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The following is a synthesis of questions and comments made to me when people are in the process of recovering from abuse and violence.  If you think of something I’ve missed, please let me know and I’ll add it.  I hope you find it helpful.

It keeps playing on my mind over and over again

The important thing to know here is that what you focus your attention on becomes your reality.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us:

The reality of man is his thought . . . If a man’s thought is constantly aspiring towards heavenly subjects then does he become saintly; if on the other hand his thought does not soar, but is directed downwards to centre itself upon the things of this world, he grows more and more material until he arrives at a state little better than that of a mere animal.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 17)

This is why it’s important to be able to recognize our thoughts.

Please read:

We are Not Our Thoughts

A New Way of Looking at Myself

I think I remember what happened and then I think I made it up

I struggled with this for a great many years!  Finding this quote really helped:

Consequently, it has become evident that the four criteria standards of judgment by which the human mind reaches its conclusions (senses, intellect, traditional or scriptural and inspiration) are faulty and inaccurate. All of them are liable to mistake and error in conclusions. But a statement presented to the mind, accompanied by proofs which the senses can perceive to be correct, which the faculty of reason can accept, which is in accord with traditional authority and sanctioned by the promptings of the heart, can be adjudged and relied upon as perfectly correct, for it has been proved and tested by all the standards of judgment and found to be complete. When we apply but one test, there are possibilities of mistake. This is self-evident and manifest.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 255)

It gave me a 4-point checklist I could use:

  • Does the thought have proof which the senses can perceive to be correct?  In my own case this meant I was often triggered by sights, sounds, smells and tastes that reminded me of the abuse (my senses)
  • Can the faculty of reason accept this idea?  I asked myself: do children get sexually abused in homes where there is alcohol?  What is the statistical probability of being sexually abused as a young woman?
  • Does it come with traditional authority?  Studies have shown a link between childhood sexual abuse and alcohol so that was “traditional authority”.
  • Is it sanctioned by the promptings of the heart?  I used to ask myself – if someone put a gun to my head and asked if it was true or not, how would I answer?

For more information please read:

Recovering Childhood Memories:

I’m angry all the time

Of course you are!  What was done to you was an injustice and it’s OK to be angry about an injustice!  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says:

If he exercises his anger and wrath against the bloodthirsty tyrants who are like ferocious beasts, it is very praiseworthy; but if he does not use these qualities in a right way, they are blameworthy.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 215)

So how does one exercise anger and wrath against the bloodthirsty tyrants?  Here’s a story of how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá did it:

On hearing him [‘Abdu’l-Bahá], two things amazed us. First, he seemed to be wrought up to the highest pitch of anger and indignation. Never before had we heard him speak an angry word. We had known him sometimes impatient and peremptory, but never angry. And then, his great excitement had apparently given him command of the Turkish language, which no one had ever heard him speak before. He was, in Turkish, and in the most impassioned and vehement manner, protesting against, and denouncing, the treatment of the officers and demanding the presence of the Governor, who in the meantime had returned to the city. The officers seemed cowed by his vehemence, and the Governor was sent for. He came, and seeing the situation said, ‘It is impossible, we cannot separate these people.’ The Governor returned to his palace and telegraphed to Constantinople. The next day he received a reply granting permission to the followers of the Blessed Perfection to accompany him. We were told to prepare for immediate departure, but were not told to what place we were to be sent. When we set out there were seventy-seven in all in our band.  (Myron Henry Phelps and Bahiyyih Khanum, Life and Teachings of Abbas Effendi, p. 48-55)

From this we see that He was so angry he was even able to speak a language He didn’t know!  And then He addressed His concerns to the people in authority and went home and prayed.

I’m not sure what that would look like in your life, but please ponder it, remembering the guidance in the serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

There are many injustices in this world and for many of them there are no easy answers.  Sometimes we just have to accept our powerlessness, give them all to God and ask Him to take care of them, since they are beyond any human’s ability to fix.

