What have I been doing these last 6 months? I have shared deeply with many people, laughed, cried with others, listened to numerous briefs and written lots of reports. But what have I really learnt? Hopefully lots of things but in general terms I have dealt with four different groups of people:
THE FREAKOUTS! These are the people who came here with a poor understanding of the job they were called to do and the environment in which they were called to work. They had unrealistic expectations of themselves and others, and when faced with long working hours, difficult tasks in a hostile climate, they drop the ball, freak out and give up.
THE RUSTOUTS! These may have been through the freak-out stage but have decided to stick it out. They believe that everybody else owes them something, and so they put in minimum effort, refuse to get involved and show no enthusiasm or passion for life here. They continually complain whether it is about the routine nature of the job, the lack of entertainment or that they have no friends. They are content to sit out their time here and simply rust out, doing nothing to help themselves or those around them.
THE BURNOUTS! In contrast to the above, these are so dedicated to the job that they are willing to sacrifice everything for the mission. They have a great work ethic, they never complain, yet as the fatigue takes its toll, they do more and more yet seem to enjoy it less and less. They are eager to volunteer for extra duties, and are always available, but maybe they have lost the balance that will allow them to keep up this level of activity.
THE BREAKOUTS! As I look back over my time here I recognise that I have not just worked with each of these groups but I have also been part of them! My challenge to each has been the same – to break out of that rut! You are here because of your choice, so choose to enjoy it! Yes it might not have been what you expected, but give it all you have got anyway. Get out of your room, make friends and make an effort to share the unique experiences that are available here. This is your life, not a dress rehearsal, so don’t waste your time wishing you were somewhere else. There is also more to life than just work, so if you are in burnout mode, take some time out to look at the big picture.
My time here has not always been easy, but as I have told many others, the key is to stay in balance, by keeping fit, physically, mentally and spiritually. It has been great to share this journey with you, and my hope and prayer is that you may find that balance and grow to know God’s blessing and refreshment even here in the desert.
Chaplain Ian Whitley