Living in community with those you serve and those with whom you serve is one of the most unique experiences you can give yourself. You learn very quickly what makes your fellow community members tick. You learn their love languages, their ways of expressing frustration, their likes, and their dislikes. You learn their pet peeves and the way they will not let you listen to country music in the car. The only time you are truly alone is in the shower. The members of your community influence one another without even realizing it. You eventually begin to dress like one another, talk like one another, and be inspired by one another.
At Maggie’s Place, the community effect is similar for moms and MissionCorps alike. When living in community with moms and Corps, the twelve of us affect one another in many ways. One of the staples of going through the Maggie’s Place New Corps Training is the “fish bowl” talk. Living in the homes is like living in a fish bowl. MissionCorps are expected to model healthy behaviors because, much like being in a fish bowl, we are constantly being watched. The moms notice things about us that we don’t even notice ourselves.
Life in a fish bowl can be challenging. Twenty-four hour professionalism is exhausting, especially when wearing multiple hats in the operation of a home. With the exception of our weekly day off, MissionCorps are never truly off the clock. I laugh when one of my family members asks me when my shift is over or when one of my friends from back home asks what my plans are for the weekend. Even when we are not “on duty,” it is imperative that we exemplify healthy relationships, self-respect, and good decisions, as we may be the only reflection of Christ the moms ever see. These women are influenced by our words, but more so by our actions. They notice the small things we do each day, and the way we show we are Christians by our love.
I had the privilege of attending the annual Phoenix Catholic Women’s Conference this past weekend. The keynote speaker, Leah Darrow, told her conversion story. Receiving reconciliation for the first time in a long time, the priest asked her if she was Catholic, to which she replied, “I am so Catholic.” She then realized the truth, and one of the most memorable quotes from the conference: “If you have to say that you are so Catholic, you are so not Catholic.” One of the things that I remind myself of is that self-proclaimed qualities usually contradict the truth. If I truly exemplify something, I should not have to proclaim it for I would know it to be true if I authentically lived it. This is an example of the truth that our actions genuinely speak louder than our words and the importance of exemplifying a wholesome lifestyle through our actions.
The choice to live “in a fish bowl” is challenging, exhausting, and one of the most difficult things one can do. It is, however, one of the best things one can do for oneself. Knowing that we may be the only reflection of Christ that some people ever see serves as an accountability measure for us as MissionCorps to live an admirable lifestyle and to show our love through action. Life as a MissionCorps member is an opportunity to be a role model and a mentor which is a consolation for the days when twenty-four hour professionalism has driven you to exhaustion. Even when life in a fish bowl is difficult, life in a fish bowl is so wonderful.
By Mary Clare Lally, a MissionCorps member