In the Fire Tablet, Bahá’u’lláh reminds us:

Lament not because of the wicked. Thou wert created to bear and endure, O Patience of the worlds.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Prayers, p. 218)

That’s not the end of the story, though!  There are still some practical tools we can find in the Writings to help liberate us from our anger.  This is what the House of Justice wrote to me when I asked what to do:

As a devoted believer you are urged to strive to develop forgiveness in your heart toward your parents who have abused you in so disgraceful a manner, and to attain a level of insight which sees them as captives of their lower nature, whose actions can only lead them deeper into unhappiness and separation from God. By this means, you can liberate yourself from the anger to which you refer in your letter, and foster your own spiritual development.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

From that we can see that our job is to:

  • strive to develop forgiveness in your heart
  • see them as captives of their lower nature

Assignment:Make a list of 50 people and situations that make you angry, and identify those which you are ready and willing to forgive.Often fear is underneath anger, so for each one, identify the fear that goes along with the situation.  It might look something like this.

Willing to Forgive Name Situation Fear underlying
Yes Son Not returning my phone calls He doesn’t love me anymore
No Father Sexual Abuse I’m unloveable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The House of Justice wrote to a friend of mine:

You ask how to deal with anger. The House of Justice suggests that you call to mind the admonitions found in our Writings on the need to overlook the shortcomings of others; to forgive and conceal their misdeeds, not to expose their bad qualities, but to search for and affirm their praiseworthy ones, and to endeavour to be always forbearing, patient, and merciful. Such passages as the following extracts from letters written on behalf of the beloved Guardian will be helpful: There are qualities in everyone which we can appreciate and admire, and for which we can love them; and perhaps, if you determine to think only of these qualities which your husband possesses, this will help to improve the situation …. You should turn your thoughts away from the things which upset you, and constantly pray to Bahá’u’lláh to help you. Then you will find how that pure love, enkindled by God, which burns in the soul when we read and study the Teachings, will warm and heal, more than anything else.  (Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 454-455)

From this we see that it’s our job to:

  • overlook the shortcomings of others
  • forgive
  • conceal their misdeeds
  • not to expose their bad qualities
  • search for and affirm their praiseworthy ones
  • endeavour to be always forbearing, patient, and merciful.
  • think only of these qualities you can appreciate and admire and love them for
  • turn your thoughts away from the things which upset you
  • constantly pray to Bahá’u’lláh to help you
  • read and study the Teachings
Assignment:From the list above, I want you to make a list of 5 qualities you can appreciate for each of them.  It might look something like this:

Son Hard-working, active, balanced lifestyle, friendly, responsible
Father Clean and sober, ethical, responsible, hard working, reverent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re having trouble of thinking of things, this list of virtues might help

For more on this topic, please read:

Anger Burns the Liver

Forgiving our Perpetrators

Karen’s Story – A Journey towards Forgiveness

A New Understanding of my Lower Nature

But what about justice, I hear you asking!  God has promised never to forgive another man’s injustice, so the best thing you can do is to leave it in God’s hands.

For more information, please read:

Justice and Punishment

Justice and Punishment for the Perpetrators of Abuse and Violence

I have a poor self-image; and low self-esteem

This goes back to our fears and our thoughts.

When we were children being sexually abused, we likely didn’t have adults around we could talk to about what was happening who could tell us:

  • they alone were responsible for their actions
  • you didn’t do anything wrong
  • they were acting from their lower natures
  • you were created perfect, nothing they did to you can change that
  • the shame belongs to them, it doesn’t belong to you

Instead, we often believed there was something we did to cause it; or there was something we could have done to prevent it, when neither of these was true.  We were children, and powerless.

When you believe you must be worthless or bad things wouldn’t have happened to you, you are believing a lie coming from your own lower nature to trick you and keep you feeling bad about yourself.

The truth is that God created you because He loves you.

He created you perfect.

You were created noble and if you believe anything less about yourself, you are abasing yourself and God doesn’t want you to do that anymore.

Our job is to change our thoughts so that they align with God’s thoughts.

