A book of letters written by Mother Teresa of Calcutta reveals for the first time that she was deeply tormented about her faith and suffered periods of doubt about God.
“Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear,” she wrote to the Reverend Michael van der Peet in September 1979.
…”I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God – tender, personal love,” she wrote to one adviser. “If you were (there), you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy’.”
Reading this makes me feel both encouraged and discourged. Encouraged that she was just like me. And discouraged that she was just like me. (I should qualify ‘just like me’. I am not devoting my life to poor people in Calcutta. But ‘like me’ in suffering periods of doubt.)
Do we want our saints, our heroes, to be so sure of their faith that it makes us think they – and, by extension, we – must be right? Or do we want them to be vulnerable like us? Struggling along?
I doubted a lot when I was seventeen, eighteen. I thought it would never end. It did. For seven years after that, I experienced God in a way that made me feel strong in my faith. I had found something amazing, and I had no problem believing it. And then, in the last year, the doubts have come back. And sometimes I think they will never end. But then – in small ways – over the last week I’ve been experiencing God in fresh ways.