Often times, I feel like I get caught up in the “me” side of things when it comes to Lent. What’s the easiest thing for me to give up? What’s going to hurt the least and put me out as little as possible?
When I was a kid, I remember giving up chocolate milk at lunch one year for Lent—and I hated milk! Big sacrifice on my part, right? I’m not diminishing the importance of sacrificing and purifying ourselves through abstaining from things that are temptations, or perhaps even sinful. Spending 40 days reflecting on the distractions that cloud our relationship with God is a powerful way to recall the time our Lord spent in the desert; resisting the temptations that surrounded Him. Adding positive habits like attending daily Mass or spending extra time in prayer are wonderful ways to eliminate the distractions in our lives, and turn our focus to God.
Still, I sometimes feel like that kid again—trying to mull over Lenten ideas that won’t cramp my style. I lose sight of the point behind it all; it becomes less about “Him” and more about “me”. Then I’m reminded the answer can be found in my own home, through the people I live with.
Even more than just sweets, coffee, bad habits, Facebook and maybe even chocolate milk, we are called to “give up” ourselves to serve and love those around us. I can’t think of any place where this is better demonstrated than in our Maggie’s Place community.
To “give up” yourself means allowing God to use you in ways that glorify Him; sometimes in what can seem like the most insignificant of ways. Our hands reflect the work of God’s hands, our mouths speak His words, and our minds focus on the goodness and blessings we are surrounded with. Day after day, I see this exemplified in our home—from donors who show up at our door with individualized gifts for our moms, to the Corps who not only “give up” their time and talents every day but commit to a year (or even more) of leaving the comforts of their homes and families; sometimes thousands of miles away, to bring the light of Christ to another home and an even bigger “family”.
Perhaps the most monumental self-sacrifice, however, can be seen in our moms. Against the wishes of their family, friends, peers and sometimes even their doctors, these brave women say “yes” to giving up their lives and comforts, and going to whatever length it takes to give the best possible life to their unborn child. For so many, this simply begins with a phone call to one of our homes, asking for help and seeking a safe place where they can live, thrive, and prepare for motherhood. I’ve met moms that give up everything they’ve ever known—drugs, bad relationships and friendships, and homelessness—to venture into a new and unknown world, with their children and families in tow, trusting that Maggie’s Place is the best place for their dreams to take root.
This love extends even beyond the mother-child relationship. On more than one occasion, I have witnessed the moms in our home set aside what they’re doing to help another—showing a new mom where forms are on the desk, holding a baby so the mom can take a quick shower, or preparing extra food at dinner time so a busy mom doesn’t have to worry about cooking. And on my worst days, the moms are the first ones to offer me a smile or a hug. These women, and the Corps included, who are all faced with different struggles and burdens, “give up” what they are doing in order to serve and love their sisters in Christ. The path may not be easy and the plan may not be obvious, but by letting go of ourselves and letting God work through us, we are able to be better imitators of Christ’s love to those around us.
In a world which preaches “me”, “I”, and “mine”, I am blessed to be surrounded by such beautiful examples of selfless love and compassion. As Christ gave of himself out of love for us, I pray that during this Lenten season, we truly embrace the call to give of ourselves up out of love for our brothers and sisters in our communities, families and homes.
By MaryCatherine Jadlos, MissionCorps member at The Elizabeth House