Assignment:I want you to read a Love Letter from God so you can see how much He loves you:  https://susangammage.com/a-love-letter-from-god-a-bahai-perspectiveRead this letter every day, knowing that God wrote it to you, and meditate on what it means in your life and which attitudes about yourself you need to change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Everybody else is drinking, why shouldn’t I?

First of all, think back to your own experiences!  You know that bad things happen when people drink alcohol!  It lowers inhibitions and leads to violence and sexual abuse.  You’ve experienced this first hand!

It’s no wonder Bahá’u’lláh has told us not to drink anymore!

According to the text of the Book of Aqdas, both light and strong drinks are prohibited. The reason for this prohibition is that alcohol leadeth the mind astray and causeth the weakening of the body. If alcohol were beneficial, it would have been brought into the world by the Divine creation and not by the effort of man. Whatever is beneficial for man existeth in creation. Now it hath been proved and is established medically and scientifically that liquor is harmful. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 349)

From this we learn that alcohol:

  • leads the mind astray
  • causes the weakening of the body
  • has been proved and is established both medically and scientifically as harmful

I understand it’s not easy to do things that are different from those around you.  The House of Justice tells us what we need to do once we accept Bahá’u’lláh:

When an individual becomes a Bahá’í, he or she accepts the claim of Bahá’u’lláh to be the Manifestation of God bringing a divinely-inspired message from God for the benefit of mankind. Implicit in the acceptance of this claim is the commitment of the believer to embark on the lifelong process of endeavouring  to implement the teachings on personal conduct.  (Universal House of Justice, Letters of The Universal House of Justice, 1993 Jun 05)

It’s not easy to become obedient and it doesn’t happen overnight.  As Ian Semple, former member of the Universal House of Justice explains, it’s a process.

 

Assignment:I want you to read his article on Obedience as a Process:  http://bahai-library.com/semple_obedience   It explains obedience in eloquent, easy to understand terms, and leaves me feeling proud to be part of such a moderate Faith.

 

 

God would not ask us to do things we don’t want to do if He didn’t have a good reason, and as we obey, we’ll soon come to see the wisdom of His commands:

Bahá’u’lláh would not have given us these things if they would not greatly benefit us, and, like children who are sensible enough to realize their father is wise and does what is good for them, we must accept to obey these ordinances even though at first we may not see any need for them. As we obey them we will gradually come to see in ourselves the benefits they confer.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights Of Guidance, p. 343)

It may mean that we need to find healthy people to hang around, and separate ourselves from the ones who draw us into doing things we don’t want to do.  I think that’s why Bahá’u’lláh tells us:

Treasure the companionship of the righteous and eschew all fellowship with the ungodly.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 3)

For more information I want you to read:

The Twelve Steps

Twelve Step Slogans

And say this prayer every time you’re tempted to take a drink:

O Divine Providence! Bestow Thou in all things purity and cleanliness upon the people of Bahá. Grant that they be freed from all defilement, and released from all addictions. Save them from committing any repugnant act, unbind them from the chains of every evil habit, that they may live pure and free, wholesome and cleanly, worthy to serve at Thy Sacred Threshold and fit to be related to their Lord. Deliver them from intoxicating drinks and tobacco, save them, rescue them, from this opium that bringeth on madness, suffer them to enjoy the sweet savours of holiness, that they may drink deep of the mystic cup of heavenly love and know the rapture of being drawn ever closer unto the Realm of the All-Glorious. For it is even as Thou hast said: ‘All that thou hast in thy cellar will not appease the thirst of my love—bring me, O cup-bearer, of the wine of the spirit a cup full as the sea!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 149-150)

I drink and do drugs to ease the pain but then bad things happen and I end up feeling worse

I know you do!  It’s what you’ve been taught!  It’s wonderful that you recognize it, and now you can look for other ways to ease the pain.

The first thing to know is that bad things happen to every single one of us, and the purpose of it is to perfect our souls.

