Mother Theresa - Step three personified

Over the past couple of months I've found myself thinking about Mother Teresa a lot.  A few years ago I watched a movie about her called The Letters.  I was very surprised to learn that during the last half of her life, deep down inside, she felt completely cut off from the Lord, lost in a dark spiritual fog.  I can understand why I am in darkness, but how on earth can someone as amazing as Mother Teresa feel cut off from God?  She was extremely Christlike - shouldn't she have basically been bathed in the Spirit her whole life?

Well, that's kind of what the first half of her life were like.  She felt united with Jesus.  She felt His presence.  She wrote about being in love with Him and being his "little spouse." She wrote that she would give everything, including her life, for Him.  She had conversations with Him about the ministry He wanted her to start, and she even had some visions.  She loved and trusted Him so much that she vowed to do whatever He told her to do.

But during the last half of her life (44 years!), except for one 5-week period where she felt bathed in God's love, she felt completely cut off from Him.  During this time of her life she wrote many letters to her superiors where she mentioned her inner darkness.  An excerpt from a prayer she wrote:
"Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love—and now become as the most hated one—the one—You have thrown away as unwanted—unloved. I call, I cling, I want—and there is no One to answer—no One on Whom I can cling—no, No One.—Alone … Where is my Faith—even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness—My God—how painful is this unknown pain—I have no Faith—I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart—& make me suffer untold agony. So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them—because of the blasphemy—If there be God—please forgive me—When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven—there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul.—I am told God loves me—and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul."
Since finishing step 2, I've also been thinking a lot about step 3 - giving your life and will to the Lord.  Mother Teresa has been an incredible example to me of one who has given herself, heart and soul, to Him.  As I read her letters, I was amazed at how devoted she was to God despite feeling spiritually forsaken.
"There is so much contradiction in my soul.—Such deep longing for God—so deep that it is painful—a suffering continual—and yet not wanted by God—repulsed—empty—no faith—no love—no zeal. … Heaven means nothing—to me it looks like an empty place—the thought of it means nothing to me and yet this torturing longing for God. … I am only His—so He has every right over me. I am perfectly happy to be nobody even to God. …"
"I long for God—I want to love Him—to love Him much—to live only for love of Him—to love only—and yet there is but pain—longing and no love. … All these things were so natural to me before—until Our Lord came fully in my life—I loved God with all the powers of a child's heart. He was the centre of everything I did & said.—Now Father—it [is] so dark, so different and yet my everything is His—in spite of Him not wanting me, not caring as if for me. .. .My heart & soul & body belongs only to God—that He has thrown away as unwanted the child of His Love.—And to this, Father, I have made that resolution in this retreat—To be at His disposal. Let Him do with me whatever He wants, as He wants, for as long as He wants."
"If there is hell—this must be one. How terrible it is to be without God—no prayer—no faith—no love. ... I do not ask Him to change His attitude towards me or His plans for me.—I only ask Him to use me."
"All these years I have only wanted one thing—to know and do the Will of God. And now even in this hard and deep darkness—I keep on wanting only that. The rest He has taken all—and I think, He has destroyed everything in me—The only thing that keeps me on the surface—is obedience."
She wrote once that she was willing to feel forsaken for eternity if that's what He wanted.  That is some serious commitment to her vow!

Now it's time for me to give my will and life to the Lord.  It's scary.  Mother Teresa gave her will to Him during a time in her life when she felt perfectly united with Him, and kept that vow faithfully despite feeling spiritually forsaken.  Am I to give my will to Him when, despite my best efforts, I don't feel like I really know Him?

Two final quotes from her letters that I thought were too good to leave out.

"Jesus wants me to tell you again … how much is the love He has for each one of you—beyond all what you can imagine. … Not only He loves you, even more—He longs for you. He misses you when you don't come close. He thirsts for you. He loves you always, even when you don't feel worthy. … Until you know deep inside that Jesus thirsts for you—you can’t begin to know who He wants to be for you. Or who He wants you to be for Him."

"Your longing for God is so deep and yet He keeps Himself away from you. He must be forcing Himself to do so—because He loves you so much—the personal love Christ has for you is infinite."

Starting over - a personal experience with Step One (and Three)

Last night I came to the realization that despite all of the changes I've made in my life during the past 16 months, despite all the good things I've done and bad things I've stopped doing, I am still not much more spiritually better off than I was when I first woke up.  I have been trying to perfect myself, to improve myself, leaning on my own understanding, relying on my own arm of flesh.  They were good changes, but they were made because it was my will to make them, not God's.  As a result they haven't been too efficacious.  I had a friend warn me about this twice in the last year, but I didn't listen.  I thought those changes were part of "all [I] can do."

It's a painful lesson to learn, especially after this long.  I'm trying not to berate myself over lost time.  The last 16 months haven't been a complete waste of time -- they taught me this lesson.  I found my passion.  I heard Jesus call my name.

So as of today I renounce all changes I made due to my own will, with a few exceptions.  I'll continue to blog (because starting a blog was definitely His will, not mine).  I'll continue to study the scriptures and pray.  I'll continue to serve.  I'll do the things He explicitly has asked me to do.  And I'll make the changes He asks me to make by seeking to know and do His will instead of my own.  (Something I'll talk more about when I cover Steps Three and Eleven...)