A headline on the front page of Saturday's paper read "Letters Reveal Mother Teresa's Doubt." I read with interest because one of my friends (hi, Lindsay!) recently turned me onto Mother Teresa. Of course, I had heard of her before- who hasn't? But I had never read much about her life. I recently finished the book Reaching Out in Love which is a collection of short stories and quotes from her life. That woman is one of the best examples we have witnessed in our lifetime of someone really truly living out Jesus' call for self-sacrifice and love. However, the article reveals that she "struggled for 50 years with doubts about a faith she served so devotedly." And we're not talking small doubts. Some of the quotes they have from 66 years worth of her letters to superiors point to deep, dark, spiritual angst marked by a complete lack of communion with God. She wrote that she felt complete emptiness, and lack of faith. She called her own smile a "mask."
I've been thinking about this and a few things have come to mind. First, I appreciate knowing that someone living out the gospel so completely had trouble "feeling" God. It makes me feel better about my own doubts. Let's face it, I have some. My doubts probably stem from my own faults: lack of daily Bible reading, inconsistent prayer life, inability to love others in a selfless way. But doubts are doubts, and I love how she was able to "fake it until you make it," even if she never quite made it to the level of spiritual enlightenment that we would all like to achieve (which this article would imply). It shows that our journey is one of commitment, not emotion. Whether we feel God or not, we make a conscious decision to follow him, and act on his teachings because we believe it is the right thing to do. Secondly, it makes me admire her even more because I know how hard it is to keep doing something when it seems that God is being silent about it. I don't know why she felt so isolated from God when she was doing what he wanted her to do. It doesn't seem fair or right. But she believed in the big picture instead of trying to find her own personal happiness. She knew it wasn't all about her. I get caught up in my own desires, feelings, needs...she persisted even when she wasn't getting much out of it. She kept quietly serving day after day, year after year, and I am guessing she is reaping the reward now of intense closeness to God that she had longed for all those years on earth.