I Thought I Had Stress Handled, and Then I Became A Missionary.
Updated: Apr 13
One would think I have this whole wellness thing handled.
I’m a certified health coach, former fitness instructor, and I’ve made a career out of selling exercise equipment and supplements on TV. My mornings start the night before with a hyper focus on good sleep, then I awaken (rested) with prayer, journaling, exercise, sauna, cold plunge and fasting. I don’t check my work phone on my weekends and I’m continually studying the latest research when it comes to best health practices. If you asked me four months ago how my stress management was Id respond that I confidently handle stress quite well with the help of my Lord. I know cortisol is a killer and over the last ten years I’ve made eliminating stress a priority.
Then I became a missionary.
Within the first few weeks my deep sleep quality improved, my HRV score got higher, my morning monkey brain (aka anxiousness) disappeared, and my skin shone brighter. Most notable, I just felt happier and more relaxed.
This was not because I was on “vacation.”
If I have a master’s in health and wellness, I have a bachelors in vacation.
It’s my love language. But even on my many vacations (or as I like to point out, they are weekends) there was always looming stress.
Missionary work became my antidote to stress.
The difference is living with less.
To get to this place of serving for three months, I got rid of so much stuff. Literally sold cars, cancelled services, put anything I could on Facebook marketplace, stopped Amazon, and of course the biggie; walked away from a successful yet stressful corporate job.
That last one is significant because I love what I do. I wouldn’t have said my actual job was particularly stressful before I left it. In fact, I was so worried I would miss it so much! What I’ve come to realize is it’s my reactions to the job, not the job itself. The defensiveness I feel at endless emails, corporate meetings, self-imposed goals, and people pleasing that has had me living at a low level of high cortisol consistently. My career is a blessing and a joy, but my management of it brought me stress, because I was constantly striving to hold on to a level of success instead of just enjoying the work.
That’s really my entire life; working to keep what I’ve attained.
That could be my definition of stress.
Working in a small medical clinic in Mexico there is absolutely zero of any of the above.
That’s not to say living away from the comforts of the United States and our big house and cozy beds and endless ability to acquire anything at any time, wasn’t hard. Living around poverty is a different type of difficult. But, one that is much more easily released to the Lord. There is no question of control. Nothing to hold on to except your relationship with Him and your family.
I’d wake up freezing in a home with no heat and have only basic human needs to tend to. No ego or personalities or overbearing schedules to manage. My mind was free to focus on simple tasks and trusting the Lord to provide for the day.
It’s so counterintuitive because I’m one that doesn’t subscribe to “money can’t buy happiness.” I think it can absolutely make life easier and thus often lead to more joy. But in this mission field in Mexico with hardly anything, people - and specifically me - seem happie. No access to Target, Costco, Amazon 24/7 food and grocery, gyms, Super Walmart, or heck, even clean water from a tap. The act of grabbing a barrel and walking to fill up your water allows for a time of exercise, fresh air, and a focus on gratitude for that water. All the endless stuff we consume without even thinking about it creates a wall in between us and our Lord. Too many orders to manage, bills to pay, things to organize in our overstuffed homes creates this level of noise that the Lords voice can’t get through.
When I left it all behind, I could hear Him.
Days before I’m back in the states and the nervousness of reentry is real. Now that I know what it feels like to really live in a world of less stress, I never want to let go. As becoming a missionary was only possible because of God, I know that keeping stress levels low back in a high stress job and upper middle-class community, with three American kids and a husband and employer to keep happy will only be attained by listening to where the Lord leads.
There are things I’ve learned in these few months that I will take with me to manage my stress.
But I am scared.
There is no way I can go back to life as it was and that means hard decisions and tough discussions.
It means continuing to live with less and not letting my ego get in the way.
Less of everything, more of God.
It’s the hardest simple sentence to seize.
Thank you for all your donations over the past three months. You are all the most generous group and you have shown this community in Baja so much love from afar.
I feel confident that with your donations we can get that van or something similar for transportation, a new doctor, nurse and administrator and Siloe can continue to support thousands of people.
My last act as a volunteer is to do something I do best and give you some clothing!
Make your extra tax-deductible donation and we will send you a special edition 5th year Anniversary Hoodie (100-dollar donation) or T-shirt (50 dollar donation.) Wear the symbol of generosity and humanity proudly knowing you are helping save lives.
Then respond to this email and let me know you made a donation!
We only have 25 sweatshirts and 25 T-shirts left.
Siloe has reached thousands of patients serving them through free medical, dental, gynecology, pediatrics, chiropractic, physical therapy, exercise, nutrition, and psychology.
Your tax deductible donation makes all the difference.
Thank you from the entire Siloe staff.
Im back on TV 4.20 for Feel Good Finds.