By The Most Reverend Joseph C. McKinney

proper self-esteem gives rise to an attitude of gratitude. This "gratitude zone" is the type of attitude that is at the core of the 12-step program for alcoholics and other programs for people who are afflicted with addiction because of their low self-esteem.

We need to learn to be happy with who we are—to develop confidence and satisfaction in oneself. While the Buddhist seeks a higher level of realization by ignoring feelings, and some Eastern Religions seek a stream of consciousness that brings one in contact with divinity, we Christians see the human person in terms of a soul that is in deep relationship to its body.

Self-esteem is at the center of our being. If that is not healthy, our life is scattered as we strive to cope with false images of who we are. It is unhealthy when a beautiful woman or handsome man makes their self-esteem depend on their appearance. Because it is inevitable that we all deteriorate with age. The person who depends on such things is on a crash-course with disaster. Our self-esteem comes primarily from God who made sure that we turned out just the way he wanted and is in love with his creation. God looks at us and says, "This one is good. I want it to have life--a life that will never die." That is the source of our self-esteem and it is enhanced by the knowledge that we are destined to share in the Resurrection Life. That is God’s plan for us and his son died and rose to make the point.

At the core of our self-esteem is the Holy Spirit. We are a temple of the Holy Spirit, which is the breath of God within us. We breathe in the very life of God and we breathe out all that separates us from God. The Holy Spirit is the oxygen that energizes us. All that interferes with us is the carbon dioxide that needs to be expelled. That Holy Spirit is the light that expels darkness, the peace that overcomes fear, the spring that brings life-giving water to our dryness, the love of God that conquers hatred, and the merciful forgiveness that overcomes revenge. Our contact with the Living God fills us with new life. "In him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). God is alive in us and our attitude of gratitude glorifies the Lord.

The Holy Spirit provides the power that overcomes our weakness and powerlessness when: 1. He inspires us to do what Jesus would do. 2. He enables us to move the heart of another. It is then that bonds with others immeasurably enrich our life. Bonding is an activity of the Holy Spirit who enriches life with his multi-splendored love. Love has so many flavors. There are many examples: the love for our parents, love for our sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighborhood children, school chums and classmates, team members, spouses, children, friends, fellow parishioners, fellow workers, and for companions on life’s journey. All enhances the attitude of gratitude and our capacity to create something new. This participation in creation as stewards puts us in the gratitude zone that enables us to soar in the God zone.

If we can "go with the flow," and welcome "all as gift" and the "whatever" of each day with an Amen spirit, then our spirit produces awesome gladness and cherishes our bond with the living God. Our thank you spirit gives rise to "thank you, Jesus" and that is living life to the full. Praise, awe, and wonder rise from the mountain of gratitude enabling our spirits to soar.

Self-esteem gives rise to Glory, i.e., praise, splendor, and honor to God which is central to the gratitude zone. Glory is giving weight to God and his place in our lives. However, any glory of man is imperfect and only a reflection of God’s glory. Yet, we are destined to share divinity. Glory gives emphasis to that. Like Mary we magnify the Lord and gladness fills our soul (Luke 1:46-55).

The Most Reverend Joseph C. McKinney is the Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids and the former Chairman of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

Read other articles of spiritual enlightenment in the November 1998 edition of the San Francisco Charismatics or return to the Main Menu by clicking on the blue.