About three weeks ago, I was preaching a sermon with the line “The Great Commission is not only a life’s calling for the Mother Theresa’s of faith, but also those of us who doubt…” Well, it turns out that the cultural perspective that Mother Theresa was the zeinth of solid unshakable Christian faith has been misguided.
Personal letters, which she never intended to be read publicly, have recently been released (and if you watch the fluffy parts of the Today Show, past 7:15am, you saw the public reading of these letters). In them, she describes her own battles with emptiness and doubts, and how from 1948 until her death she struggled with the conviction of her faith.
It should not be surprising that a woman who poured her life into her missionary work would come across times of emptiness as she probably received very little support from her peers; could you imagine giving religious advice to Mother Theresa.
Hearing that she would sometimes intentionally hide behind her smile as a mask, I was, however, concerned about the plastic facade we often force the faithful to put on. We place them on a pedestal expecting them to carry the weight of certainity and “absolute truth” no matter where God’s journey of life takes them. It is no wonder that she wanted these personal doubts to remain unspoken to people. But perhaps their revelation will help bolster more people’s faiths (doubts and all) as we realize that even the stallwarts of the Christian faith are able to sacrifice and serve God even when they have seasons–or in her case, possibly decades–of doubt.