I once heard it said that Maggie’s Place is nobody’s comfort zone. While we seek to make our houses into homes, there is an element to our lives shared in common that is very uncomfortable. It’s not comfortable for the moms to be in place where they are held accountable, where they are challenged to change old ways of thinking and behaving, and where they are loved unconditionally. It’s an uncomfortable challenge for the MissionCorps to seek to offer unconditional love. As a MissionCorps, I find the lack of privacy, the need to be “on” at all times, and the intense sense of responsibility to be particularly uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable for all of us living with people of such diverse backgrounds, temperaments, and lifestyles. It’s uncomfortable for all of us when we are seeking healing and growth. It’s uncomfortable to experience another’s suffering.
It’s a good thing the point of life is not to be comfortable, or else Maggie’s Place might be doing something very wrong. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reminds us “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” This time in the fishbowl (or pressure cooker!) is preparing each of us for something great. Greatness doesn’t necessarily mean worldly success like money, fame, or power. Greatness can be much more humble and beautiful. Sometimes greatness looks like the perseverance to say no to temptations towards addictions every single day. Sometimes greatness looks like getting up with a crying infant at 2 in the morning. Sometimes greatness means ending toxic relationships. Greatness can be lived in very little ways, but each of those little ways is important.
At Maggie’s Place, I am often confronted with my own poverty. And that’s uncomfortable. My love is far from perfect, my hope sometimes despairs, and my faith can be weak. I almost never have the perfect thing to say. I can’t fix everything or make the suffering of others go away, and it’s not my job to. Seeing my weaknesses and failures is not comfortable, but it’s part of the growing pains towards greatness. The journey towards wholeness is not easy.
We each come into this home with our own rough edges and places in our hearts that have become hard. As our rough edges encounter the rough edges of others, there is an uncomfortable friction. But that friction often leads to a softening. While it might be painful, we learn mercy and compassion as our wounds encounter the wounds of others. It’s easy and comfortable to keep the wounds of others and ourselves at a distance, but that’s not greatness. In the messiness of life in community, we are called to embrace others and ourselves amidst suffering, misunderstandings, and joy.
‘’You are challenged to become ‘experts’ in divine mercy precisely through your life in community. From experience I know that community life is not always easy, but it is a providential training ground for the heart. It is unrealistic not to expect conflicts; misunderstandings will arise and they must be faced. Despite such difficulties, it is in community life that we are called to grow in mercy, forbearance and perfect charity.’’–Pope Francis
By Elisa Raubach, a MissionCorps member