Reflections on a First year on Mission
Editor’s note: Missioner Aubrey Kimble reflects on how lessons learned from her physical exercise relate also to mission and spirituality.
While organizing the living room in the volunteer house one day, I came across a Jillian Michaels yoga workout DVD. Since I’ve been determined to exercise more, I decided to try it. Now, I am so glad that I did, because I have fallen in love with it! Not only does Jillian Michaels push me to give my all in every workout, she is also very forthcoming with inspiration. After listening to her for a couple of weeks, I couldn’t help but notice some parallels between working out and mission. Here are a few of my favorites:
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
There are many tensions that come along with being a white Catholic American teaching English in rural Bolivia. It’s something that I think about all the time. Is teaching English acceptable, or am I (unintentionally) pushing my culture onto others? Am I truly living in solidarity with the students? Do my actions show the Christian values that I say I believe in? Living within these tensions and regularly reflecting on them has become my new “comfortable.”
Take the time to celebrate your accomplishments.
This is particularly difficult for me as I struggle with perfectionism. Perfectionism is a silent poison. It parades as a good quality—who doesn’t want to become the best version of themselves or do the best they can? However, it prevents you from ever being satisfied with who you are or what you’re doing. And that hurts. That’s why this little nugget of wisdom from Jillian means a lot to me. It’s a reminder to slow down and not only recognize exactly what I’m doing well, but to also celebrate it.
There’s no shame in starting as a beginner and working your way into it.
This is something I’ve been reflecting on since my new mission partner arrived this semester. I’ve been thinking about my first semester and how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown. Once again, Jillian is right. I don’t have to feel inadequate in my new position as English director, because everyone starts somewhere. I may not do things perfectly or get it right the first time, but I’m still learning. There is no shame in stretching yourself and trying something new. In fact, that’s pretty brave!
When it hurts, keep going. That’s when change happens.
This really hits home for me every time I hear it. On mission, there are many things that happen or that you witness that hurt you. At times it can be so painful that you want to go home. I’d be lying if I said that never crossed my mind. I always try to remember, though, that without suffering there would be no joy. And I believe that Jillian is right: when we stay and push through the challenging times, it helps us to grow in ways we never imagined. It’s hard to tell in the moment, but when we look back and reflect on how far we’ve come, we can see it more clearly.
Reflection Question: Sometimes spiritual wisdom comes from unexpected places. Spend some time thinking about an activity or part of your life that could be a source of spiritual growth and inspiration. What can you draw from it?