I sat in the dentist chair waiting for the dentist to come chat with me about the jaw pain that I’ve been experiencing recently.
The past 3 months or so have been an excruciating mix of headaches, jaw pain, tenderness in my head, ear infections and just plain feeling awful. I felt stuck in rounds of pain medicine, doctors’ appointments, heating pads, naps and pity parties.
I was really hoping that this dentist was going to be able to help me find answers. If not, I was quickly reaching the point of crying big crocodile tears right in her office. As we started talking, she asked if I was under a lot of stress.
Are we under a lot of stress??? Drama, decisions, fears, dangers, struggles… all of it stressful. Parenting, marriage, and work in overseas contexts. Transition, moving, paperwork and fundraising.
With sticky goop on my face from the impressions she took of my lower jaw, I answered, “Yes, we are under a lot of stress. We are about to move back overseas so I don’t see the stress ending any time soon.”
You all know exactly what I’m talking about. All I have to do is browse back through the posts that I’ve written here on Velvet Ashes, posts that cover our first term, to see that the journey has not been easy. In reading your comments, I know that I’m not alone in the difficulty of the task.
Statistically, overseas workers carry enough stress that it puts them in serious danger zones for health concerns within a short amount of time. Stress negatively impacts us in ways we can’t begin to understand until blood pressure goes up, jaw pain starts or other crazy symptoms appear in our lives.
In all of its awesomeness, this overseas life can be quite challenging.
How on earth do we find the renewal we need to keep going?
How do we walk this journey without bending under the pressure of it all?
How can we, as women working overseas, keep going?
I don’t know that I have some magical, wonderful, amazing answer for you.
The answer that I’ve found is honest, raw and real, something that I need to remind myself of often.
Only in small, simple, easy ways of daily allowing our heart and mind to be renewed can we sustain the pressure of this life.
Simple ways of renewal that quietly, slowly draw us to Jesus and keep us connected to Him.
Here are a few simple ways that I’ve found to renew:
Seek Him. Search for Him. He promises that we will find Him and He will meet with us.
Pray. Short cries for help, long pleas for wisdom, precious words of praise. They are all music to His ears and refreshing for our souls.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Prov. 3:5-6
Savor this moment. Really choose to savor in sweet ways the season you are in.
Find joy. Laugh and love in big ways during the most challenging situations. Capture the joy in today.
Take time away. Hide in the pantry, sit on the porch, turn on the air conditioning in your vehicle. You can find time away. Even five minutes alone to breathe and pray will help you through your day.
Silence. Turn it all off. The notifications, the timers, the noise, the music. Let the quiet surround you and His peace fill you.
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Is. 40:31
Look up. Truly, lift your head. Look up and away from your phone, your struggle, the piles of laundry, the moving boxes, the paperwork piled high. Look up.
Look around. Take in the life happening on the street outside your home. Look out the window as you drive. Look people in the face and smile. Look at the birds in the trees and the flowers along the walk. See what God is doing in the world around you.
Read. A few verses from Psalms, a chapter from your favorite book, a poem. Keep a book close.
Write. Use a journal and pour out your thoughts, lists and challenges. Somehow it makes more sense that way.
Connect with those around you. Find creative ways to connect with others, especially to friends who encourage your heart in godly ways.
Beautiful, simple ways to find renewal in the midst of our lives overseas.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lam. 3:22-23
I went back later that same day to pick up my bite splint. There it sat on the receptionist’s desk. A pink case with a yellow sticky note with my name written on it peeked at me through the sliding glass window.
She handed it to me and I walked out of the dentist’s office.
The stress is real and the impact it has on our bodies is also real. We do need medical help sometimes to work through the physical things we experience.
But, I had a smile on my face because this post was being written in my heart.
There are simple ways to find renewal and I must not forget to daily dig in to the strength, peace, love and help that our Father in Heaven offers us.
What are some simple ways that you find renewal in your every day life?
What are some things God has taught you as you go through the real stresses of living overseas?