Agnes Bojaxhiu had spent more than 8 hours walking among the poor and dying in northeast India. Like most days, she started by teaching kids how to read, though they had little more than a scrape of cloth wrapped around their mid-section. She gave some of the kids a good scrubbing when they arrived, and taught them about cleanliness. Then she gave all she had to those that were hungry, feeding herself last. The kids called her ma, which in their language means, mother. That was fine by her because the name she had taken when she vowed to live a life of simplicity and dedication to God was Mother Teresa.
After she was done teaching the kids, she walked through the slums to check on the people who lived in filthy, makeshift homes; trying to help them as best she could. Leprosy, tuberculosis and other contagious diseases were rampant, yet she went to them and cared because no one else would.
She remembered that some rich people said she wasn’t very smart, after hearing her teach. She recalled how doctors had told her she didn’t understand medicine very well. On these lonely walks back to her borrowed room, where she lived away from the traditional convent for nuns, she was tempted to go back to the convent. She saw more problems than she could solve, but this was her calling. It would be nice to go back to the security and friendships she had with the other sisters in Calcutta. She fought these feelings of fatigue and distress as she walked alone.
That night in her diary, she wrote:
“Our Lord wants me to be a free nun covered with the poverty of the cross. Today, I learned a good lesson. The poverty of the poor must be so hard for them. While looking for a home I walked and walked till my arms and legs ached. I thought how much they must ache in body and soul, looking for a home, food and health. Then, the comfort of Loreto [her former congregation] came to tempt me. ‘You have only to say the word and all that will be yours again,’ the Tempter kept on saying … Of free choice, my God, and out of love for you, I desire to remain and do whatever be your Holy will in my regard. I did not let a single tear come.”
Mother Teresa resolutely continued her service to the people in northeast India.
One day she came upon a woman who was clearly dying outside Campbell Hospital. The small Mother Teresa picked up the woman and carried her into the hospital. The hospital would not admit the dying woman because she was too poor. So Mother Teresa sat with her outside as she passed away. Heartbroken at the lack of help and respect for human life, she knew she had to create a place for the poor to come and die in respect, peace and love.
She was told she wasn’t very smart, but she was fluent in 5 languages. She was told she wasn’t a gifted healer, and yet she helped hundreds of people more than the doctors could because she loved them. She served the poor because no one cared about them. Before long she was admired all over the world for her kindness and charity.
One of the biggest threats to achieving your dreams is hearing people tell you, “You can’t do that because you aren’t ____!” Fill in the blank with whatever the excuse is. It’s tempting to believe it. They might even be right.
But when you make serving others an important part of your journey to your dream, you might realize you have more ability than you gave yourself credit for. For Mother Teresa, her goal of serving others outweighed her doubts and fears. Her love for God and the people motivated her to push through and keep going.
Who will you help by accomplishing your vision? Who will you aid that no one else could?
Service is the secret sauce that takes your journey to new heights.
Final quote: Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize. She declined to have a ceremony, but requested the money they saved for the banquet be used to help the poor. At that time, a reporter asked her, “What can we do to promote world peace?” She answered, “Go home and love your family.”
Loving and serving others will help bring peace more than power, money or government programs.