Monday, January 3, 2011

Even Mother Teresa Wasn't "Mother Teresa"

There are days when our best efforts fail. Days when we simply don't measure up. It hurts . . . and we feel undone, unworthy . . . hopeless.

"I can't do it," we whisper to ourselves, bowing our heads in defeat. "I'm no Mother Teresa. I'm just me."

We compare ourselves, in fact, we compare our weakest selves, to an image, a standard, an epitome of what we believe God wants. What we believe others want. What WE want. What we expect of ourselves. Falling short of that image, that expectation is crushing. The yearning in the gap is soon filled with shame, frustration and self-loathing.

A book opens, tattered pages, dirty, smudged ink . . . a line can be read . . . "Where is my faith? Even deep down ... there is nothing but emptiness and darkness ... If there be God — please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul ... How painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith. Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal, ... What do I labor for?"

A journal found. Could this be your journal?

This journal was written by an elderly woman dying of heart failure. A woman whose life changed the world.

You see, Mother Teresa felt she'd failed. She felt her best efforts to be trivial, empty, rejected. Her concerns, her yearning in the gap, she wrote about in journals and she shared fears with her spiritual leaders.

Mother Teresa never saw herself as THE "MOTHER TERESA". She saw herself as simply Teresa _ underscore. Not Mother Teresa, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, legend, relief to the millions of dying, rescuer of the unborn, global epitome of compassion and mercy.

The woman we revere as having the most noble and strong heart, died of a weakened heart . . . and with heavy personal fears of failure before God.

Her writings were to be destroyed by her wishes. She felt her failings and flaws would hinder others, not inspire them.

Seeing her "real-ness" does just the opposite. Knowing that Mother Teresa wasn't even "Mother Teresa" reminds me that perfection can be a pursuit that undermines true strength, true beauty, true faith. Our own perceptions and expectations can blind us and rob us of joy and any feelings of fulfillment about our lives and our passions. A standard that breaks us is not the standard or expectation created by a loving, kind, compassionate Father in heaven.

A Savior and Redeemer would not be needed if sheer perfection through drive could be achieved. It can't.

Let God fill the gap between the ideal and reality. That gap is only as wide as His outstretched arms on the cross. It has been covered. Bridged. Trust that.

Even Mother Teresa wasn't "Mother Teresa".