Believe in your inherent goodness


By Jenna Ebener
A Reflection Column

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Many of us are familiar with this popular Scripture passage. I have always agreed with the truth of that statement without ever diving into what St. Paul meant when he wrote those words, words often said during the sacrament of matrimony and that appear on countless wall hangings. Have you ever paused to consider the true impact of love and how love impacts faith and hope? I always believed in the power of love but I had to witness the power of self-compassion within myself before I could truly feel its ripple effect.

I went into day one of a group therapy retreat in January feeling defeated. Of the three virtues, the only one I truly had at that time was faith. I believed in God and trusted in his guidance. I felt his presence, yet I no longer had hope that I would ever feel worthy of his love. I loved others and was extremely compassionate, yet I now see how limited my love truly was. We can only love others as much as we love ourselves — and I did not love myself.

I will always remember the difference in my demeanor from day one to day five of that retreat. On the first day, I was filled with such feelings of inadequacy that it took me minutes before I could even introduce myself to the group. When we looked each other in the eyes to share self-affirmations, such as “I am inherently worthy,” I did it, but could not believe in what I was saying. I could not bear the love and compassion in the eyes of my group members. By day five, something had shifted. I could look into my group members’ eyes, confidently say the phrase, and hold their gaze as tears of gratitude filled my eyes. I had finally accepted the gift of self-compassion that God had been trying to give to me.


Finally, I was able to comprehend what St. Paul meant. I saw how love truly is the key to all of the other virtues. With self-compassion, I am able to love others deeper than ever before. I have hope that life is worth the sometimes seemingly endless suffering that comes from discovering yourself and being authentic. My faith, which has always been my foundation, is able to grow and flourish now that I can finally believe that what God says of me, and all of us, is true — I am his beloved child, worthy of love without earning it, and very good.

Which of the three virtues come the most easily to you? Do they feel in balance? If not, I encourage you to look at how you treat yourself. Do you talk to yourself as you talk to your close friends when they are struggling? God lives inside you. Would you talk to him as you would talk to yourself? If not, then use the virtues of faith or hope to help you find self-love.

Scriptures and community with other believers are just two ways you can foster your faith and hope so that you are able to look deep inside to find those parts of yourselves that do not feel worthy of God’s love. Talk to those parts just as you would a close friend. My prayer is that every day, each of you will believe in your inherent goodness. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8: 38-39).

(Jenna Ebener, a graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is a social worker at a school in Colorado for students with a combination of medical, cognitive and behavior disabilities. She relies on God every day to aid her on this wonderful, yet intense journey.)

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on