Mother Teresa rose to fame in the hearts and minds of people around the world for her charity work. She has broken religious boundaries by exuding so much love that she is impossible to ignore. Likewise, regardless of religion, we can all benefit from being a little bit more like her. I bet you are already thinking that Mother Teresa has absolutely nothing to do with your life after graduation. And you'd be right- unless you continue to read.
"What was she like?" bright-eyed Brittney DeWinne urged The Sisters of Charity.
Brittney, a young woman who graduated from Texas A&M in 2014, used to get comments about how big her heart is and how it resembles Mother Teresa's. She then got the feeling that Mother Teresa started following her. In fact, on a mission trip to Honduras to help impoverished women and children, Brittney looked up to see an unexpected, giant street mural of Mother Teresa looking down in her direction. This sparked an interest in her that eventually led to reading every book she wrote, and finally, speaking with the Sisters of Charity who worked with Mother Teresa in the flesh.
"She was amazing," they answered.
"Tiny, humble," they continued. She lived and breathed service. Love was her entire life essence. Her mission was to show love to those that are broken, unloved, uncared for, and forgotten – left on the streets as a burden to society. This was manifested in large ways, such as providing education to children, and small ways, such as simply looking at someone and smiling, acknowledging their existence. To someone who spends day in and day out being walked past like trash on the street, even something as miniscule as eye contact can restore their sense of humanity.
She completely devoid herself of ego and devoted her life to serving others and showing the marginalized that they are still human and they are inherently worthy of love. This kind of service is radical.
What does this have to do with you?
I'm not saying you have to go volunteer to feed the homeless. Picture your friends. Imagine if you were so full of love for those around you that you lived in service to your friends: you make sure they get home safe every night, you constantly ask them what they need, you never stop giving, and giving, and giving and loving.
"People aren't used to having good friends that give that kind of love. It's not the norm," Brittney explained. "So, when I try to be more loving with my friends, they say it's 'too much' and 'this is overwhelming' because society tells us so. But that’s what He calls of us: to love. So I keep loving because He keeps loving us."
It's sad that I know exactly what she means. I've had to tone down how much love I give my friends, too, and now it has me wondering, is this normal? Do we all have really big hearts we've been conditioned to not show? What’s wrong with radical love?
What if we created a society full of Mother Teresas? What if after college graduation you change the world? What if this generation starts a movement so radical that it would not be weird to love your friends as much as you wanted to? What if we replaced the stigma of "too much" with "not enough?"
The service you give is not enough.
The love you give is not enough.
The affection you show is not enough.
The changes you are making are not enough.
How many times do we restrain ourselves from walking with a smile because it is not the norm? How many times do we walk past the homeless on our streets avoiding all possible eye contact? How many times do we forget about our friends' problems minutes after they tell us? How many times do we remember, and then gossip about it the next day? Too many.
How can Mother Teresa's life of service inspire your life after graduation?
The first thing you must note is that you do not have to take a year off to go on mission trips and volunteer in order to make a global impact. Start with where you are, right now. Begin to think about how you can love your friends better. Can you listen to them more? Can you smile at them more genuinely? Can you be less negative, less judgmental? Then, your family. Can you cook for them? Clean? Call and make sure they are safe and feeling well? Then, coworkers. Can you ask them about their weekend, or their breakfast? Can you affirm them more, and show gratitude for the work they do?
Be loving towards those you know. Once this becomes more natural to you, you will find it much easier to be loving towards those you don't know. You can be of small service to strangers by helping them grab something they can't reach, holding doors, pushing their elevator button, smiling, and wishing them a good day. Once it becomes natural for you to love those you don't know, it will be much easier to love those that have been marginalized by society, left to "live" on the streets because no one wants them.
When you start to be of service to others, you will notice your talents and strengths. Use these to figure out what kind of service you would like to give back to the word in terms of a career. Since graduation is approaching for many, I urge you to reframe your job hunt to think in terms of how you can be of service with your unique strengths and talents. What good can you bring to the world, and what company or line of work will allow you to thrive in order to help others?
Mother Teresa would say “I thirst.” The nun lived thirsting to love God and be loved by Him which manifested in loving others. She would tell you to thirst for Him too in all that you do. She would ask you to be His light and give His love, even in the workforce, especially in the workforce.
Your acts of service and words of affirmation to loved ones, on campus, and in the workplace, will have a ripple effect that will make a lasting global impact. Love begets more love. It is a chain reaction, but it must start somewhere. Let Mother Teresa inspire your life after graduation by teaching you to grow in humility so that together as an entire society, and only then will this movement work, we can actually normalize love and service.
A huge thanks to Brittney DeWinne for providing invaluable insight and information on Mother Teresa during our interview!
About the Guest Author:
Olivia Lucero is a writer for Mend, The #1 Breakup App (letsmend.com) and a freedom and self-empowerment coach for people struggling with love. She has a personal development blog @ freereinsblog.com. You can also follow her adventures as a farmer in Ireland @freereinsblog on Instagram. She graduated from UT Austin earlier this year. Hook 'em horns!