The Oxymoronic SAHM (Stay At Home Missionary)


Dear fellow questioning, longing, joyful and victorious screw-ups,

We are missionaries in Costa Rica but days of doubt are frequent visitors to my regularly scheduled programming.  They usually creep up on me (sneaky bastards) and latch on with a giant leap like a monkey jumping on my back and weighing me down.  And as they drag down my shoulders they extend their neck and quietly whisper in my ear “Ha! And you call yourself a missionary.”

I mean, what’s so missionary-ish about my every day?  I wake up at 5:30am (including Saturdays) to my two hungry alarm clocks, and desperately try to get coffee made while attending to the demands of said almost two and five-year-old alarm clocks who want breakfast, juice, milk, gum?, a different movie on, a non-poopy diaper, their blankie from upstairs, etc.  I do laundry, dishes, chores of the sweeping/mopping variety (less often than needed), plan meals (sort of), cook meals (sometimes), grocery shop, wash and hang cloth diapers, PICK UP TOYS and say “no” with alarming frequency throughout my day.

I rejoice in naptimes and bedtimes and at the arrival of the school “meecro-boos” each morning… and I also glory in the running hugs upon arrival home from school (which are swiftly becoming less frequent), the smiley greetings from the crib in the morning, and the annoyed and impatient cries of “MA-MA-MA-MA-MA!” after a nap.  I am subject to fits of tears, depression, frustration, anger, jealousy (sometimes of other moms, sometimes of other missionaries), and insanity (or at least suspiciously flaky behavior) on a daily basis as well as fits of laughter to the point of tears, unexplained gentleness, selflessness, pride, the heart-bursting kind of love, and deep abiding joy.

But… in all of that rambling there’s not a whole lot that sounds “missionary”-ish.  In fact, right now the only things that sound very missionary-ish at all are meeting on Thursdays with this awesome woman here one on one to study the life of Jesus over coffee and chat while my baby plays (translated – endlessly distracts us from our focus in the Word) and teaching a study on Jesus’ life to some women at our church.

How can I call myself a missionary?

A little bit ago, a woman in the blogosphere (Tamara from Tamara Out Loud) asked me a question… How has God gifted me to work out redemption?  And I was reminded gently and lovingly that’s what I do everytime I show my kids grace, gently rebuke and discipline them for a sin (though sometimes my gentleness is less than apparent on the bad days), give them my attention when I feel I have no more to give, provide for their physical needs as well as their spiritual ones, teach them who Jesus is day by day, show them who Jesus is through my actions and choices, allow them to make a mess, teach them how to clean it up (or pick it up myself some evenings), cry with them when they are sad and do a happy dance when they have a victory… pray for them all the time…

It’s not that I’m not a missionary… it’s that my primary disciples at this point in my life are just tiny, precious people mostly unspoiled by the world and hungry for the kind of love that is redeeming.  I’m just a SAHM (Stay At Home Missionary) working out redemption in my home… and this too shall pass, all too quickly I suspect.  I’ll be back to more missionary-ish activity in the blink of an eye when these “tiny disciples of Jesus” are making disciples of their own.  So I say “screw you!” to the monkey on my back whispering it’s sweet nothings of doubt.  Who but Jesus decides what a missionary looks like anyway!?


The Epistolarian

P.S. – What non-missionary-ish disciple-making most marks your life these days?



8 responses »

  1. This post highlights so well how we stereotype people constantly—for example, what does a “missionary” look like/act like/do? As writers we are constantly striving to get beyond the stereotypical in our characters, aren’t we? In my historical novel, the Occidentals, I had a missionary character. He was a good, decent, honest man (probably the most noble character in the book), but I wanted to make him non-stereotypical, so I gave him a tragic past, and I gave him an unusual hobby—he was a reader of romantic novels!

    • Yes, lets face it, we all have a closet with a few skeletons or at least some baggage, no matter what we “do”… that is to be human and to be broken. If you can’t see brokenness, you haven’t looked long enough… that is my mantra when I am writing a character b/c I find it to be true in life as well.

  2. I read this when you posted it, but I must have read it on my phone, or quickly, or maybe just tonight my heart is quickened as I read slow, because it’s struck such a deep chord with me. I am constantly tempted to imagine my life in some other setting (in a missions context, ahem) and imagine how gloriously different it would be. But this stage of life is ripe with opportunity for redemption, regardless of vocation or location, and your words bring me right back to those simple things I’m daily called to, daily failing at and finding grace to begin again. Thank you for this.

  3. This post is just AwEsOmE!

    I wonder if sacrifices of time and energy (not much to spare!!) that we SAHM’s are making to stay in the Movement of Multiplication are something that Jesus saw in “Mary, Susanna, Joanna and many other women” (Lk 8:1-3)? I mean, were they too making little and big disciples and going crazy half the time as well?

    Super blessed to have your company in the journey!

    • Yeah, I never really thought about that. I always picture the women with Jesus as single and young (sort of like the women we see in ministry most of the time today). Ha, thanks for calling that to my attention! I miss our times together but am so glad that we share in the same stage of life!

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