|Map from: http://www.freeworld|
For several years, my church has been sending short term mission teams to Africa and Central America. For a long time, I wanted to go on one of these trips, but was unable due to my OCD contamination fears. Sadly, the people that get served by our church's missionaries live in appalling circumstances, and it is not unusual for their living arrangements to be near open rivers of raw sewage. Given the severity of my OCD symptoms, spending time in this environment (without a complete meltdown) is not a very likely scenario.
I became convinced that being able to go on one of these trips would be proof of my recovery, and so I felt an obligation to go. I also felt the guilt about not being able to go. Ugh. It was just another thing that I wasn't able (or maybe willing?) to do. What kind of Christian was I? Not a very good one in my estimation.
The last thing I would ever want to do on a mission trip is be a complete distraction with my anxiety. People work hard on these trips and they are there to serve, not to babysit one of their team members. That would make the trip about me, and not the people the trip is supposed to be about. Also, I realized that I wanted to go on one of these trips just to prove my mental health. Not exactly a noble reason.
One day recently, it hit me totally out of the blue. Who said that I had to go on a mission to prove that I was better from OCD? There was only one person: me. I now understand that mission trips are not for everyone, and that maybe God wasn't even calling me to the mission field at all. I could certainly be there for others through financial support, prayers, and encouragement, but there was absolutely nothing dictating that I had to physically participate in a mission myself. So I've taken myself off the hook from having to serve in this way. You know what? It's been sweet relief. There are so many other ways I can serve Jesus and my fellow man (or woman!).