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  • Writer's picturePatty Breen

Faithfulness not Success

As a little girl, I was a bit of an odd child. I had a slight fascination with Mother Teresa. One of my earliest memories of playing at the house of my maternal grandparents was sitting on a tiny stool watching VHS recordings of Mother Teresa from her work with the poor in Calcutta.

It is definitely a unique choice for a child around the age of four or five, one that concerned my parents a little bit.

But at almost 38 years old, I still have vague memories of these experiences.

There was something about this woman in a blue and white sari that radiated love and kindness to me. My mom told me that sometime afterwards, I began to add Mother Teresa to my repertoire of dress-up characters (and yes there are photos to prove it!). I apparently would take all the clothes of my tiny baby dolls, and throw their naked bodies across the playroom. Then, I would turn my princess cape into a blanket as I gently picked up each baby doll with great love and care. I rescued them, just like Mother Teresa rescued with love all those who came into her care and presence.

There is much that could be said about this tiny Albanian woman who stood at barely five feet tall. She is perhaps one of the most famous and well respected Christian women across the globe. More has been written on her life, story, and work than some of the most ancient saints in the Catholic tradition.

Of all the glories and things she can be remembered for, the one that most resonates with me are these particular words:

God has not called me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.

-Mother Teresa

Too often in the modern world, people are defined or labeled by what they do - their successes or wins in any number of different areas. And yet, Mother Teresa offers a different path forward - that a life of true success is being faithful to God in the life we are living, in the ways we are called, led, and stretched by the Divine in our lives.

I would stretch this idea of faithfulness a bit further. Yes, being faithful to God - and being faithful to ourselves, listening to the voice of God in our own experience, life, and conscience. Being faithful to yourself in not letting people treat you in ways that hurt or demean you.

Living a life of success through the eyes of the world, may often mean we have not been faithful to ourselves and/or God in deeper ways.

Wherever life finds you, whatever the path may look like right now, be faithful both to God and yourself. Trust that Divine spark living and breathing in your heart and soul. Never let that go.

Life is really not about being successful, but rather, being faithful in those two areas.


When not working in healthcare or writing, you can find Patty getting stronger at CrossFit, reading good books, and loving on her godchildren, niece, and nephew. She loves deep conversations at the intersection of faith, culture and ministry and using the art of storytelling to connect to people's hearts. Follow her Instagram here.

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