Ruth E. Van Reken’s honest revelations in Letter’s Never Sent has me thinking about all the missionary newsletters I’ve written and read. Missionaries are a good group for emphasizing the positives and putting a good spin on the negatives. Newsletters just aren’t a safe place to share deep struggles, especially when many of the readers are current or potential donors.
I’m not saying that every newsletter should be filled with pain. I’m not even saying that every missionary has enough pain to fill a newsletter. What I am saying is that if the only things you know about missionaries come from newsletters, presentations, and answer-the-routine-questions conversations, then you don’t know the whole story. And what I am saying is that if you are a missionary who is hurting, you are not alone in what you’re going through.
In fact, if you’re any kind of cross-cultural worker or a Third Culture Kid or a trailing spouse or an expat or a repat or a soldier overseas or a family member left behind, and if, at one time or another, any of the following could serve as a heading for your next newsletter or blog or prayer update . . . believe me, you are not alone.
God has been silent for a long time.
This was a mistake.
I’ve changed, and I don’t like who I’ve become.
I feel betrayed.
I don’t care anymore.
I think I’m going crazy.
Where is my joy?
I wish I could die.
I feel like a failure.
I’m disappointed in myself, and I think God is, too.
I don’t belong.
Let me say it one more time: If this is where you’re at or where you’ve been, You are not alone.
And I hope you’re never, ever left to feel as if you are.
[photo: “Creativity,” by Mark van Laere, used under a Creative Commons license]
6 thoughts on “These Newsletters Aren’t Sent Either”
Appreciate the post! We have had lots of interaction with missionary friends. We’ve seen them deal with these kinds of things, and we’ve been able to be a vent for them. But now we are preparing to head out ourselves. And I am looking forward to writing newsletters.
Thanks for the comment. And thanks for being good listeners for your missionary friends. I hope you have friends who can be good listeners for you.
Wow, my husband I I just became missionaries and are working on our first newsletter. It is very true what you have written. Very good to read!
Thanks. Blessings on your new adventure. Here’s to many more newsletters to come.
This totally made me cry. We are missionaries, just about to complete our first year, but I am at a very low point right now. And you are so right — you just can’t share all of that with the folks “back home.” Thank you for this post, I needed to hear that I am not alone.
Laura, thanks for affirming this with your honest sharing. I hope that God surrounds you with his comfort. WE are not alone.