So, I recently posted this to my Facebook page:
I saw it in a friend’s Instagram feed and I had to share it because it’s so funny and true, right?!
But as the likes rolled in and the shares stack up, I started to wonder if it was actually true. I mean, did Mother Teresa complain about her thighs? Did she ever wish she was taller? That she had a smaller nose? Or a longer neck? Or bigger eyes, or whatever? Did she ever lament, even a little teeny bit, the lines on her face growing deeper, or the skin on the backs of her hands turning paper thin?
Yeah. I doubt it, too.
Given the nature and scope of her work, I think the meme is probably based in truth. Her life is so well documented, we can say with integrity that Mother Teresa wasn’t much of a complainer. We know she wasn’t distracted by silly, frivolous things, like outward appearances, and she didn’t believe in the accumulation of personal wealth or material possessions. So, I think we can safely assume she didn’t lay in bed at night reading magazine articles about eyebrow shaping and body hair removal. Plus, to be blunt, when you live among the starving and the dying, “thigh gap” means something completely different.
But part of me kind of hopes that, at least once in a while, she sat around with the other nuns after dinner or between vespers or whatever nuns do, remarking about the way human flesh turns to turkey skin in our old age, or comparing leg hair length, or standing side by side, wrapped in their matching cotton saris, for a friendly round of “Who Wore it Better?” — I love the idea mostly because it would be funny, but also because that’s what I would do.
I don’t think she did, but what if Mother Teresa hated her thighs? Would her good work be any less good? I guess I’d just like to believe it’s possible that that heroic, saintly lady and I could share this common thread of womanhood. Because I hate my thighs, I really do, and I don’t see that changing any time soon, but I want to get shit done.
Mother Teresa was a woman consumed by things that matter. And she got shit done.
I am a woman consumed by a contradictory mess of things (from unicorn poop to sex-trafficking, from materialistic wants to felt needs, from what is social to what is spiritual, from Instagram to the impoverished to Instagraming the impoverished. I can go from crying over our messy world to worrying over a messy bun in .02 seconds flat). And I’m getting almost zero shit done.
But maybe there’s still hope for a shallow, flippant, wannabe world-changer, like me. Because, while I believe that as a very young woman Mama T was consumed to the point of action, I wonder if maybe I could act to the point of consumption. Like, maybe for a while I can get shit done AND want to look good doing it. And maybe as I invest myself in what matters most, what matters most will intertwine itself in me. I’ve wasted too much time already being the chick who thinks she’s not worthy to do good work until she quits complaining about her thighs. So maybe it’s time for me to say “Fuck it. I’ve got shit to do”, and then go shave my legs, put on some makeup, blow dry my hair, change clothes three times, and get out there to serve.
My meme certainly won’t be as impressive or inspiring, but if I can help the next insecure, self-absorbed, easily distracted person get up, get fabulous, and get to work on making the world a better place, then my job here is done.