14 May, 2015

How is your psychological health?

We surely don't know the road ahead, all we can do is look
behind and be thankful for what we've received.
Yesterday David and I drove over an hour for a ministry debrief with counsellor/psychologist couple.

It's a long way to go, 84 km (on the fast road). But this is who we were asked to see. All the missionaries from our state are supposed to, pity they aren't situated more centrally! Not long after we were married 17 years ago, we had to undergo a psych. assessment as a part of our application to OMF, they were the ones who did it. They told us we made them feel old, coming back 17 years later! 

Somehow we’ve managed to dodge a professional debrief during our first two home assignments. Interesting, because I think we probably could have used it, especially after our first term.

In any case we did it yesterday. It was intense, they asked hard questions. Questions like, “What is the most important thing you’ve learnt about yourself in the last 17 years?” Like really? How do I even start to answer that?

But what stood out to me was their curiosity. Yes, I get that they are professionals and they were digging to see if we had any serious issues that needed dealing with. I guess they mostly see people who aren’t in a good place, psychologically speaking. They were curious about how we’d managed to survive, perhaps even thrive for three terms in Japan, a mission field that is well known for its high attrition rate for missionaries.

So I ended up talking about a lot of the things I write about here (especially in the series I did back in 2012 answering questions for a friend’s bible college essay). They asked about our mental self-care. Saying no, setting up boundaries, knowing myself, knowing my limits, ensuring I’ve got support networks.

We also spent quite a bit of time talking about the stress of parenting. I think that that has to be up there vying with top spot for the most stressful thing in our lives over the last 16 years: parenting children while living and working in Japan.

Happy to say we seem to have a clean mental-health slate. They called us survivors.

It's easy to be proud of such a status, but I really feel thankful. God has given us good mental health (and physical health too), He's given us the abilities to cope with all the stress that's come our way. He's give us the resources to cope with this challenging lifestyle in a difficult environment. Nothing I have is something I can boast about, it is all a gift from God.
"For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not" (1 Corinthians 4:7, NIV)?

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