Imagine a baby in the womb:  it develops things inside the womb that don’t make sense to its life there:  arms, toenails, eyelashes, ears . . . the list goes on and on!  He doesn’t need any of those things inside his mother, but God gave them to him anyway, knowing he would need them when he was born into this world.  If they didn’t develop in the womb, the baby would be greatly handicapped in the next world.

The same thing is true now.  God gives us tests, so that we can grow virtues that we will need in the next world. Just as a baby’s legs help him somewhat inside the womb to kick and turn over, they are even more necessary so he can walk in this world.  Although the virtues we develop in this world help us here, they will be absolutely essential in the next world, in ways we can’t even begin to understand now, any more than a baby could understand then.

For just as the effects and the fruitage of the uterine life are not to be found in that dark and narrow place, and only when the child is transferred to this wide earth do the benefits and uses of growth and development in that previous world become revealed—so likewise reward and punishment, heaven and hell, requital and retribution for actions done in this present life, will stand revealed in that other world beyond. And just as, if human life in the womb were limited to that uterine world, existence there would be nonsensical, irrelevant—so too if the life of this world, the deeds here done and their fruitage, did not come forth in the world beyond, the whole process would be irrational and foolish.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 184)

So what are the virtues we’re meant to develop?  Here’s a list to start with:

The virtues and attributes pertaining unto God are all evident and manifest, and have been mentioned and described in all the heavenly Books. Among them are trustworthiness, truthfulness, purity of heart while communing with God, forbearance, resignation to whatever the Almighty hath decreed, contentment with the things His Will hath provided, patience, nay, thankfulness in the midst of tribulation, and complete reliance, in all circumstances, upon Him. These rank, according to the estimate of God, among the highest and most laudable of all acts. All other acts are, and will ever remain, secondary and subordinate unto them.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 290)

So the important thing here is to realize that we don’t need to numb the pain, we need to develop a virtue!

All of the pain we feel is caused by our thoughts – and God has answers for all of them, which is why it’s so important to immerse ourselves in the word of God, as we’re commanded, morning and night.  The best resource for Bahá’ís dealing with the aftereffects of violence and abuse is to read the compilation of quotes that helped me heal.  Every kind of pain I felt has a corresponding quote in that book!

For more information, please read:

Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies

And this poem written by a coaching client trying to come to terms with the tests God was sending her:

Make of me a Divine Storm Chaser

If there’s a God, why would He let this happen?

This question has been asked by all men since the beginning of time; and though I can give a simple answer here, it’s not a definitive one.  The answer to this question alone would fill many books and perhaps there would still be those who didn’t understand.

It all goes back to free will.  Here’s the simple answer:

By the exercise of his free will, man either affirms his spiritual purpose in life or chooses to perpetuate evil by living below his highest station. The question is asked: “Is such a behaviour to be attributed to God, or to their proper selves?” And concludes: Every good thing is of God, and every evil thing is from yourselves.  (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 663)

For more information, please read:

How can Abuse be “for the sake of God?

Bullying and the Plans of God

If God even exists, where is He?

He’s always “closer than our life-veins”; standing ready to help us get through whatever happens to us.

This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favor, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 326)

He sees it all:

O YE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD!  Know, verily, that an unforeseen calamity followeth you, and grievous retribution awaiteth you. Think not that which ye have committed hath been effaced in My sight. By My beauty! All your doings hath My pen graven with open characters upon tablets of chrysolite.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 63)

When we hurt, God hurts too.  This is what happens in heaven every time someone is abused:

Every time My name “the All-Merciful” was told that one of My lovers had breathed a word that runneth counter to My wish, it repaired, grief-stricken and disconsolate to its abode; and whenever My name “the Concealer” discovered that one of My followers had inflicted any shame or humiliation on his neighbor, it, likewise, turned back chagrined and sorrowful to its retreats of glory, and there wept and mourned with a sore lamentation. And whenever My name “the Ever-Forgiving” perceived that any one of My friends had committed any transgression, it cried out in its great distress, and, overcome with anguish, fell upon the dust, and was borne away by a company of the invisible angels to its habitation in the realms above.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 308-309)

