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"I could never do what you do..."

I have been told this many times.

"I could never do it!" people have told me.  I understand what they are saying.  Most of them, I believe, mean to communicate admiration.  Admiration is nice, as far as it goes. But it can also be isolating.

When people say this, sometimes as a missionary, this is what we hear....

"I could never do what you are doing.... therefore I put you in another category. You are a super-Christian"

"I could never do what you do..... therefore the challenges that you face must not faze you much."

"I could never do what you do..... therefore I can distance myself from your struggle, and admire you from afar."

I don't believe that most people mean to say those things. Perhaps I am the only missionary who has struggled with this phrase.  But perhaps not.

Missions work can already feel lonely.  I live in a culture foreign to the one I grew up in. And while I have learned to love my adopted country, and love it's people …