This January I transitioned out of serving as a MissionCorps in the homes and now serve as a regular staff member, which means it’s a good time to think of what words of wisdom I have gained over my two years as a MissionCorps. What came to mind were the quotes and mantras that kept me going, so I share them with you now.
Don’t take it personally. This was one of the two common responses when I asked Maggie’s Place staff for advice when I started, and it has proven crucial. I have served as an outlet for frustration, anger, and a myriad of other emotions, as well as had to receive feedback that was less than uplifting, but not taking it personally has allowed me to carry on with less feathers ruffled and more emotional energy for actually working on what I could change.
St. Therese: “I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors’ defects–not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.” This goes against our competitive, comparative culture, always eager to see ourselves as better than another, but is so helpful when living with broken, imperfect humans, as we all are. One can be unhappy and negative about it, or can be positive and focused on success.
Fake it ‘til you make it. This one is important. To those who have commented on my calm, my ability, my leadership, my cheerfulness, I say, it was often a facade. And to those who are tired of faking it, I say, you really do make it, eventually. One day, you will realize that the cheerfulness is easy, that you really can be calm, that you were able to not take that constructive criticism as personal criticism. During my time at Maggie’s Place, I have been able to form those good habits that Aristotle would acknowledge as virtues precisely because of their habitualness, the ease with which they come because they have been performed over and over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot that still doesn’t come without effort, but you do make progress and in the meantime, a forced or pretended good habit or skill is better than a bad habit!
Cardinal Danneels, the Archbishop Emeritus of Brussels, quoted in Community and Growth (pg. 210): “When I get home after a long day I go to the chapel and pray. I say to the Lord, ‘There it is for today, things are finished. Now let’s be serious, is this diocese mine or yours?’ The Lord says, ‘What do you think?’ I answer, ‘I think it’s yours.’ ‘That is true,’ the Lord says, ‘it is mine.’ And so I say, ‘Listen Lord, it is your turn to take responsibility for and direct the diocese. I am going now to sleep.’” I thought about this one a lot when I first became a house manager. I remember multiple nights, kneeling in the dark on the floor of the chapel, deriving consolation from it, knowing that I should not and could not do this job myself, nor was it my burden to carry, but Christ’s job, Christ’s mission, that I was assisting with. And then I would go to sleep!
Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” This is such a simple statement, offering no evidence for its claim, but for me, it works, because fundamentally I believe this is true. It might not be true at the end of the day, but at the end of all things, it is, for Christ has said, “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33). These sayings remind me that it is not up to me whether it all turns out well or not. That is up to God, and we have his promise that it will. This was my anxiety-easing mantra when nothing else was helping.
Refuse and Replace. This is not so much a quote as the name of a counseling technique I learned from my counselor, but it has proved immensely helpful and I want to share it. You simply reject a negative thought and replace it with an alternate, more positive thought. It can be contradictory or unrelated or anything in between, and you may have to repeat this mental exercise over and over again, but it does help. For example: “I refuse to worry about how that person feels about me and instead I will think about what I want to do on my day off.”
You can do what you have to do. For me, when things were tough, just doing what I had to do instead of wondering if I could, helped me get hard things done. Afterward you can ask how you did it, and you probably won’t know! (See next quote.)
Divine Providence can provide. Divine Providence did provide. Divine Providence will provide. MissionCorps pray this every morning and evening in our community prayer, and it struck me when I first interviewed as a bold and beautiful belief to build a community on. I still feel the same way, but these two years have proven its truth in amazing and subtle ways to such an extent that it seems truly foolish to rely on anything else but DP. That’s Divine Providence, not Dr. Pepper.
There they are, the fruits of two years of intense stretching and growth. These two years have been an incredible privilege, challenge and blessing and I am so grateful and proud to have had the opportunity to join the ranks of the courageous and amazing women that have served as MissionCorps of Maggie’s Place.
By Lily Key, Arizona Regional Manager and an alum MissionCorps