Write it out (Making life-choices on my blog).

Editor’s note: This post is about the decision making process I went through regarding the possibility of going on a long-term mission trip. However, I have decided NOT to go (you’ll read why) so don’t read the first line and then freak out. Thanks.

What I’m really worried about is that I wanted to go on an 11-month mission trip:

A. To prove to God how much of an amazing Christian I am.

B. To escape the extremely difficult work that is church building.

C. To leave behind all the things I think are stupid, such as: high rent, high car payments, and high student loans.

D. To seek out God’s presence because I don’t think it’s possible to feel it in a country as (relatively, compared-to-almost-every-other-country) rich as America.

To catch up everyone who isn’t my mom, my pastor or my spiritual mentor, I have been considering going on an 11-month mission trip that would take me to 11 countries.

And by considering, I mean, I applied and was accepted and have had about two weeks to decide.

Life choices are rough though man.

To get a few frequently asked questions out of the way:

1. No I would not get paid. Yes I would have to pay them.

2. $15,500 is the base cost of the trip, but I would also have to raise money to cover my health insurance and a couple other things while I was away.

3. The route would likely cover Europe, Asia, Africa and Central America.

All of that sounds incredibly amazing, doesn’t it?!

I seriously have a heart for mission work. Seriously. It’s tangible and awesome and you get to see the impact you’re having as soon as the paint dries on the house you helped fix. You get to live on cheap food, and be surrounded by the extreme presence of the Holy Spirit. You get to shower only when you’re lucky. And you get to grow really close to God. LOVE IT!

And, I keep thinking of the story in the Gospels where Jesus is asked by a man what is needed to enter the kingdom of God, and Jesus says that all he has to do is give up all his possessions, but the man just can’t bring himself to sacrifice so much, so he just walks away.

I don’t want to be that man, guys! I want to be able to walk away from everything for God. I want to be like the disciples who follow Jesus on the spot. Who walk away from their families and their jobs, but are blessed exponentially in the process.

And I’m not going to lie, there is a really big part of me that’s just downright, legitimately really, really, really scared about the idea of raising $15,500, going to 11 very poor countries and leaving behind everyone I love. And, if fear is what’s holding me back, then I should jump on the plane tomorrow.

But I’m also mostly really, really worried about A on that list up there.

It’s taken a long, hard look at myself to figure that out. I like to be the best at things I’m passionate about because I secretly never think I’m good enough and I desperately want validation.

For example: I don’t just write for the school newspaper, I’m editor-in-chief, dangit! I don’t just get a master’s degree, I get a master’s degree in 11 months and interview the governor in the process. I don’t just do youth work. I do youth work, and plan a mission trip and start new evening programming and give sermons! Huzzah!

So you see, I have this pattern. I want to give it my all all the time. And I think there’s a part of my soul that feels like giving my all to Christ means I have to literally leave everything I love and go around the world and do my very best to save everyone ever. Except, you know, that’s not right at all.

I mean, God knows I’m a good Christian. God knows that I want to give Him my all. And doing youth work ain’t nothing.

And, really just shut up Crystal brain! Even that’s not right.

God is just an endless bucket of grace so I should just stop trying to impress Him. I should just accept His love and stop striving to accomplish the impossible task of earning it.

Although I knew all that, it really, really hit me while I was looking through blog posts about (ironically?) the mission trip and stumbled on this site: http://nealmontgomery.wordpress.com/

Neal (I’m assuming “Neal” based on the url) has a post about the potential to turn Godly things into idols. And, there’s this line at the bottom of the post that hit my soul. Deep.

“He wants us to live solely for Him, and trust that nothing we can do will make us more worthy of His great love.”

And I realized that was exactly what I was striving to do — be more worthy by going on an extreme mission trip.

And I feel like maybe I have to walk away from an amazing trip around the world, so I can serve God — right here in boring suburbia. There is so much work to be done here. Hard work, like the the day-in, day-out grueling tasks that come with church building and youth mission trip planning and even just setting up and taking down and setting up and taking down and setting up and taking down chairs in the church pavilion 57 times an hour. Not to mention all the actual relationships I get to build.

Sure, there are a lot of (relatively, compared-to-almost-every-other-country) rich people here, and most of them don’t need me to supply rice and beans for them to eat, but they are also so hungry for spiritual food and tons of love that it’s kind of nuts. And I can serve them those things any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Just because we’re in a first-world country, doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done. Work that I can be called to.

So I’m going to say “no” to the trip and stick it out here for a little while longer. Maybe build a church or something, God willing. And then, if The Big Guy has it in His plans for me to do world-wide mission work, I’m sure He’ll figure something out later on.

For now though, I’ve come to realize that God has blessed me with a sincere chance to do His work right here.

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  1. I saw your comment on Rachel Held Evans blog, I guess I’m still subscribed to comments on that post. Anyways, it sounds like you’ve thought about this a lot. You should check out this book called “When Helping Hurts.” Its basically about Christians and missions and how sometimes our “helping” even with the best intentions can really hurt those we mean to help. plus lots more about christianity and missions. enjoy


  2. My church did a big thing this summer with the “When Helping Hurts” book as we looked at how we fight poverty and things as a church so that we don’t hurt the people we want to help. Good stuff.

    Powerful post, Crystal. Thanks for being vulnerable in a public way and sharing your heart and what the Lord is teaching you.

    That realization that we don’t have to strive to get God to like us/love us/favor us more I think is one of the common problems for Christians in America. Everything else in our society tells us we have to be these perfect people and the more we do, the more we’ll be rewarded. It’s so hard to turn off that voice of the marketplace and remember that God loved us before we did anything, good or bad and we can just rest in that.

    Your stories about how God is working in you and your youth group are great encouragement! Amen!

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