No, I’m not Catholic, but I’m quickly developing a fondness–actually something more akin to deep respect–for the servant Mother Teresa. Granted, the recently published book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday, 2007) has generated a fair amount of controversy over the her apparent deep bouts with doubt and discouragement. Though revered as a saint, she also struggled in her faith as she fought for the poor and broken in India. This appears to be threatening to some who believe the Christian faith can not withstand the humanity of one of her most ardent followers. I, on the other hand, find her doubts and struggles quite reassuring. She was–in the truest sense of the word–human after all. It is pure relief to this doubt-plagued, sometimes discouraged but, still, Christ-following woman.
I’ve only just begun to read this collection of her letters and thoughts, and, therefore, can’t make any definitive comments or judgments regarding the overall work. However, the little I have read stirs within me a desire to dive deeper into the heart of God and, hopefully, (though it will certainly require more internal wrestling matches), expand my heart’s capacity to truly love and serve the unlovely and outcast in our world.
I wrap up today’s words with a few borrowed ones from the afore-mentioned book. If you have a minute or two, I’d appreciate a few of yours added to the mix. Post your thoughts and I’ll be sure to respond.
I feel sometimes afraid, for I have nothing, no brains, no learning, no qualities required for such a work, and yet I tell Him that my heart is free from everything and so it belongs completely to Him, and Him alone. He can use me just as it will please Him best. To please Him only is the joy I seek.
–Mother Teresa (Kolodiejchuk, pg. 67)
I am amazed at her humility. One of the greatest humanitarians of our lifetime, and she felt insufficient? It encourages me too. Great post M!
I especially love this quote, “To please Him only is he joy I seek.” That is my prayer as well.
I agree … it is my desperate prayer too! Wouldn’t that change everything? If the only joy we sought and lived for was the joy of pleasing Him? Wow…I believe we’d find such incredible relief if we’d just cease all other pursuits to please others.
So refreshing to see she was human just like the rest of us and struggled in keeping her focus on Christ. What an encouragement! Thanks so much for sharing about this book.
So good to hear from you, Jerolyn…I’m so glad her words encouraged you, too. Reminds me that transparent authenticity is the only way to go. 🙂 How is sunny Florida, by the way??? I miss your smiling face!
I could be wrong, but I would hope all Christians long to be used by the Lord and seek to please Him.
Mother Teresa is an inspiration in her undying devotion to serve “the least” of God’s people. However, I take issue with denigrating the gifts God has given to us. And for her to speak so poorly of herself (I have no brains, no qualities), it sounds to me like she wasn’t acknowledging the amazing spiritual gifts bestowed upon her.
When I give someone a gift, I hope they value it and perhaps share it with friends and loved ones. Don’t you think God feels the same way? Shouldn’t we delight in the gifts He gives us and acknowledge them and share them? That’s just my humble opinion.
As Christian writers, don’t we acknowledge the gift of stringing words together comes from God for His ultimate glory? If we felt we had no brains and not the right education for crafting an article or a book, then wouldn’t that be like despising the gifting we’ve received? Aren’t we admonished not to put our light under a bushel?
My words are not meant in any way to diminish the work of that amazing servant of God. But we ought not despise the gifts we’ve been given.
I haven’t read this book… but I remember reading articles about it when it first came out. And I truly identified with a lot of it. I don’t know if she specifically references it in the book, but it’s totally dark night of the soul thing going on.
Thanks for your thoughts, Megan! Yes, I believe an attitude of celebration in the gifts God has given is good! (Ephesians 2:10)
Her words sound very similar to David’s when he said “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4). During (albeit brief) moments when I get “over myself” and capture a glimpse of God for who He really is, I can’t help but feel both a sense of unworthiness in His presence as well as a humbling awe that He would choose to use someone like me.
This knowledge of both my humanity and God’s divinity creates a tension within which cannot be resolved. It is a wonder around which I cannot wrap my mind! Though I wish I could say I have it all figured out, my humanity comes with a fair amount of self-doubt. I believe Mother Teresa’s words authentically portray something similar in her own journey, including the existence of both struggles and successes. And, quite honestly, this transparency is far more encouraging to this stumbling sojourner than if she had only portrayed a have-it-all-together plastic Christianity.
Regardless, we can celebrate that He does use us–even in our broken, unsure, doubt-riddled state! It is an incredible thought. And though I plan to enjoy Him and strive to live utterly secure in Him, I also don’t ever want to lose the the knee-bending wonder of it all.
I’ve had my share of “dark nights of the soul.” I’d guess most of us have…:) Isn’t it great to know that God’s choosing of us isn’t dependent on our deserving it? It really is–in every sense of the word–all about Him. This one fact truly sets us free to ENJOY Him and the journey.