She then uttered within herself such a cry that the Celestial Concourse did shriek and tremble . . . And she fell upon the dust and gave up the spirit. . . . They all gathered around her, and lo! they found her body fallen upon the dust . . . And as they beheld her state and comprehended a word of the tale told by the Youth, they bared their heads, rent their garments asunder, beat upon their faces, forgot their joy, shed tears and smote with their hands upon their cheeks, and this is verily one of the mysterious grievous afflictions.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Prayers, p. 226)

He’s promised never to forgive another man’s injustice:

O OPPRESSORS ON EARTH!  Withdraw your hands from tyranny, for I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man’s injustice. This is My covenant which I have irrevocably decreed in the preserved tablet and sealed with My seal.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 64)

And to reward those who were badly hurt as children:

On this plane of existence, there are many injustices that the human mind cannot fathom. Among these are heart-rending trials of the innocent … With regard to the spiritual significance of the suffering of children ‘who are afflicted at the hands of the oppressor‘, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá not only states that for those souls ‘the afflictions that they bear in life become a cause for them of … an outpouring of divine mercy and bestowal‘, He also explains that to be a recipient of God’s mercy is ‘preferable to a hundred thousand earthly comforts‘, and He promised that ‘in the world to come a mighty recompense awaiteth such souls‘. Much, indeed, might be said upon this theme, and upon how the afflictions that they bear in life become the cause for them of such an outpouring of Divine mercy and bestowal as is preferable to a hundred thousand comforts and to a world of growth and development in this transitory abode.  (Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

 Everyone else seems to be having a good time. 

Why can’t I stay healthy, like the other people around me?

First of all, it’s important to understand that there are no healthy people or constantly happy people anywhere.  Because we are all tested, we all have stories and we all have pain.  Just like you put on a happy face to hide the sadness and anger you feel inside, so does everyone else.  And in some cases, this is a good thing.  Can you imagine a world where everyone went around depressed all the time?  Nothing would get done!

Secondly, spiritual growth and transformation is a process that happens, little by little, day by day.  This about what happens in nature.  On the coldest, darkest days in winter, we long for the warmth and light of summer, but we have to be patient, knowing it will be here soon enough.

Better days are ahead for you too.  How can I be so sure?  Because Bahá’u’lláh tells us:

O My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt, attain.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 329)

Please read some of my favorite stories to illustrate the purpose of our suffering:

Why Does Life Have to Hurt so Much?

Trusting God’s Will

 I put on a happy face to hide the sadness and anger I feel inside

That’s actually a good thing!  Have you ever heard someone say “fake it till you make it?”  God wants us to be happy.

If the day be dark, how much a gleam of sunshine is prized; so let believers wear smiling happy faces, gleaming like sunshine in the darkness.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 124-125)

In one of the prayers for spiritual growth, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reminds us:

I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 150)

It starts with a choice “I will”.

I sit there and cry and wallow in my pain and I cry myself to sleep at night

Of course you do!  You’re in a grief process, and grief has its own timetable.

For more information, please read:

Healing Has its Own Timetable

How to Let Go of the Past and Move Forward in your Life

I can’t sleep in the dark – I have to have the light on;

I can’t sleep because there’s no on/off switch for my brain

This is a much tougher one!  Its purpose is to protect you.  If your abuse happened at night and in your bed, there is a part of you that is terrified it will happen again and another part that’s going to make sure it doesn’t.  It’s going to keep you awake to keep you safe.  The key is to give that job description to God, so that you can get some sleep.

Here are two images I use.

First, I ask all of the frightened parts of me to go upstairs and sit on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s lap for the night, so I can get some sleep.

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)

Second, say these prayers:

O my Lord! Make Thy protection my armor, Thy preservation my shield, humbleness before the door of Thy oneness my guard, and Thy custody and defense my fortress and my abode.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 135)

O Lord! Protect us from what lieth in front of us and behind us, above our heads, on our right, on our left, below our feet and every other side to which we are exposed. Verily, Thy protection over all things is unfailing.  (The Bab, Baha’i Prayers, p. 133)

 I’ve gone for treatment but it doesn’t help

Of course it doesn’t!  Most treatment centres focus on the symptoms and the events but don’t’ focus on the spiritual causes or spiritual solutions and without that understanding, they’re all doomed to fail!

