Sunday, March 01, 2009


I am finding, in my away-from-home cross-cultural posting that I am getting very much more stressed than I realise. On Friday I was keeping a very tight hold on myself because I was so afraid that I was going to say or do something I would regret. Part of the problem is that the more stressed I am, the less well I sleep and then I get more stressed and so on . . .
I do occasionally take sleeping pills and they help. But I really don't like doing it. And even so, having drugged myself Friday night, I was on edge again today (Sunday).
So, what causes it?

Firstly, I never relax completely. That is something you do in familiar surroundings with familiar people. I don't have either! And the more stressed I get, the less I can let go.
Secondly. I have my life categorised into college, church work and time for myself. I have about enough time for all of them, but I am struggling to switch. Even when I am productively engaged (which is most of the time) I feel guilty because I am not doing other things that need doing. This is not logical, because I can only do one thing at a time, but nonetheless.
Thirdly. In church work I do not feel confident in what I am doing. I rely on people to interpret the language and the culture for me. My close working relationships are based on a culture I don't understand. I am afraid to step out for offending. Yet I feel that there are people who think that I am not doing enough. The latter is pretty standard for a minister, but on top of it all, it becomes a bit heavy. I wish that I could be given a specific role to play or area to manage or problem to solve, or anything as long as it is defined. I feel like I'm sweeping the sand on the beach!

Patience is not my strong point. I have learnt to slow down and take it easy and give other people a chance to catch up with me - back in Joburg. Here everything is half Joburg speed and I really wonder if I will be able to keep up at least a show of patience. I have to. It's pretty foundational to doing ministry here. But this morning I wasn't too sure if I could do it.

What saves me so far is my Monday day off and then two days of college. At college I quite simply focus on college stuff. The cultural hassles are less. And my bed is more comfortable!
But I also feel that if I was in circuit all week, I wouldn't be so frustrated at missing key meetings and I would have time to engage with the community and leaders more.

So, I am frustrated and quite on edge.
But I am writing this to mark a point on my journey, not to complain. God knows when I need him and he is there - no more than that, he's always there. He is letting me feel him and know him.
9 more months. Lord, please make this station meaningful and let the next use my areas of strength. College? Trust. Hope!


Thomas O. Scarborough said...

I had to drug myself after I read this post. ;-) It is the struggle between grace and works, on various levels.

Unknown said...

Hi Jen, The road to self discovery is an inner discovery between you and God and can only be settled with Him. The outside influences often get in between and I have found some of it is where God tests us. Hang in here and when stressed "change the inner subject" and re-focus on something else. Blessings.

Steven Jones said...

Hi Jen

I understand what you're going through. We had a congregational meeting this past Sunday, which didn't exactly have the desired outcome (I'll give you the gory details after the Sacraments Exam tommorow). Lord, give me patience, and please hurry!

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Guys - thank you for your support and encouragement. Life has ups and downs!
Herman - changing the inner subject at the moment is like using your visa to pay off your mastercard! But, yes, God is in there somewhere.

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

You Methodists are so full of bright ideas. Now Visa and Mastercard!