I remember the big hullabaloo when Mother Teresa’s personal diary was published. People were so distraught that amid decades of staggering poverty and suffering, this saint could have experienced moments of faith crisis and struggle!
I wonder if she listened from heaven and regretted putting those thoughts down with on paper. Or maybe she didn’t give a rip and said, “They had it comin’! Who did they think I was anyway?!”
But here was this tiny, mighty lady (my dad introduced me to her when I was 14 and I’ll never forget her), who spent her every day with the destitute. The terminally ill and alone and orphaned and hungry… in a city where destitution seemed to never end.
So here was this little Albanian woman who took it upon herself to serve the poor with such integrity and strength that an entire order of sisters and many volunteers and staff joined her for decades until she died.
And yet her darkest thoughts with the very real, violent darkness around her were hidden in a diary, and proved to disappoint us after her death.
We have such mixed emotions about being human.
I wonder at the thousands who pour our their guts on public forums today… guts that would previously have been hidden in a private journal for reflection before being promoted across the internet.
I’m glad we have more freedom to be truthful. It provides space for the communicator and the reader to connect and then to provide more support, resources and education for one another.
But if my goal accidentally becomes growing my social media presence, and choosing more vulnerability than I would do face-to-face, then dear friends, I am selling my soul.
I wonder what Mother Teresa would have chosen to share (if she had been encouraged to do so). I wonder how different it would have been, how meaningful for her and enriching for the reader, to realize the humanity of such a saint. I imagine this could have happened after she reflected and prayed about what to post.
So here’s my exhortation to us all, after reflecting on the horrendous oppression of being “human” in our past, and the abuse of public forum and honesty today.
For those of us over 35, let’s keep stretching our authentic muscle, choosing “human”, sharing hard lessons we have learned.
And for younger ones, don’t forfeit your real-time friends and mentors for comments and likes. Don’t forget to write on paper too.
I am still learning what needs to go in my journal and what needs to go viral.
So let’s remember Mother Teresa. Let’s commit together to changing the world, but being human too. Both the world and we will be happier for it.