The public and the private

June 6, 2009

April and May seem like a blur. We’ve been busy around here and that explains, in part, why I haven’t been posting. However, I must admit that even when I could’ve taken the time, I haven’t felt the inclination to write. Instead I’ve been reading and journaling a lot. It seems I do this periodically; I abandon the blogging world and keep my thoughts to the private pages of my journal.

I came across something while reading the writings of Mother Teresa that gave some measure of meaning to my periodic absence from the blogging world.  While talking with a fellow sister about the “inspiration” behind the initial call to serve the poor of Calcutta, Mother Teresa said this: …it is very difficult to explain…When you make it public it loses its sanctity.

That last sentence says so much. There is line to be drawn between being “transparent” in an effort to share your thoughts or parts of your life to minister, teach or connect with another and holding close to the vest those things which God has spoken to your heart for the sake of your piety journey and relationship with him. When guided by the Holy Spirit, the former can be a powerful lever in the life of another. But like Mother Teresa says, the latter, when made public, seems to lose its sanctity.

That quote seems fitting coming from her. Despite all the publicity she received she was a very private person.  She often requested of those with whom she regularly corresponded to get rid of her letters. She was a humble woman who probably never imagined her simple letters and words would be used by God to inspire others after her death.

Now, to be sure, nothing in my life even remotely resembles the inspiration or call that Mother Teresa received but I can identify with her words. Writing can be therapeutic for me but not everything ought to be written about. There are seasons for sharing one’s story or what God is teaching you. But, not every story or lesson is meant to be shared. We live in a world that let’s it all hang out, where the line between what is public and private is easily blurred. But the line does exist. And that line should protect the sanctity of what we privately hold sacred.


To Refuse Him Nothing

February 25, 2009

Tomorrow is  Ash Wednesday. Hard to believe it’s the end of February and Lent is already here.

Lately, I’ve found myself re-visiting the writings of Mother Teresa as well as her Patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux. I think I did the same thing last year at the beginning of Lent. It must have something to do with how these two women truly understand what self-abandonment and sacrificial love mean. They were both so in love with Jesus that they held nothing back from Him. Their lives on earth were testaments to what it means to die to one’s self-love and personal desires in order to love him and the people around them. Mother Teresa even made a vow in this regard; a vow to refuse Him nothing.

On the surface it sounds so simple. How often I’ve said I will surrender everything to God. The words are easy to speak but to live them, to abandon myself so completely that I refuse Him nothing nor resist Him in any way, that’s another thing entirely. 

I want to love Him so much that I would do His will no matter the cost to my pride, my plans, my comfort, my deepest desires. But, the truth is I am weak and more often than not I wrestle with God before I finally submit to his will. I have journals full of conversations with God that reveal just how hard my flesh will fight to hold onto what it desires. Over the years I’ve learned to give up and go fewer rounds with God but sadly my selfish resistence often results in sin that comes in the form of  missed opportunities to love others.  These small opportunities to love are the very thing that Mother Teresa was convinced Jesus wanted most from us.

To the good God nothing is little…He stoops down and takes the trouble to make those little things for us–to give us a chance to prove our love for him…Yes my dear children, be faithful in little practices of love, of little sacrifices–of the little interior mortification–of little fidelities which build in you the life of holiness and make you Christ-like…So do not look for big things, just do small things with great love. (Mother Teresa)

As I think about Lent and the ways in which I might sacrifice during this season my spirit wants to refuse Him nothing. I want to stop wrestling with God and submit my will the first time He asks (in the big stuff and the small stuff).  My flesh, however, is another story.  This makes giving up dessert and Blue Moon look like a piece of cake (bad pun fully intended).

Actually, this isn’t something I would want to say lightly to God. It’s only by grace that any of us even desire to surrender and it’s only by grace that we ever choose His will over our own selfish desires. So as I begin my Lenten journey I think I’ll start by asking for grace–the grace to learn what it means to die to self for the next forty days (and the rest of my life).  


Inspiration and Intimidation

February 13, 2008

I’m reading Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C.).

I’m so convicted and humbled by the heart and life of this incredible woman of God.  My post about what my flesh wants to give up for Lent is ridiculous in light of the life of sacrifice this woman lived. All my fleshly complaints are pitiful.

This book is full of her private writings which this humble servant requested be destroyed time and time again. I’m grateful her spiritual directors chose not to destroy them and had the wisdom to know that her writings would one day be a gift of great inspiration to the Church. 

In light of her incredible humility and passion for Christ’s glory and his glory alone I have to laugh at my feeble attempts to make a record of some of my faith journey for my girls. As I read about Mother Teresa I am at once inspired to live a more holy and fully surrendered life while at the same time intimidated by her complete self-abandonment and willingness to suffer in order to live and share the gospel. If I had but an ounce of the love she has for Jesus…

My Jesus, I can only begin where I am. Take me and transform me. Give me the grace to obey your call to be holy and to love like you love.