It isn’t easy.
Leaving a place that I have known my entire life to dive into a new culture and learn a new language is bold - for me at least.
Sometimes when we hear about the life of a missionary, we think mostly positive things. We think about how great they are and how much fun they must be having being able to travel the world. We think about how they have the ability to share the Gospel with EVERY single person that they walk by on the street. We may even unintentionally put them on a pedestal because they have packed up their things and left their homes to spread the Good News.
We think glamorous.
While most of this is true, there are subjects that we don’t talk about. We don’t talk about their mental health or even times of depression. We don’t talk about their financial situations. We don’t talk about the frustrations, homesickness, culture shock, feelings of loneliness, and hard sacrifices that come with it. We don’t always realize the differences in cultures and why we can’t always just walk up to every person we see and talk about Jesus. Relationships have to be built and languages have to be learned - it takes time. We also don’t talk about what goes on in the heart of the missionary and why they don’t always feel like they’re close to God.
Sometimes we may even feel like we’re not doing enough. Sometimes our friendships slowly dwindle because of their high expectations and lack of understanding.
Some of these things are me, Diamond. And I am here to talk about the struggles that not everyone likes to put out there.
Since moving to Berlin in June, my life has consisted of some struggles, It has consisted of:
- Fighting to die to myself daily
- Feeling like I am helpless because of the language barrier.
- Fighting depression
- Feeling like more of a minority than I did when I was in America.
- Lost in Sunday service because I don’t understand what is being said
- Major Homesickness
- Questioning God asking Him why He thought that I was good enough to come here when I continuously mess up and fall short
- I feel like I can’t do anything right
- Feeling like I don’t belong anywhere because I have yet to speak German adequately.
The first person that comes to mind is Paul. Every Christian knows Paul - one of the most famous missionaries in the Bible. Everyone knows that man went through A LOT because of the love he had for Jesus and his determination to spread the Gospel. We know that he did amazing things through Christ and a lot of us know Jesus because of his faithfulness.
But we also know that he suffered and struggled - immensely.
"21 For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am torn between the two. I long to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that, because of my coming to you again, your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound.” Philippians 1:21-26
Wait a second…
Paul is a Christian, he’s supposed to always be happy and stress-free right? He’s a missionary, so why is he even feeling this way? Missionaries don’t struggle!
Well...Paul struggled. We all struggle. I struggle. Paul talked about those struggles. And he made those struggles known. He longed to die and be with Christ. Even though he had a desire to leave because he knew that it would be far better than to continue suffering, he also knew he had to remain in the flesh. He recognized that his staying on Earth would result in thousands rejoicing in Christ. He knew that for the sake of the Gospel he needed to stay so that others could experience the abounding love of Jesus.
This is why I know I need to stay. This is why I know I can make it. For the sake of the Gospel.
Yes, being a missionary is so fun and it is such a joy to be able to be a part of God’s work! It is amazing being able to live among the people in a completely different culture. I’m beyond thankful for the people that He has put in my life to send me, pray for me, and encourage me. It is important, though, to be honest about what really goes on so that we can have a greater understanding of how great our God is.
I'm here to tell you what my church back at home always says: It's is okay to not be okay. Being a Christian doesn’t make everything easier. Life doesn’t fall into place perfectly. Relationships don’t always work out. Financial situations don’t magically fall into place. Health and healing isn’t always going to happen. There's no need to pretend that you have it all together. I won’t always fit in, neither will I always understand. Being in Christ may not make everything easier, but it makes everything much more bearable because I know what and who the end goal is.