First and foremost, one should use every possible means to purge one’s heart and motives, otherwise, engaging in any form of enterprise would be futile. It is also essential to abstain from hypocrisy and blind imitation, inasmuch as their foul odour is soon detected by every man of understanding and wisdom. (From a letter dated 19 December 1923 to the Bahá’ís of the East—translated from the Persian, in Living the Life: Excerpts from the Writings of Shoghi Effendi, Third Edition (New Delhi: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1997), p. 2, from Give me Thy Grace to Serve Thy Loved Ones, Compilation for the 2018 Counsellors’ Conference, )
For so many years, I turned myself into a pretzel, trying to be whoever “you” wanted me to be, so that I could get the love and respect I didn’t get as a child. I didn’t even know I was doing it. I looked at other people who were successful and I copied what they were doing, and mostly I did it so well that I fit in and felt as if I belonged. Sometimes I felt like a fraud, but mostly I believed I was on the right track. Then I found this quote, and in studying it, several things came to my mind:
- When I looked at my motives, I could see that I was trying to manipulate others into liking my falsely created self.
- The hypocrisy was that when I was in “blind imitation” of other people, I wasn’t being the Susan that God created.
But having this awareness, didn’t stop the behavior, because who was I if I wasn’t the person I thought I was? It’s taken several years in 12 step recovery to let go of this false self, strengthen my relationship with God, and learn to take my direction from him. This process is taking me further away from who I wanted to be, and I’m not sure where I’m going, but I trust God with the process.
One day at a time, I’m reclaiming my nobility and I am grateful!
What jumped out for you when you read this passage? Please share your thoughts below.
If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Making Friends with Sin and Temptation