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God’s Wings

Rest assured in the protection of God. He will preserve his own children under all circumstances. Be ye not afraid nor be ye agitated. He holds the scepter of power in His hand, and like unto a hen He gathereth his chickens under His wings . . . Now, friends, this is the time of assurance and faith and not fear and dread.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 8, No. 19, p. 241)

Recently I came across a list of 541 common fears and phobias and no doubt, more are being identified all the time.  As part of my recovery from workaholism, I had to put together a list of my own fears, and was challenged to come up with at least 100 and with the help of that online resource, it wasn’t hard.  I had no idea my life (and other people’s too) was ruled by so much fear.

It doesn’t help the the news and social media are fanning the flames of fear about terrorism, crime, health and safety concerns, climate change, identity theft, immigration, global warming, nuclear war, economic disaster and more.  It’s easy to make fear our god and let it rule our lives.  In that moment, it’s easy to forget to turn to God.

The world isn’t going to come to an end.  Bahá’u’lláh has promised that His Revelation is moving us towards the Golden Age and the Most Great Peace.  Everything happening in the world is just the necessary decline of the old world order, so something better can be built up in its stead.

Whenever I’m feeling afraid and lonely, I remember that this moment is all there is and in this moment, everything is perfectly fine.  In this moment, I have a roof over my head and food in my belly.  I can rest in the assurance of the protection of God.

Knowing I can ask ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to gather me under His wings whenever I’m afraid,  I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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Choosing Joy

For instance, a merchant may lose his trade and depression ensues. A workman is dismissed and starvation stares him in the face. A farmer has a bad harvest, anxiety fills his mind. A man builds a house which is burnt to the ground and he is straightway homeless, ruined, and in despair.  All these examples are to show you that the trials which beset our every step, all our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter; whereas the spiritual Kingdom never causes sadness. A man living with his thoughts in this Kingdom knows perpetual joy.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 109-110).

Everyone has tests in life – it’s how we grow spiritually.  They remind us to turn towards God and result in developing the virtues we’ll need in the next world.  So they’re just a given.  We all get them.  So how can we be happy in the midst of them?  This quote gives us a clue.  It shows us that it’s our thoughts about the tests that are the problem.  All our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter.  Isn’t it interesting that even though these tests are a part of God’s plan, they aren’t meant to cause us sadness.  That’s our choice.  It reminds me of a story, which comes from the Taoist tradition (its origin is unknown.)

It’s a story of a farmer and his horse.  One day his horse runs away. And his neighbor comes over and says, to commiserate, “I’m so sorry about your horse.” And the farmer says “Who knows what’s good or bad?” The neighbor is confused because this is clearly terrible. The horse is the most valuable thing he owns.  But the horse comes back the next day and he brings with him 12 feral horses. The neighbor comes back over to celebrate, “Congratulations on your great fortune!” And the farmer replies again: “Who knows what’s good or bad?”  And the next day the farmer’s son is taming one of the wild horses and he’s thrown and breaks his leg. The neighbor comes back over, “I’m so sorry about your son.” The farmer repeats: “Who knows what’s good or bad?”  Sure enough, the next day the army comes through their village and is conscripting able-bodied young men to go and fight in war, but the son is spared because of his broken leg.  And this story can go on and on like that. Good. Bad. Who knows?

Nothing is accomplished by overanalyzing, overthinking, overplanning, overlabeling.  Labeling something good or bad only keeps me stuck.

When I keep my thoughts in the spiritual Kingdom I feel perpetual joy, no matter what life throws at me, and I am grateful.

 

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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Past, Present and Future 

. . . in the sight of God the past, the present and the future are all one and the same – whereas, relative to man, the past is gone and forgotten, the present is fleeting, and the future is within the realm of hope.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 207.

I love this idea that time is illusory.  I often go down a well-worn rut of depression (self-pity for what happened to me in the past) or anxiety (a lot of fear about what’s going to happen in the future).  My internal “chicken little” is always screaming “the sky is falling”!  And of course, from a material perspective, it surely is.

But what’s happening on this plane of existence is not real.  It’s not what matters.  It’s just the breeding ground for our spiritual growth and development.  Our souls are untouched by what’s happening around us.  From a spiritual perspective, there is no time.  There is only this moment, and in this moment, all is well.  So when I remember, or am reminded by quotes such as these, that from God’s perspective, the past is gone and forgotten, I can breathe easier.  I can press on with confidence, remembering that it’s always darkest before the dawn.

Remembering that hope lies in the future, I am calm, peaceful and grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

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Ways to Combat Stress

. . . in view of these passages, you may wish to focus some of your reading and meditations on the lives and sufferings of the Cen­tral Figures of the Faith. Similarly, we are assured by the Guardian that the Tablet of Ahmad, the Healing Prayer and the Fire Tablet each have a special potency, and you will doubtless wish to avail yourself of them, if you are not already doing so. It is interesting to note as well that Shoghi Effendi encouraged the believers to study the Dawn-Break­ers, which he described as an “unfailing instrument to allay distress.”  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 23 October, 1994)

As someone who suffers from adrenal fatigue I need to avoid all forms of stress, good and bad, while my adrenals recover.  If I don’t, I will never have the energy I need to serve the Faith I love so dearly.  This quote helped give some some great ideas on ways to allay distress:

  • focus some of my reading and meditations on the lives and sufferings of the Cen­tral Figures of the Faith
  • Recite the Tablet of Ahmad, the Long Healing Prayer and the Fire Tablet
  • study the Dawn-Break­ers 

I love all of these suggestions but I have a special connection to the Fire Tablet, because it’s like reading about Bahá’u’lláh’s bad day and the way He poured His heart out to God about all the things that were going wrong, and God answered back, very gently, reminding Him of the purpose of His tests and that His purpose was to “bear and endure”.  I also love the Dawn Breakers, because reading about the early believers and all the things they had to endure, puts my “first world problems” into perspective and I feel more grateful for the life I have with all its bounties and blessings, and I’ve learned that gratitude is one of the best ways to beat stress.

Knowing there are some concrete tools I can use to overcome stress, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

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The Purpose of Tests 

The Guardian urges you not to be discouraged by any set-backs you may have. Life is a process of trials and testings, and these are – contrary to what we are prone to thinking – good for us and give us stamina, and teach us to rely on God. (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 453)

Lately I’ve been feeling like God is playing “whack a mole” with me.  I put my head up, try to take action in a certain direction and then get slammed down as the doors close.  This has repeated itself about 40 times in my life, and each time I’ve lost hope and each time, I try again, only to be pushed down.  When I made a list of all the times it happened, I was in awe at my steadfastness and my resilience.

I love this quote!  It’s such a helpful reminder.  When life doesn’t go my way and I easily fall into hopeless, helpless despair at ever understanding what God’s will for me is, this quote is the reality check I need to combat depression.  It helps me remember to thank God for sending me these tests, because without them, I wouldn’t have a reason for or remember to be totally reliant on God.  So the more tests I have, and the more I remember that they’re good for me, the less often I have to fall into self-pity.

I also like the reminder that life is a process of trials and tests.  This reminds me of the ebbs and flows of the natural world – the tides, the blood pumping through our bodies etc.  So I have a test and then there’s a chance to catch my breath before the next one.  Some days the challenges seem to come fast and furious but I remember that God never gives a soul more than they can handle and eventually there is a lull at the eye of the storm where I can process.

When I remember that there’s a purpose for all my tests, I breathe easier, and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

Help Keep This Site Alive