“My Mission of being in the heart of the people is not just a part of life or a badge I can take off; it is not an “extra” or just another moment in life. Instead, it is something I cannot uproot from my being without destroying my very self. I AM MISSION ON THIS EARTH” Pope Francis
Diana: When I first read this quote by Pope Francis about Mission, I automatically thought of the times in college I traveled to other states and countries to share my story and my faith. I have been on missions like this several times in my life. Oftentimes, this is the sort of mission people think about when they hear about “going on mission,” but I don’t think the Holy Father’s message is about, or solely about, this sort of mission. These were important and life changing experiences for me, but it wasn’t until I got married that I finally understood what it truly means to live out daily “mission on this earth.”
Mission is not a destination or a place far away. Mission is always happening, right now in this moment. I can ask myself, “what am I doing right now to live my mission?” I can’t just say “now I am eating or relaxing. When I am done, I’ll get back to the mission.” I have to always be striving to be living out MY mission in this world. The purpose of mission always stays the same: to witness to the love of Christ, to help bring others to realize and experience that love, and, ultimately, to help lead souls to heaven. BUT, the way we live out this mission will change throughout life.
Living out my mission right now is living my vocation, my marriage. On our wedding day, Jon and I vowed to stay true to each other, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. To love and honor all the days of our lives. When I say my marriage is our mission, I mean our daily life together is literally our mission field. Part of my mission is to be the best wife and mother I can be, and Jon is called to be the best husband and father he can be. With our commitment to each other, and our life-giving marriage, God has given us each other so we can continually work on our love and serve as a witness to each other, to our kids, and to the world.
Pope Francis says that mission is “being in the heart of the people.” For me, that means we put God first and then each other. Then, and in that order, as an extension of our first promise to each other, our three boys. This sounds like a beautiful dream, right? Living out our mission on a daily basis? Yeah, I think it does too but, in reality, it's hard work. It means loving Jon and doing things for him or with him when I am tired, moody or feeling like doing ANYTHING else. It also means encouraging him and calling him to more when he is distracted, tired or struggling. It is where our “yes” to our mission needs to really be lived, and hopefully our love for God and our faith will guide us. We both came into marriage with a lot of brokenness and quickly realized in our first months and years as newlyweds that our marriage was going to require a lot of work. Maybe I knew that going in, but it still caught me off guard. Knowing that this was our mission field, our mission, and that God brought us together to live that mission together by continually say “yes” is comforting because it gives us direction and feeds our perseverance.
Jon: This is always true of mission. When you know and realize that you were created for something more, it makes pain and suffering and daily struggles so much more joyful. When I was young, how I lived out my mission wasn’t in love and sacrifice for my wife. I wasn’t married. It could (should) have been in being a good friend, or in working hard at school, or in standing up for those too weak to stand up for themselves, or choosing the good and beautiful, rather than just following the crowd. And I say “should” because I didn’t live out my mission very well as a child, teenager or young adult, mostly because I didn’t know better. I was easily distracted and led by the wrong things. I spent my time and energy just trying to fit in or doing what everyone else was doing, or what they wanted me to be or do.
Now as a husband and father, it's so easy to get lost in my phone, or a thousand other things. None of which do anything to help me be a better husband or father. When my phone distracts me, and my kids need me, it's as if they are bothering me. My boys are BOTHERING me from being distracted by my phone. Thinking about this makes me feel like I’m crazy. My phone can’t be more important than my kids. And worse, these sorts of distractions don’t allow me to live out my mission, to be true to myself, true to who God created me to be and the man I need to be.
How can I lead and love and be a witness while I am buried in my phone? Realizing my mission helps me to fight the temptations that distract me and do as Jesus does in Matthew 16:23 when he says, “get behind me Satan.” That is what is real. Get behind me Satan. Get behind me distractions and temptations and laziness. Get behind me so I can have my eyes set on the face of Christ, and be the man, true to myself and who He created me to be, to love life in the struggle and Joy of living my daily mission. Pope Francis is reminding us and calling us to live out our mission in all that we do. We hope and pray that we can continue to say yes and truly live this out through all the ups and downs that life continues to bring.