When considering a year of service, there can be many factors that motivate a young person to seek out an opportunity, including everything from seeking adventure to gaining “real world” experience before grad school. For Maggie’s Place MissionCorps, many of these motivations are rooted in the desire to serve others, to give of oneself in an intensive and vulnerable way, and to bring hope and love to those who need it the most.
I can’t tell you exactly why I came to Maggie’s Place, because in looking back, God had His hand in it more than I could have ever known at the time. I knew that I wanted to love and serve, but, not unlike the moms I would ultimately serve, I also came to Maggie’s Place seeking escape, healing, a new beginning, and a renewal of my relationship with Christ. I knew that the work would be hard and the days tiring, but still, I felt God calling me “home”to this place.
As the days of our service pass, we sometimes forget that although we have been called to love and serve the moms, what brought us here in the first place was also often our own brokenness, a sense of not yet fulfilled purpose. and of course the search for God in our own lives. More and more, it becomes clear in our service to others that the brokenness we bring from our own lives is somehow transformed into the strength and courage to love the moms and “walk with” them on their way.
As my time here comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past two years in an attempt to bring closure and come to a “conclusion” about the work we do and role we play as MissionCorps. I am discovering that our “mission” as Corps members is quite simple. Whether it is a joyful day or a challenging one, our first call of duty is to simply say “yes” and show up.
It is easy to “show up” in the joyful times: holding new babies, celebrating Community Nights and other events, and sharing many laughs with the friends that become our family. However, it can become more challenging to respond to that call in some of the less exciting or more challenging moments of our days.
We “show up” when we drag ourselves out of bed in the morning, sacrificing a few extra minutes of sleep, to gather as a Corps and pray morning prayer together, asking God to be with us in every moment of the day. We “show up” when we sit at the kitchen table, watching our own dinner get cold while we hold a newborn so that a tired mama can eat hers. We “show up” when we make those late night hospital runs at the first signs of labor, sleeping on waiting room couches and watching infomercials on repeat. We “show up” when a mom asks us to show her how to assemble her stroller and car seat (thank goodness for YouTube), and when we have no clue how to check the coolant levels in the cars. We “show up” when we go out of our comfort zone to embrace new roommates, a commitment to simple living, and handing our lives over to God, acknowledging that without Him, we can do nothing.
And at the end of the day, we “show up” not because it is a task or job, but because through our daily work, we witness miracles, unconditional love, and the joy of knowing that the exact duty God has given us in that moment is the reason we were called here in the first place.
I’m reminded of this in the reading of the Passion every Holy Week. By no coincidence, Simon was called by God to “show up” in Jerusalem to cross paths with Christ on His journey to Calvary. What might have seemed like an unexpected demand from the soldiers to a man in the crowd was really the call for Simon to make a choice – to respond in love or not to respond at all. And I can only imagine that after such a brief encounter with Christ, Simon’s life was changed in a way he could never have imagined. I believe this draws quite the parallel to our call as MissionCorps. We meet a mother in the middle of her own “way” of the Cross, and we have the choice to “show up,” to make the intentional decision to recognize Christ in her and to walk with her on her journey. Through her stay at Maggie’s Place, the amount of time we are able to “walk with” a mom may seem very insignificant; however, it is exactly where God has called us to “show up,” giving her the hope and love she needs to continue on in her journey.
MissionCorps are called to place our brokenness aside to serve God and love His children. We are called to be the “Simons;” to meet a woman in need and to walk with her as a sister in Christ. When we respond to this call, we are giving of ourselves in a beautiful and vulnerable way. But through this giving, it is Christ Himself who moves our hands and feet, guides our mouths and minds to share His love, and fills us with His unfathomable grace. We are changed; we can better love each other because of the love and mercy He pours out on us.
To anyone considering a year of service with Maggie’s Place – know that we are praying for you, and don’t be afraid to have the courage to respond with joy to God’s call in your life to “show up.” Know that in doing so, you are standing on the shoulders of many young women who have come before and so beautifully responded to that call for the last 15 years. You will laugh, cry, grow, change lives, and through the grace of God, be changed in an indescribable way yourself.
And to all those who have already responded to this call – and especially to those with whom I have had the honor and joy of serving – thank you, thank you, thank you. I am in such awe of the beauty of the hearts and hands that have welcomed me into this community and taught me how to love. You have shown me the true meaning of service, love, and sisterhood, and I am so grateful.
By MaryCatherine Jadlos, a MissionCorps member