“Spiritual living mightily increases true self-respect.” (The Urantia Book, The UB, 156:5.14)
I remember her walking in the high school hallways to her next classroom, one of our elderly teachers, too much rouge in her cheeks, wearing old-fashioned, wire frame eyeglasses before they became fashionable with hippies. Granny Greaves we nicknamed her. Like high school boys sometimes do, especially the alienated ones, we were studying well how to disrespect our elders. She was our guidance counselor.
One day in my ninth grade year, an appointment was made for me to see her. She had my IQ results which impressed her. While she spoke to me about being “a pupil of high potential,” I could see she wanted me to have confidence in my abilities, to empower the emerging self that was struggling to come out of its cocoon, put my willpower behind these gifts, think about making some decisions, taking a direction. But I didn’t want to look at them or even deal with it. My casual disregard unnerved her. Worse in her eyes was the tangle of emotions she must have seen that was concealing a damaged sense of self-worth. I was wounded, beginning to find ways to strike back.
I think she could have helped me but I refused help. “If you would obtain heavenly help, put away your pride,” (The UB, 131:7.3, Shinto) but the desire for spiritual help didn’t come until later in my life.
I see these traits in teenagers now, the rebellion and the resistance, some of whom I am tutoring. Mrs. Greaves wouldn’t have been able to tame my hurt feelings in one sitting, restore belief in myself and encourage some healthy pride. Perhaps all this was even beyond her skill set but oh, now I wish I’d let her start with the help. I’d have had something to build on.
Quite a long time ago, I finally put aside rebellion and started to study spiritual progress. “The sincere religionist is conscious of universe citizenship and is … thrilled and energized with the assurance of belonging to a superior and ennobled fellowship of the sons of God. The consciousness of self-worth has become augmented by the stimulus of the quest for the highest universe objectives—supreme goals.” (100:6.3)
“The self has surrendered to the intriguing drive of an all-encompassing motivation which imposes heightened self-discipline, lessens emotional conflict, and makes mortal life truly worth living. The morbid recognition of human limitations is changed to the natural consciousness of mortal shortcomings, associated with moral determination and spiritual aspiration to attain the highest universe and superuniverse goals. And this intense striving for the attainment of supermortal ideals is always characterized by increasing patience, forbearance, fortitude, and tolerance.” (100:6.4)
Because of this quote, I looked up the word morbid and read that it is “an unhealthy mental state, unwholesomely gloomy,” and it describes “a pessimist given to thoughts of death” as the Latin root mor-, mort, shows. When I came to God, hungry and thirsting for righteousness, one of the first things I desired the spirit to do with me was to heal this wounded self-esteem, replace morbidity with optimism.
Jesus taught his followers, “the loss of self-respect often ends in paralysis of the will. It is the purpose of this gospel to restore self-respect to those who have lost it and to restrain it in those who have it. Make not the mistake of only condemning the wrongs in the lives of your pupils; remember also to accord generous recognition for the most praiseworthy things in their lives. Forget not that I will stop at nothing to restore self-respect to those who have lost it, and who really desire to regain it.” (159:3.3)
Wounds are very close to our source of spiritual power. When we experience woundedness, we’ve become separated from our true inner selves, our spiritual natures, the Father fragments we’ve received (in UB terms), and we instinctively seek to undertake a journey of reunification. A mentor’s permission along with strength to go on the quest is often needed. This is why writers are often trained to use “the power of their wounds.” Leonard Cohen sang his Anthem, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Hemingway said something similar in A Farewell to Arms: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” Long before both of them, the poet Rumi in Childhood Friends wrote about, “the bandaged place, that’s where the light enters you.” Thank you, Jesus, for your light that healed me!
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