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Hardship

. . . if thy daily living become difficult, soon thy Lord will bestow upon thee that which will satisfy thee. Be patient in time of affliction and trial, endure every difficulty and hardship with a dilated heart, attracted spirit and eloquent tongue in remembrance of the Merciful. Verily this is the life of satisfaction, the spiritual existence, heavenly repose, divine benediction and the celestial table! Soon thy Lord will extenuate thy straitened circumstances even in this world!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Divine Art of Living, p. 93)

We all have times in life that are difficult.  That’s how we grow spiritually and attain our purpose in life, which is to draw closer to God and acquire the virtues we need in the next life.  In the middle of these times, though, it’s hard to remember.  We often compare ourselves with others, who seem to slide through life with a silver spoon.  Envy only makes things worse.  Here we see what we need to remember:

  • It won’t last forever
  • In the meantime, be patient
  • Endure these times with a dilated heart, attracted spirit and eloquent tongue in remembrance of God

Not only will this make the tests easier to bear, they give us a life of satisfaction, spiritual existence, heavenly repose, divine benediction and the celestial table. That seems reason enough to stop complaining and change my attitude!

Knowing how to survive times of hardship, 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 Learning How to Be Happy

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Body Image

O Son of Man! The temple of being is My throne; cleanse it of all things, that there I may be established and there I may abide.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic 58)

I was in a woman’s crisis shelter shortly after my book Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies had been published.  One of the women in the shelter picked it up and randomly read this quote.  I’ll never forget her comment:  “If I could believe that this quote was true, my struggles with eating disorders would end.”  Such is the power of the transformative words of God.

When I read it I think of my home as my temple, and how I feel peaceful when it’s orderly, organized, clean and tidy.  It’s not a stretch to believe that if I want more peace in my life I need to cleanse my heart of all things (anger, jealousy, bitterness, envy, criticism, suspicion, apathy, lethargy, gossip, backbiting etc), so that it’s a welcoming place for God to reside.

Lately I’m thinking a lot about “being” and “doing”.  Note that this quote talks about the temple of “being” not the temple of “doing”.  I think it means that God wants our company and nearness through prayer, meditation and work done in the spirit of service.  He doesn’t want our “doing” through manipulation and control, approval seeking, people pleasing, caretaking or immersion in all the temptations a materialistic lifestyle has to offer.

Knowing God wants to “be” with me, I can create a clean place inside and out for Him to reside 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 Strengthening Your Relationship with God

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Aligning with the Will of God 

The true worshipper, while praying, should endeavour not so much to ask God to fulfill his wishes and desires, but rather to adjust these and make them conform to the Divine Will. Only through such an attitude can one derive that feeling of inner peace and contentment which the power of prayer alone can confer.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Importance of Prayer, Meditation and a Devotional Attitude, p. 239)

I used to have a relationship with God that was kind of like my relationship with Santa Claus.  I’d come to Him with a list of things I wanted and hoped that if I was very good, He’d give them to me.  This was a problem as a child, when my wishes were mostly centred on getting Him to stop the abuse and when it got worse, I stopped believing in God.  I’m glad that phase of my life only lasted 10 years!  But even as a Bahá’í, for many years, I didn’t make the link between what I was praying for in person, and what I was praying for when reciting the prayers from the prayer book.  I still wanted what I wanted, and believed that if I was the perfect Bahá’í, He’d give me what I asked for.  Sometimes He did and sometimes I felt like He was playing “Whack a Mole” with me.

With spiritual maturity, I’ve come to understand that all the tests He sent me were actually gifts in disguise.  We can’t grow spiritually without tests.  Think back on the darkest days of your life and see what virtues got you through and you’ll see what I mean.  I love that in Ruhi Book 1 we’re asked to develop the discipline of studying prayers with someone.  From this activity, I learned to dissect the prayer and look at what we’re really asking for when we repeat it.

I’ve also come to realize that with expectations come disappointments, and when I’m expecting a certain result, I’m in self-will, actually telling God what He can do for me.  So I love this reminder that when I ask God to make my wishes and desires conform to His will, I will feel that inner sense of peace and contentment which makes blesses my life and the lives of those around me.

Remembering to conform my will to God’s will, 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 Learning How to Be Happy

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Feeling Hurt

We must never dwell too much on the attitudes and feelings of our fellow-believers towards us. What is most important is to foster love and harmony and ignore any rebuffs we may receive; in this way the weakness of human nature and any peculiarity or attitude of any particular person is not magnified, but pales into insignificance in com­parison with our joint service to the Faith we all love.  (Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í  Life, p. 16)

It is so easy for me to go to a place of feeling hurt, even when no offence was meant.  This is a big test for me right now, and it comes from a place of not believing in my nobility and not believing I’m lovable.  This false belief, put on the hamster wheel in my mind, and becomes so magnified it won’t let anything positive in, enables me to put up walls between me and others before I even know I’m doing it.  Sometimes it feels like the very air I breathe, the ocean I’m swimming in.  It would be like asking a bird to recognize the air or a whale to recognize the ocean.

So this quote gives me some concrete steps I can take to overcome this tenancy:

  • Stop dwelling on the attitudes and feelings of others
  • Focus on bringing love and harmony
  • Ignore any rebuffs
  • Continue to serve together

Easier said than done, perhaps, but at least I know where to start, 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 Learning How to Forgive

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Accepting Invitations

Whensoever ye be invited to a banquet or festive occasion, respond with joy and gladness, and whoever fulfilleth his promise will be safe from reproof.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas 156, p. 75)

I used to think that this quote meant that I needed to accept and attend every invitation that came my way, which, on top of my extensive “to do” list with work and service, only led to exhaustion, burnout, and resentment.  Over time, I’ve come to appreciate the reasons for it.

First of all, we bond when we take bread together, and bonding is necessary to building unity.  At the end of our lives, it’s the relationships that matter, not what we accomplished when we were busy.  Also, community building needs social time as well as the more formal prayer, service and study time.

However, it’s still not possible to attend every invitation that comes our way, and this quote doesn’t say we have to.  We only need to respond with joy and gladness.  We can make the host feel appreciated for the efforts she’s making, grateful to be included in the invitation, and gracious in the way we say “please ask another time”.

I can be gracious when I’m not able to attend and grateful when I can, 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 Letting Go of Criticizing Others

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