Monday, February 09, 2009

Shellfishy Thoughts

This picture is hard to make out. It is one of those shellfish that you find on the edge of the surf on the beach. It is eating a moth.
But the point of the picture is that I was on the beach today. I have been down to the beach every Monday since I have been in Grahamstown and it is one of my biggest points of discipline. It might seem odd that going to the beach should be a discipline - but I find that I need that timeout so badly. And the thing is that I only realise after I 've been at the beach a while how much I needed it. I tend to get myself wound up with so much stuff that I need to do (usually my own deadlines and my own pressure) that I lose perspective. And I am fairly sure that I do not realise how much stress I am under because I am in such a completely new environment. Perhaps I will read this post in six months time and agree!
The beach forces me to unwind. After I've made myself get in the car and go. And then I must make myself stay - the inclination is to look at the sea and then head straight back to whatever needs doing. But after I've got out of the car and walked a bit - well, today I didn't want to leave. I am very grateful to God for giving me this way of dealing with stress! It's not the same in Joburg.

5 comments:

Thomas Scarborough said...

Hello Jenny, Wife M. is completing a doctorate on women in missions in Africa. Supposing you would fit that profile, which I think you might, your chances of burnout are about 100%. M. puts it down mainly to "the burden of the call", which is however in many cases ultimately transformed into new theology and renewed ministry. Rather than meaning to be desperately gloomy here, I mean to confirm your own ... early forebodings? I doubt that many people will understand the strain that ministry involves, if they are not insiders. I have a rule for me and our staff: you need as much restoration as you need, so get out of here until you have it. But then one needs to have a basis upon which one can be that "irresponsible" about it all. And that is another story.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Thomas - I've burnt out (mildly I suppose) a number of times. I've learnt to cope, so that I don't burn out! But this year is very new and I have to be very careful. Hopefully I will change the statistic to less than 100%. In a way, writing the blog keeps me accountable to all you people who read as well!

Thomas Scarborough said...

Oh, you're an old hand. Me, too. The doctor booked me off with burnout May last year (the various national crises placed extraordinary demands on ministry in our area). That, however, was small potatoes compared to ... (I'll tell that story some other time). ;-) Anyway, if you do burn out, we really look forward to all the interesting stuff on your blog. See, for example, http://christopherbennett.blogspot.com/

Steven Jones said...

Hi Jen

I can fully appreciate the love that you have for this particular stretch of beach, especially since i saw it for myself last Monday. It was well worth the 300km round trip from Uitenhage.

I can also understand some of the stresses that you are going through with your family being so far away. Some days my heart feels like it's being ripped in two. At the moment, though, you seem to be dealing with it a lot better than I am. I was a real snot towards Sipho this morning, and I feel really bad about it because none of what I am feeling at the moment is in any way his fault whatsoever.

I can't understand why seemingly small things are eating me up inside so much. The reality is that it's not actually much to do with EMMU or open-book exams - it's more to do with the fact that I am missing my family SO much, and the uncertainty of next year and beyond (which impacts on whether or not they can join me next year) is just ripping me apart.

Maybe that's why I've been doing so much crying of late. Please bear with me - there will be better days...

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Steven - I must say that I thought you were dealing with missing your family better than I was - it just shows how much each of us hides!
God is working with you - I can see it - I really can. You know about the refiner's fire? Well, you're in it. It's not going to be easy - but if you can stick it out and learn from it you will be glad that you did. But - I know God - if you start finding it easy too soon, try to see what you are missing!
We in the phase 1 college are walking with you.