MaryBeth Eberhard defines the ideal of a missionary home: not only the physical doors are open, but the doors of our hearts as well.
Our family is so at peace right now, even in the middle of a world wide pandemic. One might think it is because our schedules have slowed down, or because we have had all this together time, and while those might be added graces in this pandemic, the truth is that we have found our mission and all feel very grounded in it. That sense of identity, knowing what your goal is as a family unit, is a solidifying grace. Through this pandemic, our family that is used to hosting and welcoming so many, has had to rediscover what being on mission truly looks like. It is not just the physical doors to our home that Christ calls us to open and welcome in the stranger, but more importantly the physical doors of our hearts.
For years, we have opened our doors and welcomed in those who needed a mother, father, sister, brother, grandchild, neighbor, or just a friend. We have walked alongside all these people and called them family and indeed they were and continue to be, though their stories weave in and out of time as many who enter our home, journey with us for awhile, and then take another path on their journey to Heaven.
This pandemic has challenged us to not be on mission but to go on mission. Being seems sedentary, too much like waiting. Going is like the great proclamation of evangelization. Go out and make disciples of all nations! And so we do! Person by person, each and every time we carry the light of Jesus to the world.
Recognizing that you are on mission means that the grocery store is never just an in and out experience, but rather an opportunity for encounter.
A missionary home raises disciples who as they grow, have hearts to see the joy, hurt and need of others and invite them into a relationship.
I have seen my children help others find healing and peace by first bringing a new friend into a relationship with them and then introducing them to the One who can truly heal and bring joy. I have shared moments with my older children where they realize what it means in that moment to be live the Gospel. They tangibly react to it and their gaze meets mine in an aha moment. It is a crazy beautiful kind of moment; one where you shake your head at the incredulousness of how it came to be, yet only Christ could bring it all about and put it together in this fashion!
I love reflecting back on all who have shepherded and been shepherded by us through the years. How youthful, hopeful, and how wide open our hearts were! How sometimes feelings of hurt and mistrust made us feel battered and bruised and tempted us to close our doors. “I want to be an isolationist country!” I would cry in a childlike hurt to my husband, and he would smile as he gently brushed away the hurts, hold us close, and open wide the doors of our hearts again.
Many who have walked with us have tried to carry our burdens and gotten burnt out by the load, for it was never theirs to carry in the first place. Harsh words and hurt feelings can lead to feelings of unworthiness and loss if we allow these emotions to access our spirit.
Through many years and much prayer, I have learned that growth comes from a deep gratitude for the path Christ has called us to and a constant striving to stay right in the thick of it.
The goals of a missionary home are to keep not only the doors to our physical home open, but the doors to our hearts as well. From drawings delivered on small bicycles to elderly shut-ins who can’t make it to Mass, to a bottle of pop dropped off to a young friend whose family is going through a rough time so they know they are not alone, walking alongside our kids in these new moments outside our home has allowed us to take mission and make it more active.
A heart for mission is a desire for an encounter with the Lord to always be at the forefront of every moment. May we all strive to do this with great virtue as many hearts can be won for the Lord in these authentic encounters.
Copyright 2020 MaryBeth Eberhard
Image: Pixabay (2016)
About the Author
MaryBeth Eberhard spends most of her time laughing as she and her husband of 22 years parent and school their eight children. She has both a biological son and an adopted daughter who have a rare neuromuscular condition called arthrogryposis and writes frequently about the life experiences of a large family and special needs. You can read more of her work at MaryBethEberhard.com.