A NEW ONLINE FRIEND E. wrote, "...I am a struggling Catholic who doubts alot and who also suffers with low self esteem due to poor relationship with my mother, when she rejected me as a baby and has never shown me the love i needed. I have so many internal problems and feel these are barriers to being a good Catholic and loving others-when often i cannot love myself enough. ...but i must be doing something wrong as i still do feel very depressed sometimes and people can keep a distance from me and also i worry incessantly and overeat."
Very quickly, two persons responded in writing to commiserate and to encourage her. One (H.) wrote, "When you describe yourself, that sounds so familiar to me. I, too was rejected by my parents, a product of family violence and divorced parents.... It's okay not to be loved by anyone in this world, it 's okay ... as long as we know He loves us - so much that we could not possibly comprehend how much His love is. Look at all the things He provides you - look around. Your food, your clothing, your job and even this forum as a shoulder to cry on. How much do we feel grateful to the love He's showered upon us?"
TOUCHED BY YET ANOTHER SAD STORY, i also tried to help by writing, "Sounds like you want to, but cannot love yourself enough because of how people have treated you in the past and even right now.
"It's sad how people can hurt others so easily. Most times though, people are self-centred. They don't mean to hurt others and often don't realise they do. If they knew the damage they are doing, they wouldn't do what they do.
"Actually, people can be quite fickle. It's much better to anchor yourself on God. Remember how much God loves all of us, especially you, because our loving God is nearest to the broken-hearted.
"As St John wrote in his first letter (1 John 4:19), "We love because he first loved us." Try to bask in God's love more often: attend mass more, go to the adoration room more, pray more... Then you can draw strength from Him to love yourself more.
"This is just a passing phase. Once you've begun to love yourself and the people around you more, others will be drawn to you like bees to honey. Don't Worry, Trust in Him!"
Then guess what? A timely post by H. quoting St Teresa of Avila simply summed up what i'd said in just a few beautiful words:
"Let nothing trouble you,
Let nothing frighten you,
God never changes.
Patience obtains all,
Whoever believes in God
Wants for nothing,
God alone is enough."
And a piece of good news: E. replied to say that she has decided to go on a retreat with a friend!
(See also The Problem of Pain.)