When I was approached with the challenge of spreading love like Mother Teresa for a day, I immediately agreed! Here’s a woman who lived selflessly and gave her love without measure. I couldn’t wait to try it out for myself. Here’s how my day turned out…
“Peace begins with a smile.” ― Mother Teresa
5:00 am: This was my morning prayer. I repeated it to myself again and again until I felt the warmth of her words begin to radiate from the center of my chest. This was my goal for today — to find small ways to love my neighbor. To smile at everyone I could. To speak only if it improved the silence. This was the day I would spread love like Mother Teresa.
6:00 am: The beep of my card being scanned as I walk through the gym door jolts me out of a daze. I am tired this morning, and my eyes feel like they have dumbbells attached to them. I look up at the front desk girl as she stares at her phone. I pause before rushing by her, “Good morning.” I say, and smile. She smiles back. This is easy, I could do this all day.
“God doesn’t require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.” — Mother Teresa
I walk by countless people. All look away as I attempt to catch their eye. I keep smiling, even as they look away. I begin to realize that this is uncomfortable for me. That I must normally avoid eye contact as well. I realize that we are all hiding behind our own walls, all the while trying to fit in and feel loved even though we are terrified we will be judged in the process. My efforts feel wasted. Every person I have attempted to connect with this morning has hidden themselves away.
All but one, a girl doing deadlifts over in front of one of the mirrors. I walk over to the bench next to her and sit down. I glance at her and she catches me. I smile. Miraculously, she holds my gaze and returns the gesture. I feel the connection! I pull the headphone out of my right ear, “Solid lifts” I say as I quickly put my earbud back in. She beams. She then turns back to the mirror and I catch her sneak in a smirk and nod of approval at herself before she begins her next set. I watched as the love I gave entered her and allowed her to return it to herself.
I feel that warmth swell in my chest again. She was the only genuine connection I made while I was there. But I kept trying. Mother Teresa did not give to receive. She gave to give.
11:00 am: Work seemed like a whole new challenge. Gossip and complaints generally seem to be the only things discussed here. So, today I am committing only to speaking when necessary, so long as it improves upon the silence.
As I walk into work I begin repeating my next two prayers from Mother Teresa: “Spread the love of God through your life but only use words when necessary,” and “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
The woman I am working with begins to rattle off her list of complaints, almost as if on cue. I am able to disengage. I notice my inclination to want to participate. Not because I agree with her, but because I want to fit in. Next, I notice myself judging her for talking about other people (only because I am not joining in). I remind myself that Mother Teresa saw everyone as her brother and sister. I look at her this way and then encourage myself to look deeper. Suddenly, I see someone who is simply starving: Hungry for joy, for purpose, for love, for acceptance, for peace. I see her complaints and her gripes differently than I usually do. I see them as attempts to connect. So once again today I take my armor off. I smile at her, a real smile. I feel the kindness in my eyes and a love that’s genuine.
6:30 pm: I pull into my parent’s house returning home. I have a headache and my body feels stiff and I just feel off. I aim to walk right through the door, grab my dinner and head up to my room. As I barrel through the garage door leading into the kitchen, I set my bags down on the white tile. My mom’s there.
“No,” I think, “She’s gonna want to talk.” I walk over to the refrigerator and pull out leftovers to heat them up. I sit down to eat it, lost in my own world. I hear my mom’s voice as if off in the distance. My mind is screaming “I DON’T WANT TO TALK RIGHT NOW!” But then, I remember reading something Mother Teresa had said about the work we do at home. I remind myself to look later and refocus my purpose. I take my next piece of armor off. I listen to my mother. I nod as she recounts the details her day. I remain fully present and I feel the connection between us build. As I finish my dinner and walk to the sink, she looks at me softly and says “Thank you for talking to me.” She gives me a quick hug before walking away.
I walk up the stairs and jump on my computer.
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” ― Mother Teresa
8:55 pm: It’s been a long day. I fall backward onto my bed as my lungs push out the breath I had been holding for what seems like an hour. I begin to wonder if I did enough. If smiling at others and listening to them had anything to do with Mother Teresa or how she would spread love.
I lay there… staring at the ceiling. As the chatter quiets a series of thought enter my mind.
I set out this morning thinking I was going to make OTHER people happy by spreading love. But what I found were countless walls inside of ME that kept me from giving it out. What I found were opportunities to open up. At the end of the day, I connected with very few people. And yes, those few people mattered, but what mattered most was the realization that Mother Teresa’s message had a deeper meaning in feeding the hungry and helping the poor. What she tells us, softly and serenely, in example and in practice is, you cannot begin to love your neighbor if you do not first open up your own front door.
I spread love like Mother Teresa for an entire day. It wasn’t easy. I felt uncomfortable and vulnerable. But at the end of the day, I realized that maybe I could stand to open up my front door more often. For it is not the grand gestures that change the world. In fact, it is the smallest ones, that begin with ourselves, that do that.
“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” ― Mother Teresa
By Kristen Hubbard
Kristen Hubbard is a writer, blogger and wellness coach. She has a diverse background ranging from CrossFit coach and correctional officer to nutritional therapist and blogger. Her unique perspective has allowed her to reach people of all different backgrounds from a place of authenticity and help them empower themselves through her writing and coaching. She has been featured in Yoga Academy International’s blog and you can follow her at www.kristenhubbard.com or on Instagram @kristenhubbard419.