OUTCASTS IN THEIR OWN SOULS
On this date in 1988 mother wrote me a wonderful long letter. In it she used a phrase I have never forgotten. Let me share the paragraph containing the powerful phrase:
"I must love and do what I can to uplift people who are outcasts. I know we can't love them all the time but there are times when our loving care can make a difference in their lives. I feel impressed of God at those times to do my best to make them feel worthy. If a person feels unworthy of love, they are outcasts in their own soul."
Think about that phrase, "Outcasts in their own soul." It's one thing for someone you love to cast you out of their hearts and lives as long as you do not let it destroy you. But the minute you cast yourself aside as "unworthy," you become estranged from your own central core of being. It is a worse condition by far.
A musician friend killed himself because of a profound sense of unworthiness. I know that was his real problem. I spent an entire day at his apartment trying to get him to love himself half as much as I loved him.
He made one of the most powerful inspirational talks I ever heard one night at an AA meeting. Seldom have I been moved that profoundly. There was not a dry eye in the room. I told him several times how great he was and he would stare at me in disbelief and just murmur, "Really?" I could tell he didn't believe me. He really couldn't believe me. His own shriveled estimation of his worth would not let him accept the truth of his greatness.
He was aware that he was a good guitar player but everyone who ever heard him thought he was not just good, but great. He never sought the top gigs because of this lack of belief in his own greatness. If I could have played like him, I could easily have doubled the money I was making.
Mother described his problem correctly: he was an outcast in his own soul. He had literally thrown away his self-esteem. He could not love himself.
In his early years, complete immersion in the worst ideas of fundamentalism gave him a profound sense of unworthiness and self-loathing. Somehow he managed to throw off some of those disabling beliefs as he created a less fearsome concept of God. He gave verbal assent to the fact that God loved him but he never was able to love himself. People can actually wallow around in the idea that they are miserable worms until it takes them over.
When he killed himself, I had a deep sense of failure for a while. After all, I had a full day to reason with him and try to snatch him out of his self-hatred.
I have become certain of one thing: all you can do to help people love themselves is to tell them over and over why you and God love them. Speak often and sincerely of every quality they possess. They must be placed in your Intensive Care Unit until you can drip-drip so much love in them that they start believing they are indeed worthy. You won't always succeed but when you do it feels like your whole life has been a success.
I saw mother do this with a little Cherokee orphan who had been passed around among distant relatives who did not want him. She took him in our home and went to work on his self-image. He became such a beautiful, caring person. He found a job in his teens and built a loving home for his wife and children. I have no doubt that she saved him from becoming an outcast to his own soul
Embrace yourself lovingly and you are embracing your own soul.