The whole "holiday season" thing has me on edge.

I'm tired, I'm broke, I'm a terrible gift giver, I'm a super procrastinator, and when you add all that together, you get a stomach ache and a bad attitude and a bunch of people calling you a grinch (which we all know is just a polite way to tell someone they're an a-hole).

But I can't help it. I just feel like the commercialization of Christmas has stolen too much, and now it's a mere shell of what it ought to be. It makes me squirm when people say, "Jesus is the reason for the season!"

I want to say, "It's hardly fair to blame this mess on Jesus."

Perhaps I'm alone in my frustration over what Christmas has become; a circus of overindulgence. Maybe I'm the only one wondering what the hell I'm doing as I circle the Target parking lot in the rain at 10pm to pick up "one last thing". Maybe my disdain for this horse and pony show is mine alone; buying gifts for near strangers, running my ass off to get from brunch to tea to dinner to dessert (How is there a party for every hour of the day, anyway?!), rolling my eyes behind the lady in line who loudly exclaims how much she spent on stocking stuffers for her daughter as she swipes her credit card. Yeah, lady, we get it. Your daughter is soooo lucky. 

Seriously. What a Crapfest. 

Maybe I'm the only one who can't sleep because my horrible personality mixed with The Most Wonderful Time of the Year creates some sort of toxin that seems to linger in the air. I swear, it's like a big emotional fart. So I lay in bed, awake and unhappy, and I ask God, " What am I doing?!...This isn't what Christmas is supposed to be! This is chaos. This is wasteful. This is crap!"

And, in the dark, I want to think His silence equals approval, but it doesn't. I know, because His answer comes later.

Later, when I'm belting out "GloOOOooOOOooOOOooria!" in the kitchen with all three of my boys. And it's, like, really bad. We're using candy canes as microphones, and even though we sound awful, we don't care because our joy is wild. So we keep singing, and somehow through that off key disaster, I can feel Him whispering to my soul, "This..."

Or, later, when I can see my breath as I walk around the block leaving peppermint goodies on doorsteps - y'know, loving my neighbors, and all that. In soft steps, and wind blown hair, and pink cheeks, flushed with cold, He breathes, "This..."

And, later, when I'm frantically cleaning my house before guests arrive, and in my fury to conceal my piggish ways, I knock over a stack of books and one flips open... So I stop and pick it up... And I read... 

"Do not be afraid, for behold, 
I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, 
who is Christ the Lord. 
And this will be the sign to you: 
You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

~Luke 2 

And then I remember. Oh, yeah. This...

This is kind of a big deal. 


Feeling grinchy?


So, you wanna be a missionary...

Despite the fact that I have made my failings at being a missionary quite clear, younger folks still ask me for advice pretty often. It's like they go, “I have questions about being a missionary. Hmmm... I know! I'll ask the very worst one!” …. Ooookaay.

So here's the Very Worst Missionary's Very Best Advice for Missionarying:

Are you ready for it? 

Get a job!

Then? Work the hell out of that job for three years.

Honestly, this is the best advice I can give you.

I know. So disappointing.

But here's why:

A “real job” - yes, that's what people in ministry call work outside of the church. Scary! - anyway, a real job will teach you things you'll need to know in the mission field. Important stuff, like work ethic, sustainability, productivity, and value.

A real job can expose you to real conflict management (and not the shitty “Christian” kind they'll teach in missionary training. Honestly. Our track record at dealing with conflict is pretty horrible).

A real job will teach you to live on a real budget. Because if you say to your real boss, “Hey, can I have some more money for a new car this week?” They'll say “Um...No.” And then you'll have to save your money, like a normal person, and buy the car later. Or not buy the car. … I know. It's cRaZy!

A real job will help you learn not to be an entitled, self-righteous bunghole. Because if you act like that at a real job, they will kick your ass to the curb.

A real job will help you understand time management. Because, your real schedule will not likely allow you to spend three hours every Friday afternoon with your friends or your kids, - even if you call it “discipleship” on Facebook. Actually, that reminds me, your real job won't let you call any time you spend on Facebook “work”. Not “support development”, not “communication”, not “team building”... Nope. No matter how you say it, Real Job does not approve.

A real job will allow you to support a missionary. Yeah. You should know how that feels.

But, most important?... A real job is a real mission field. So learn some freakin' respect.

And the other thing I tell people is this (and it's a doozie!):

Understand the difference between wanderlust and
 wanting to be a missionary.

The world is AMAZING! God's creation is simply ASTOUNDING! It should be seen and respected. But there is a big difference between seeing and serving. And the Church does not exist to fulfill your desire to see the world.

I totally believe that this planet, this place God spoke into being, deserves our reverence. If it's calling out to you, then go, and revere it with all your heart! But don't use the Church to pay your way. And don't use your participation in weak or broken ministry as a means to collect stamps in your passport.

Get a job. Save your money. And then take a trip to somewhere incredible. Trust me, your tourist dollars will be greatly appreciated!

And this is where I bail, because, beyond what I've just said, I think the journey to becoming a missionary is highly unique and personal. It's spirit-led, prayer dependent, driven by hard work and perseverance, and it's not always awesome or easy.

If you still want to be a missionary, then maybe it's time for you to find a healthy ministry (which means asking lots of good questions and being mindful of the answers) and ask them how you can get on board with what they're doing.

That's my advice. ....What?! I never said it would be good advice. 

So, Blessings as you go. 

To work.

Aaaat a real job.  ;) 

....         .....        ....

Have you ever wanted to be a missionary? ~ OR ~ Got any advice for wannabe missionaries?