It broke my heart, but looking back…I understand why it happened.
We were in Maine in our third year there as vocational missionaries, and our dream had finally come true: Our best friends were joining us with their brand new baby in tow! It took everything I had not to be over at her house every afternoon. I was just so excited to have my best friend living nearby, and especially glad to have someone around to talk to about all the challenges of living on mission so far from home, and without a church to support us. Finally, we weren’t alone. This was going to change everything.
Except, it didn’t. The loneliness I already felt, the isolation, and the painful distance from family still living in the south…she felt it double. A first time mother, she was experiencing all the biggest, most beautiful experiences of raising a new baby a thousand miles away from her own mother. It wore on her heart, and weighed on her mind. She called a little less. She stopped coming over. She was too busy to have me around. I didn’t see it at the time, mostly because my own feelings created a haze that kept me blind to what my sweet friend was enduring. It was heartbreaking for both of us when she finally told me the news…they were going home.
That announcement had a ripple affect in my life. We followed them a year later, leaving behind the families we’d worked so hard to minister to, and carried home with us a mountain of regret. But the winters were too long, and too lonely, the work too hard to do alone. It’s not our friend’s fault that we left our work in Maine, but it seemed to confirm what we already knew…ministry is hard, and meant to be done with a support system. The other thing I learned from that season in life is this: depression is real, and loneliness is like a death sentence to someone who is fighting depression. I know, because I discovered I was suffering from seasonal affective disorder, and postpartum depression just months before we decided to move south. I couldn’t find a Christian counselor anywhere who would help me work through the issues I was dealing with at the time, and it felt like going home was the only thing that would keep me alive. I couldn’t take another winter alone in Maine, no matter how beautiful it was.
A ministry like Restored & Renewed could have changed our whole story. What would have happened if we could have spoken with a counselor every week through video conferencing? What a blessing it would have been for me, for my friend, and for the families we were serving who needed marital counseling, too. Christian counseling is a lifesaving, marriage saving work, and now that we can have access to experienced counselors through technology anywhere there is an internet or cellular connection, we should be using this resource more often. Are you a missionary or minister who could have been helped if you’d had access to private, confidential counseling without having to leave your mission field? Help us show the church that a little R & R could save a family. Share this post, and your story with the hashtag #RandRmatters on your favorite social media. Together, we’re helping those who share the good news around the world.