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Self-care in a season of chaos.

When we moved to South Africa, I had come out of a very challenging season in Malawi. It was hard on all fronts – from helping our children transition, to navigating life in a foreign country, the ever-precarious visa process, the insurgence of Covid-19, to understanding a new organization and all of the intricate policies, procedures, and bureaucracy. It was hard. But, like I have said before, we were able to find creative ways to establish stability.

Still, when we arrived in South Africa, I felt like I had run a marathon and was standing at the starting line of yet another marathon. The decision for our move was, primarily, to get help for Jasper. We knew he had some significant developmental issues, and South Africa provided the much-needed resources to help him.

As I sat in our Airbnb one afternoon, completely exhausted and weary, I remember thinking: “Can one lose resiliency? Is it possible that I am not able to bounce back from challenges like I used to?” A friend of mine called me. She and I have known each other since high school, and we are both Third Culture Kids. She said to me, as I was thinking out loud, that the question of resiliency cannot be answered when one is in the middle of transition. She encouraged me to walk slowly and take it one day at a time.

I was beginning to feel like, perhaps, God was disciplining me- that all of this hard stuff we were facing and working through was because I had, somehow, upset and disappointed God. I was stressed out trying to determine if my own frustration and anger at some of the things we had experience had been a result of me not being a good enough Christian, missionary, wife, mother, etc. While I was grateful- deeply grateful- that God had brought us to a place where we could help Jasper, and we had even found incredible resources for him, and for our family, I couldn’t shake this feeling that I was somehow responsible for how hard the past year had been. And I was worried that I might not bounce back from it.

A few months later, I was on a Zoom call with a mentor of mine, sharing with her my fears, my worries, and doubts, and she said to me, in the most empathetic and kind way, “Amy, I think you need to walk in God’s love. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. He is not disciplining you. He wants you to know that he loves you, and he is with you.” I can’t begin to explain how the combination of my friend’s words and this mentor’s words spoke life to me. They still do. I have a small sign that I received as a gift from this mentor before we moved overseas. It says, “You are loved”, and it is a gentle reminder of this truth that I see each day when I sit at my desk.


Walk in God’s love.

Be gentle with yourself.


Release these burdens and cares and rest in God’s presence.

Take it one day at a time.

Transition in a season of chaos brings a kind of weariness that is difficult to describe. It overwhelms and saturates so much of our lives. Too often we brush it off, or we blame ourselves for not being strong enough or resilient enough to handle the chaos, rather than recognize that we have limits. And it is okay to have limits. It is okay to say, “I’ve reached my capacity.”

Self-care in a season of chaos, for me, looks like:

1.     Waking up in the morning and reminding myself that I am loved by God.

2.     Loving my husband.

3.     Prioritizing my family.

4.     Homecooked meals.

5.     Handing over the things that are out of my control to God.

6.     Laughter with my family.

7.     Reading books that help me understand the process I am working through.

8.     Regulating social media.

9.     Speaking kind words to myself.

10.  Letting go of guilt when saying “no” to something is the healthy thing to do.

Transition is a season. It is not a lifestyle. The missionary life tends to be more transitory in nature than a regular occupation, but constant transition is not the norm, even for missionary life. It is a season; these seasons pass.

It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place in between that we fear…It’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.

Marilyn Ferguson, American Futurist

Transition is the in-between. It’s the letting go and the reaching out with no clear sight of the new beginning. I would add to Marilyn Ferguson’s thought that we, as Christ followers, do have something – Someone – to hold on to. The season of transition breeds all kinds of internal restlessness, and it feels overwhelming when we are in the thick of it. However, we are not alone. As we learn to pivot in the chaos, we have someone in the storm keeping the boat from sinking. Jesus never leaves us. He promises that he has gone before us, and he is also in the middle of all the mess with us…standing strong.

Resting in his love and allowing his presence to carry us through the seas of the in-between, will give us the resilience we need to keep pressing on and moving forward.

It is okay to take care of yourself in these seasons of chaos. It is okay to hit “pause” and remind yourself that you are loved by God. Rather than try to figure out if you are doing it right, or doing it well, give yourself the gift of care – whatever that might look like for you. This is not a race…you don’t lose points for those moments you pause…stop…recalibrate. One of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself- and your family- through periods of transition is self-care. Eventually, you will find yourself on the other side of the trapeze.

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One Response to “how to transition well in a season of chaos #3”

  1. Judy Hayburn says:

    That was so powerful, encouraging, and practical. I believe your insights and wisdom will be such a blessing and encouragement for all of us who are experiencing transition in this time in our lives. it truly blessed me!

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