The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book’s compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, “neither in her heart or in the eucharist.”
That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness” and “torture” she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. “The smile,” she writes, is “a mask” or “a cloak that covers everything.” Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. “I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love,” she remarks to an adviser. “If you were [there], you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy.’”
The church decided to keep her letters, even though one of her dying wishes was that they be destroyed.
^ This seems to indicate that she derived most, if not all of her self esteem by receiving praise from the public via appealing to their religious sentiments, even though she doubted the truth and value of these very sentiments.
The drive for self esteem, whatever it is, is an incredibly powerful force. We see this when a man, before committing suicide, will sometimes kill his children and wife. He does this to prevent being remembered unfavorably. Self esteem is based on our beliefs about what other people think of us. Mother Teresa had beliefs about what the public thought of her. Her desire to have the letters destroyed was just a knee jerk preservation of her self esteem, an escape from shame.