What To Do When You’re A Missionary But You Feel Overwhelmed By The Headlines

You’re scrolling, scrolling. You click on the latest headline. You watch that one video your old classmate sent you. You skim your friend’s auntie’s comments. Suddenly the day that was totally fine turns into a swamp of headline stew. It takes three hours of TV episodes and a toasted quesadilla to crawl out.

This is not a hypothetical situation. This has been me, too many times—even when I was a full-time missionary in a loving, supportive community. But when the pandemic stretched longer than I thought possible, I needed to figure out some better ways to crawl out of that swamp. Jesus came so we “may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). So I put a pause on the TV-binging and quesadilla-devouring.

I discovered six things that shifted everything.

So, keep scrolling.

1. Thank God.

On the first Discipleship Training School I staffed, our leader bounded up to the stage. ”How many fingers do you have?!” We looked at him blankly. “That’s how many things I want you to thank God for!” Soon, everyone in the room was shouting out random items at once—even “toenails!”. So, hold out your hands and start counting. Don’t be surprised how quickly your own atmosphere shifts.

2. Take a break from social media.

You’ve heard this a billion times, I know. But seriously. Take a break. Your online ministry can wait. If you’re swamped by the latest news headline or what your friends are doing at home—delete your social media apps, even for a day. As Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things”. Seriously.

3. Rest.

While you’re at it, take a look at the fourth commandment. “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). God literally instructed us to have a full 24 hours off work (paid and unpaid), every week. Stop trying to get check one more thing off your to-do list. Worship and enjoy what God has given you. I dare you.

4. Pray more than you vent.

When I’m clawing to vent on social media—that’s my alarm. Time to run to my room, slam the door, and rant to the one who can actually change something. After that, I find time to connect with a wise and trusted mentor. And spoiler alert, I often find the stress is more about what’s going on in me, not others.

5. Name your fears.

It’s normal to get overwhelmed and generally label it “because I’m a missionary” or talk about the latest tragedy online. But usually, there’s something specific stressing you out—you just need to actually stop for a moment to name it. Is it fear of getting sick? Is it fear of not being able to pay your fees next month? Get specific. God doesn’t always meet you personally if you’re living in a world of “generally”.

6. Write the truth on your walls.

For every fear, God wants to give you specific truth. This is where Bible verses on your walls are no cheesy cliche. When I’m freaked out about travel or everything that could go wrong, I bump into my massive chalkboard: There is hope for your future (Jeremiah 31:17). What truth do you need on your walls? Start writing.

Kayla Norris
YWAM UofN Kona