I'm currently reading "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light" by Brian Koloddiejchuk. It's a collection of her private letters, including her long and intense struggle against spiritual darkness and emptiness, which the world never could have imagined. If you're not familiar with it, I encourage you to check it out. I've only just started it, but her story just humbles me to the point that I can barely look at myself in the mirror, as I knew it would. I have my days where I feel like I'm living in a spiritual desert, but I'm not sweating away my days in poverty, tending to the sick and dying in a place like Calcutta. It definitely puts things into perspective.
Back in the days when I wanted to become a Mormon nun, I was definitely more pious and conservative than I am now. I was probably more concerned about rules and following them, than about the reasons behind them. I've always had that dissident streak within me and I did ask questions, but I was more content with the belief that if I just did everything I was told to do, then I couldn't go wrong. I'm not that trusting anymore, which either means I'm not so naive or that I've let pride get the better of me.
One of the reasons that I found a nun's life so appealing (and in a way still do) was that I felt that a person who takes that route and is able to dedicate their life completelely (Mother Teresa being the best example I can think of) to a cause that Christ would undoubtedly approve of, would be guaranteed a one-way first class ticket to Heaven. Basically, a huge sacrifice resulting in an even bigger reward. Mother Teresa gave up a happy and comfortable life with a family that she loved in order to travel abroad by boat at age 18 to become a missionary, and then a nun, to places that she probably knew very little about, all the well knowing that she would probably never see her family again. Indeed, she never saw her mother or sister again. Those were the days before plane travel, web cams, and Skype, which makes it all the more mind-blowing to me.
When you read about someone like Mother Teresa, you start to question the value of your own life -- or at least what you do with it. Sure, we can do good deeds on a daily basis. But is it enough? Is the Lord satisfied with our input into making this world a better place? Mother Teresa obeyed the call that she felt she was given, to literally sacrifice her life for the absolute bottom of society's pit and all the while feeling like God had abandoned or rejected her, which shows the strength of her faith on an even deeper level. Why doesn't God call us to make that kind of sacrifice? Or maybe he does and we're just ignoring it? That's something that I've always wondered and it's perhaps the main reason for my wanting to become a nun. After all, who has done more to help the hungry, thirsty, sick, and lonely than Mother Teresa besides Christ himself? She has set the ultimate example for Christlike love, compassion, charity and all at the same time enduring to the end while feeling she had so little to go on. For that reason, I think she will always be the person that I admire most.
In conclusion, I hope that Mother Teresa did get that one-way first class ticket to Heaven. But if any of us Mormons find her to be waiting outside the Pearly Gates without a ticket while we're on our way through, I for one would feel compelled to give her mine.