with him this time mainly centered around difficulty in traveling. Being on jungle roads which are muddy and slippery for hours on end did not seem like a good option for the kids and I, so I volunteered to stay here in the comfort of our Ukarumpa home. Not only that, but Ben and his translators were making a push to get through Acts and if he didn’t have us there to distract him, they could make really good progress.

Having Ben away has been difficult, not because we have had any major things go wrong but it’s just regular life that can get exhausting. It’s the ‘normal’ happenings which require my attention and concentration and with five kids, it feels like I’m dealing with something all day long. I am tired and I miss my husband, who I rely on to help make the steady stream of decisions that rush at me throughout the day. With our pre-teen I’m making more emotional/mental decisions, whereas with the two year olds it is more physically demanding.

The original plan was for Ben to come home, stay for a week, and then go back to Wewak for 2 ½ weeks for a Dictionary workshop that our team had signed up for. We have three or four translators going from our project plus some literacy people in addition to Emil and Jessie who are advisors.

Last week I came down with a sinus infection and for various reasons had a couple of sleepless nights. I think it took something like this for me to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to cope with Ben going to the Dictionary workshop only a week after he returned from being gone for three weeks. Since he was away, my option was to e-mail him or Skype chat, so I chose chatting. It was a really hard conversation to have, but I knew that I needed Ben to be home or else I might have to be medevac’ed out of here. Although it was a bit of a shock at first, he agreed and arranged for the team to go without him.

On top of living cross culturally and dealing with hard things about living in community, if my sanity starts cracking, I won’t last long here…there are definite triggers and I know when the alarm bells are going off. So I’m following the advice of a good friend and doing the right thing and learning to live with a little guilt.

I won’t lie to you, I feel like the weakest link in the chain. For many of us missionary women, if we find that we need to STOP or CHANGE plans it is painful to admit, because we don’t want to be the reason that The Project isn’t moving forward. I feel enormous pressure from the people who fund our project. (ie supporting our national translators) What if they find out that it’s my fault that we aren’t progressing? What if I’m just being a big wimp and I really should be able to handle it? Since I have had these thoughts recently and I have heard them time and time again from my friends and colleagues, I thought I would put it out there so that you can pray for missionaries who are making these same kinds of choices. Yes, we are trusting God. Yes, we are doing so prayerfully. But we are still human and have to deal with a lot of human emotions when we have to say “enough” “I shouldn’t do this” or “I really need a break.” Thankfully the friends who I confided in this week affirmed the things I was saying (and so did Ben!) so the angst only lasted a few days.

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6 Comments to “Decisions, guilt and doing the right thing…”

  1. Mandy, you are doing great. Boundaries are hard to set for yourself, but you are trying to keep all those boundaries in check to protect yourself, your kids and your marriage. Keep it up! It also helps to have husbands who love us so much that they can do what they need to do too! Keep it up, you two!

    • thanks Crystal…it’s good to know we’re not alone in this whole world of making good choices even when it is hard. Hang in there as well…may God give you wisdom in the days to come when dealing with everything related to being a translation team. 🙂 love you!!!

  2. Beautiful, Mandy!

    As I was opening your post, I happened to be singing that Chris Tomlin version of Amazing Grace:

    “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior, has ransomed me. And like a flood, His mercy reigns. Unending love, amazing grace.”

    And I think if God can ransom and redeem the sin and degradation of the world (and if we don’t get that this week in the lead up to Easter…), what more will He do when we are loving Him and doing our best to be good stewards of the lives and families He’s given us?

    Years ago I read a translation of “My power is perfected in weakness” that goes like this: “My power shows up best in weak people.”

    I love that so much!

    We are weak, but He is strong. And His grace covers us.

    • Kay, thanks for your comment…I have that song running through my head now, a great one to start the day with! 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement you give me to do the right thing even when it is painful to do so!! I love that translation of God’s power showing up best in weak people.

  3. Mandy,
    I’m so encouraged by your writing and honesty in your posts. I often share your blog with my friend Melissa who is just beginning her journey as a missionary wife in Peru ( and you are encouraging her too!

    And I’m reminded of the verse in Psalm 127:2 –
    “It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
    eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

    I think of it because, I need to hear it so often myself. I need to be reminded that God can both accomplish His good work through me AND provide me with the rest I need. I need the reminder that a pattern of work and rest was His idea in the first place, so I shouldn’t feel guilty when I stop working. I need to be reminded that it doesn’t all depend on me, especially when I’m feeling guilty about taking care of myself so that I can care for those He’s given me. And its not an easy thing for a mother of 4 (or 5) to find rest!!!
    We’ve supported you for a long time and would never stop because you needed a rest or had to change plans. I’m so convinced God is working through you and your family, even beyond PNG! I’m so glad you decided to do the right thing and tell Ben you needed him. Blessings to you friend!

    • Paula, thanks for that comment and thanks for the encouragement! I have a book called “When I relax I feel guilty” I don’t think God intends for us to work ourselves to death but somehow we just keep plugging away until one day we realize that we need some margin. Thanks so much for sticking with us this whole time, we sure appreciate you guys!!

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