For more information please read:

Healing from Childhood Abuse

I’m surrounded by unhealthy people

Wonderful!  It’s important to know this!

The Bahá’í Writings encourages us to surround ourselves with “godly” people.

Beware! Walk not with the ungodly and seek not fellowship with him, for such companionship turneth the radiance of the heart into infernal fire.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 57)

Treasure the companionship of the righteous and eschew all fellowship with the ungodly.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 3)

The company of the ungodly increaseth sorrow, whilst fellowship with the righteous cleanseth the rust from off the heart. He that seeketh to commune with God, let him betake himself to the companionship of His loved ones; and he that desireth to hearken unto the word of God, let him give ear to the words of His chosen ones.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 56)

Assignment:Make a list of 25 good people and 10 safe places you can go, then make a commitment to spend time every day with people and places on your list.

Where can you go to find safe people to hang out with?

 

 Nothing gets better

That’s not true!  You found me!  And you’ve come to the right place!

Assignment:Make a list of 25 good things in your life, so you can see that it hasn’t all been terrible.Then thank God for each one of them.

 

 It’s important to thank God for all the bounties He’s give us because if we don’t, why would He send us more!  And He loves us so much that He’s told us our whole duty is to collect them!

The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 8)

 I just want to die

Of course you do!  Any sane person aware of all the injustices in the world would want to hasten the day of their departure from this world.

The wise man therefore does not attach himself to this mortal life and does not depend upon it; even at some moments he eagerly wishes death that he may thereby be freed from these sorrows and afflictions.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 378-379)

You’re not alone!  Even the Messengers of God wanted to die!

The Báb said:

Grant that the day of attaining Thy holy presence may be fast approaching.  (The Báb, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 165)

Bahá’u’lláh said:

Hasten, by Thy grace and bounty, my passing, O my Lord.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 18)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

I have renounced the world and the people thereof … In the cage of this world I flutter even as a frightened bird, and yearn every day to take My flight unto Thy Kingdom. Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá! Make Me drink of the cup of sacrifice, and set Me free.  (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By p. 309-310)

I don’t mean to make light of it, though.  If you have a plan to take your own life, please get help right away.  Call someone you trust.

This article might also be of comfort:

Suicide

My problems aren’t so big, but thinking about them all the time makes them feel really big

Yes, that’s absolutely right, and again it’s good that you know this.

Here’s another of my favorite stories:

A Cherokee elder told his grandson: “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, and resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”

The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”

The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

The point of the story is that we have a choice to where we want to put our attention.

I’m not doing anything with my life.  I don’t have a job or school or anything that makes me happy.  I rarely write, pray or do art anymore.  I hide out in my room and listen to music but it just makes the depression worse

The Bahá’í Writings suggest working and finding ways of being of service are good ways to focus our attention in healthier directions.

Be not the slave of your moods, but their master. But if you are so angry, so depressed and so sore that your spirit cannot find deliverance and peace even in prayer, then quickly go and give some pleasure to someone lowly or sorrowful, or to a guilty or innocent sufferer! Sacrifice yourself, your talent, your time, your rest to another, to one who has to bear a heavier load than you.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, source unknown)

To engage in some profession is highly commendable, for when occupied with work one is less likely to dwell on the unpleasant aspects of life.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 175)

For more information please read:

Living in the Past

Assignment:Talk to Susan Gammage about putting together a vision statement

 

 

 

 

 

  Some days I wake up in a good mood.  Why can’t I stay that way all the time?

