Many times along my reading/writing journey, I have come across the question “If you could talk to anyone from history, past or present, who would it be?” This week brought that question back to me.
Mother Teresa was always my answer; that has never changed. I even knew what I would want to talk about and how I thought the conversation might go. After reading plenty of her writings, I no longer know.
As someone who has had a lot of life experience and suffered much, I’ve always admired the life Mother Teresa chose for herself, the work she did, and her devotion to both. That requires a heart, discipline, and strength I cannot fathom. That is the most selfless and simplistic way to live. Perhaps that’s why it was so fulfilling for her.
I have always believed to help yourself crawl out of the darkness (if you can), it is best to help someone else. It’s easy to forget your troubles if you’re concerned with someone else’s–even if for only a short time.
I always pictured myself
sitting on a bench with Mother Teresa, asking her for prayers and advice, not only for my life but also for help with the people around me, strangers and acquaintances alike. I would ask her how to serve the people here and in turn help myself. Living a life of servitude and gaining decades of Godly wisdom, I was sure she’d know. But in one of her books of wisdom, she made this point:
“But in the West you have another kind of poverty, spiritual poverty. This is far worse. People do not believe in God, do not pray. People do not care for each other. You have the poverty of people who are dissatisfied with what they have, who do not know how to suffer, who give in to despair. This poverty of heart is often more difficult to relieve and to defeat.”
Now I understand why so many (even here) choose to do their missionary work in other parts of the world. It’s easier to help the poor who need food, clothing, and shelter than it is to help those with first-world problems. I won’t get into the issues we have here because I am deeply depressed enough. But you can figure them out if you think about it. We can all come to one conclusion: spiritual poverty is the worst.
Reading these words from Mother Teresa was helpful but not comforting in any way. It’s a much more difficult task to help and serve people here than it is where basic needs and human dignity are what people lack. It is much more difficult to understand the sufferings of those who are spiritually poor. How can I understand the poverty of others when I can’t understand it for myself?
I believe in God. And I will shamefully but honestly admit I am not satisfied with what I have–not so much with what I have but more so with where I am. I am impatient and painfully bored. I don’t do well with free time, and I don’t know what to do. I feel stuck. This is not where I want to be. I’ve seen this deep, dark hole more than I care to admit, and I’ve done a fair amount of stupid things to try and get myself out of it/here.
I am often forgetful. I’ve lived through many things I shouldn’t have, witnessed several miracles, and been blessed beyond my wildest expectations.
I remember crying hysterically in my car one October night, wondering how the hell I was going to pay for the place in which I was sleeping. I was angrier than I had ever been and in a rage for being thrown into that situation by someone who should love me unconditionally. I remember crying on the steering wheel then looking up to notice how bright the moon was that night. It shone brighter than the sun. Even the stars were twinkling more than usual. And it stopped. The angry/rage crying stopped. The worry stopped. The moon reminded me that even in darkness there is still light. Everything worked itself out eventually. God took care of it.
Now I can’t say I know what I’d talk to Mother Teresa about if given the chance, but I’d certainly ask for some prayers over my life and any wisdom she may have for me. And I believe she’d have something.
And I would try to remember the many ways God has taken me from a place of hopelessness and despair to victory and peace. He has before, and I must believe he will again.
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)
Friends, in your sufferings and struggles, try to remember the details of those situations aren’t the big picture. Being saved from them is.
May God continue to save us from ourselves and each other. Amen.