When volunteers and donors come to the homes, they often ask in one way or another, “What is your success rate?” By this they typically mean how many moms get jobs, further their education, and are generally stable enough to care for themselves and their child by the time leave. These are legitimate questions; however, what happens at Maggie’s Place is more than the world’s view of success. What happens at Maggie’s Place is the transfiguration of the human heart.
One of our core values is creating an environment of healing and growth—for moms, MissionCorps, and all who enter our door. All of us have wounds that need healing and grace. The struggles of this world can make our hearts stony, self-protective, and impenetrable. Our moms especially have known profound suffering and have needed to survive in less than ideal situations. Not everything will be perfect, but when you’re welcomed into a community of love and dignity, healing happens.
Living in community makes your heart more fleshy. We sometimes have moms who haven’t cried in years because crying meant weakness. Then they come to Maggie’s Place and the flood gates open. Everything makes them cry and they don’t know why. It’s not just pregnancy hormones (though that plays a role); healing is happening in their hearts and they feel safe enough to finally grieve or see beauty in life. They are no longer numb. Some moms come and they don’t laugh. They won’t even crack a smile. Everything has always been so serious. Then they enter a house filled with women and babies. It may take some time and patience, but eventually they smile and start to laugh (usually it’s the babies that first win them over). Laughter is a very important part of our community life and heals deep down in the soul. Genuine joy makes the sorrows of life less of a burden.
We’re not always crying and laughing. We have to give the moms “tough love” and hold them accountable to the rules and expectations of the house. One thing that I think is often most healing for our moms is how we as a house model and become family. The majority of our moms were raised in very broken homes that may have lacked discipline, healthy ways of relating to one another, or respect. We try to model and enforce those things in each of the homes. We also have lots of conversations about healthy relationships. More than conversations about relationships, one very important aspect of healing for our moms is interacting with good men. One mom recently said that her favorite part of Maggie’s Place is the male volunteers that come to do house coverage, babysit, or fix things. Why? Because they give her hope.
Even more than tears, laughter, a place to call home, and family, what makes Maggie’s Place a place of healing and growth is love. Love Himself resides in the chapels of our homes. Love is what transforms hearts. We love both mother and child and try to put their needs first. As a mom was moving out, she told the MissionCorps helping her pack, “Your love made me glimpse heaven. Thank you.”
As I make this journey towards living a life of love, I often fall, but I am beyond thankful to be sharing the road with a community that I call home and constantly shows me what it looks like to love. Lord, make my heart like unto thine.
“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” –Ezekiel 36:26
By Elisa Raubach, a MissionCorps member