 Apparently we need the contrasts in life, so we can appreciate what we have!  In the Fire Tablet, Bahá’u’lláh reminds us:

Were it not for the cold, how would the heat of Thy words prevail, O Expounder of the worlds?  Were it not for calamity, how would the sun of Thy patience shine, O Light of the worlds?  (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Prayers, p. 217)

Like everything, it gives us a chance to turn our attention towards God, to exercise our higher nature and to strengthen the muscle.  The more we use the muscles of turning from our lower to our higher natures, the longer we’ll be able to spend there.

I want to be healed in the snap of a finger

There are so many dimensions to healing that it takes time to work through every one, as you’ve seen by reading through this.

The most efficient ways and the fastest route to healing, is to turn towards the Divine Physician and follow His instructions.

In the short healing prayer, Bahá’u’lláh starts by saying:

Thy name is my healing, O my God . . . (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 85)

If we want to be healed then, it’s important to understand what He means by this.  What are the names of God?  I’ve put together a list of 405, each one has a unique contribution to make towards your healing.

Assignment:Read through “Using the Names of God for Healing” at:  https://susangammage.com/using-the-names-of-god-for-healing-a-bahai-perspectiveMake a list of 10 names that resonate with you, meditate on them and decide what actions are required on your part to advance your healing.See the article for more information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information please read:

Healing has its Own Timetable

And this one, written by a coaching client:

Moment to Moment

I’m a broken girl.  What do I have to offer in a relationship?

Maybe not much right now!

Most of us spend a lifetime pursuing relationships with other people in order to fill the hole in our soul, and everything in our society promotes us having a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The Bahá’í Faith teaches us something different.  The purpose of our lives is to know and worship God, so in order to find a good relationship later on, you might want to invest the time now, in getting healed and strengthening your relationship with God.  Then once these two key relationships are firmly in place, you’ll have a LOT more to give, and you’ll likely find a healthier relationship than if you keep trying to find one now.

How can someone so unhealthy help someone so unhealthy?

This is a very important question!  And of course the answer is, they can’t!  This is why I’m encouraging you to turn to the only truly healthy source of help – the Divine Physician.

God is the Divine Physician and He alone has the power to give true healing:

Its sickness is approaching the stage of utter hopelessness, inasmuch as the true Physician is debarred from administering the remedy, whilst unskilled practitioners are regarded with favor, and are accorded full freedom to act.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 39)

The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 212)

God is the great compassionate Physician who alone has the power to give true healing.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 19)

The Prophets of God are the real Physicians. In whatever age or time They appear They prescribe for human conditions. They know the sicknesses; They discover the hidden sources of disease and indicate the necessary remedy. Whosoever is healed by that remedy finds eternal health.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 204)

All is in the hands of God, and without Him there can be no health in us!  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 286)

I set aside my problems to help others

That’s a good thing!

If you are sincerely intent on overcoming your problem, you must yourself determine to resist wayward impulses each time they arise and the House of Justice feels that there is no better way than to turn to the Writings to divert our thoughts into spiritual channels , perhaps to concentrate on what we may do to help others along the way to discovering the Bahá’í Faith. The more we occupy ourselves with teaching the Cause and serving our fellowman in this way, the stronger we become in resisting that which is abhorrent to our spiritual selves.  (Letters of The Universal House of Justice, 1993 Jun 05)

All I can do is cry or get angry.  I don’t know what else to do.

The House of Justice has some suggestions for you:

Ideally, you would combine concentrating on healing with avenues of service which do not interfere with it.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 23 October, 1994.)

So keep on with your therapy; and keep finding ways to be of service!

For more information, please read this article, written by one of my coaching clients:

Working through Emotions

Other people’s lives seem so easy.  I’m envious.  They have perfect lives – it’s not fair!

Yes, it certainly can look that way, but in fact it’s not true, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us:

Because, when thou lookest with the iron sight, thou wilt find that all mankind is suffering in this earthly world; there is no one in such tranquillity that this state might have been a reward for his good deeds in a former life and there is no soul so happy that this might be the fruit of his past pain! Had the life of a man in his spiritual being been only confined to his life in this world, the creation would have proved useless; the divine qualities would have no result and effect; nay, all things, created beings and the world of creation would have proved abortive. I ask pardon of God for such false imaginations and for such errors!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 392-393)

When I go out in public, people stare at me, make fun of me, and ridicule me

Yes, that can be difficult!  We long for the approval of our friends and peers, but God tells us this isn’t as important as earning His approval.

