Is your missionary friend overly stressed? How would you know?
There are many types of stress, and they aren’t all bad.
When a missionary is dealing with detrimental stress, you won’t always know it. Cross-cultural workers learn to blend into their surrounding culture. And they often behave as they think others expect them to behave – not as they actually feel.
Again, not always a bad thing.
But if you think they are some kind of super Christian, you may harbor the unspoken expectation that they will usually live above the stresses that would crush the rest of us mere mortals. Even without intending or wanting to communicate those expectations, they will pick up on them and try to hide their true condition. After all, when the going gets tough, the tough… you know the rest.
Unrealistic optimism, unqualified confidence, unrelenting perseverance – these can be masks that are worn to avoid revealing the cracks in their armor. Cracks that have formed because of chronic stress.
So how would you know if your missionary friend is covering up? You must earn the right to ask them significant questions, and then you must put that privilege to use.