The indifference and scorn of the world matters not at all, whereas your lives will be of the greatest importance.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 118)

To be approved of God alone should be one’s aim.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 6, No. 6, p. 44)

… at all times seeking the approval of men is many times the cause of imperiling the approval of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, June 24, 1915)

 What did I do wrong?

Not a thing!  The abuse that happened to you was not your fault; and the shame belongs to the perpetrator and not to you.

How you react to it is what will determine your character.  If you choose to see it as arising from his lower nature and use it to develop compassion and forgiveness, that will be a good thing.  If you choose to dwell on the unpleasant things of life, you will stay stuck in anger and bitterness and do more harm to yourself by your negative thoughts, than he ever did to you!

Why did this happen to me?

You were in the wrong place at the wrong time, as were all the other people who’ve ever been sexually abused.

For more information please read:

Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People?  

People tell me to do something, I just want to do the opposite – I’m rebellious

Partly that’s because of your age and as Bahá’u’lláh says in the Tablet of Ahmad:

. . . the wisdom of every command shall be tested.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 208)

Partly it’s because you don’t trust the opinions of the people who are telling you to do something.

There’s only one authority who you can trust absolutely, and that’s God, and even so, it can be hard to trust Him too.

There’s a really well written article on the process of obedience I want you to read:

Sometimes I can be the nicest girl, and then someone will say something mean, I’ll feel bad and lash out and say the most horrible things and feel bad after

This is because you’ve taken offense to what someone told you – you’ve believed the lies coming from their lower nature.  The standard in the Faith is to neither give offence nor take offense.

Bahá’í consultation is not an easy process. It requires love, kindliness, moral courage and humility. Thus no member should ever allow himself to be prevented from expressing frankly his view because it may offend a fellow member; and, realizing this, no member should take offence at another member’s statements.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 179-180)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us how we should respond to others:

Should any come to blows with you, seek to be friends with him; should any stab you to the heart, be ye a healing salve unto his sores; should any taunt and mock at you, meet him with love. Should any heap his blame upon you, praise ye him; should he offer you a deadly poison, give him the choicest honey in exchange; and should he threaten your life, grant him a remedy that will heal him evermore. Should he be pain itself, be ye his medicine; should he be thorns, be ye his roses and sweet herbs. Perchance such ways and words from you will make this darksome world turn bright at last; will make this dusty earth turn heavenly, this devilish prison place become a royal palace of the Lord — so that war and strife will pass and be no more, and love and trust will pitch their tents on the summits of the world. Such is the essence of God’s admonitions; such in sum are the teachings for the Dispensation of Baha.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 33)

I agree that this isn’t easy to do, but once you know the standard, you have something to work towards!

The doctor tells me I have PTSD, anxiety and depression.

Yes, those are common diagnoses for those who’ve experienced abuse.  I don’t like these labels though, because they put the blame on others or on the illness and then you’re stuck.

If you call it fear and self-pity instead, you have a choice to overcome.

For more information, please read:

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Self-Pity (7 part series)

I’ve lost so many friends and I can’t keep a relationship – I always start a fight and push them away

Of course you do!  It’s hard for you to trust anyone.

For more information please read:

Dealing with Anger in Marriage

Unresolved Baggage from Childhood in Marriage

Estrangement within Families

Abusive Relationships in a Marriage

Here’s a good article that might give you some insights on how to find and maintain a healthy relationship:

Preventing an Abusive Marriage

Married to Dr. Jekyll

There’s no hope

Other people have done is so I know you can too!

Here’s my story

Here’s a poem written by a Bahá’í friend of mine:

Treewoman – a Poem on the Recovery of Abuse

For more information please read:

Fight, Flight or Freeze

Protection

How has this helped you understand a spiritual approach on how to heal?  Post your comments here: