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Why We Avoid Abusers

Smooth and insidious are these snakes, these whisperers of evil, artful in their craft and guile. Be ye on your guard and ever wakeful! . . . Act ye with all circumspection!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 314)

On the other hand there are some persons whose very respiration extinguishes the light of faith; whose conversation weakens firmness and steadfastness in the Cause of God; whose company diverts one’s attention from the kingdom of Abhá.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 25)

While these quotes don’t necessarily refer to those who abuse others, in my recovery, I took them that way.  I was happy to see that ‘Abdu’l-Baha understood that those who hurt me were “smooth and insidious whisperers or evil, artful in their craft and guile”.  It’s as if they had been trained to do what they did, and maybe they were.

In my recovery I’ve learned that “hurt people hurt people”, so when I hear the stories of my perpetrators’s lives, I can have more understanding of how they were reenacting what they’d been taught to do.  Nevertheless, being around them as an adult was confusing and for a time, I did lose my firmness and steadfastness in the Cause of a God I could no longer believe in.

Now, as I’ve become awake, I need to remember to be on my guard and act with circumspection, and surround myself with those who remind me of the grace and bounty and loving-kindness of a merciful God every day.

Losing my naivete about people’s characters and knowing I have permission to steer clear of them, 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 Overcoming Violence and Abuse   Kindle

 

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Appeasing the Anger of the Heart

But the body politic has the right to preserve and to protect. It holds no grudge and harbours no enmity towards the murderer, but chooses to imprison or punish him solely to ensure the protection of others. The purpose is not revenge but a punishment through which the body politic is protected. Otherwise, were both the victim’s heirs and the community to forgive and return good for evil, the wrongdoers would never cease their onslaught and a murder would be committed at every moment—nay, bloodthirsty individuals would, like wolves, entirely destroy the flock of God. The body politic is not prompted by ill will in meting out its punishment; it acts without prejudice and does not seek to gratify a sense of vengeance. Its purpose in inflicting the punishment is to safeguard others and to prevent the future commission of such vile actions.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed., p. 77)

To me, this quote is about justice.  In an earlier translation the word “body politic” was “community”, which seems clearer.  What this suggests is that it’s my job as a victim to forgive and return good for evil and the community’s job to imprison and protect.  The community imprisons and punishes evil-doers, not out of revenge or enmity, but to protect others and prevent more wrong-doing.

In the past, grudges were held for centuries and passed down from one generation to another, and punishments given out of revenge and vengeance.  Even today, many employees in penal institutions treat prisoners badly because they don’t deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.  When I remember to leave justice in the hands of the Institutions and trust God to deal with those who have hurt me, I am free to forgive and move on with my life.

Knowing that I’m not responsible for justice, 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 Anger and Bitterness

 

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Contact with the Ungodly  

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

Shoghi Effendi explains this better than I can:

In the passage ‘eschew all fellowship with the ungodly, ‘Bahá’u’lláh means that we should shun the company of those who disbelieve in God and are wayward. The word ‘ungodly’ is a reference to such perverse people. The words ‘Be thou as a flame of fire to My enemies and a river of life eternal to My loved ones’, should flee from the enemies of God and instead seek the fellowship of His lovers.  (Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 200)

Before reading Shoghi Effendi’s explanation, I used this Hidden Word to consider whether or how much time I should spend with the people who’d abused me so terribly in childhood.  Because I didn’t deem their behavior “righteous” or “godly”, I felt as if this was giving me permission to avoid them.  However, these people were Godly in that they made sure I learned about God, so I could see there was a difference between what they believed and how they lived their lives, which was confusing.

I like Shoghi Effendi’s second part of this quote, where we “seek the fellowship of His lovers”, which reminds me to spend my time with other Bahá’ís and those whose behavior matches their beliefs.  This is easier to follow!

Spending my time with God’s lovers makes me feel safe and loved and protected, 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 Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies on Kindle

You might also like to read Who are the Ungodly and Why Should We Avoid Them?  

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I am Seen

O Friends! Verily I say, whatsoever ye have concealed within your hearts is to Us open and manifest as the day; but that it is hidden is of Our grace and favour, and not of your deserving.      (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian  60)

When I was a child, I was taught this song.  The first verse goes like this:  “God sees the little sparrow fall, it meets his tender view; if God so loves the little birds, I know he loves me too.”

The implication was that He is All-Knowing and All-Seeing.  I didn’t feel seen by God, though.  For years, I’d prayed for the abuse in my family to stop and it only got worse, so I really believed that just like other families were different than ours, God’s relationship with me was different too.

When I read the above quote, it gave me great comfort, because it suggested that even know no one had ever called my parents to account for the terrible things they did, God saw them all.  This let me rest in His justice and His timing.

When I looked at it through the eyes of my own sins, it also gave me comfort:  He knows what I’m thinking and doing, good and bad, and it’s hidden from others as a protection from my ego, and until such time as I can ask for His forgiveness.

God sees me and protects me and loves me and is continually showering His favor on 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 Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies 

 

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Definition of Forgiveness

So what Christ meant by forgiveness and magnanimity is not that if another nation were to assail you; burn your homes; plunder your possessions; assault your wives, children, and kin; and violate your honour, you must submit to that tyrannical host and permit them to carry out every manner of iniquity and oppression. Rather, the words of Christ refer to private transactions between two individuals, stating that if one person assaults another, the injured party should forgive. But the body politic must safeguard the rights of man. (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed. p. 77)

When I first came into the Faith someone introduced me to the idea that “If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him.” (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 453), so I thought everything I needed to know about forgiveness was embedded in this quote.  To compound the problem was the reputation that Bahá’ís (and Canadians) have of “being nice”.  So being nice and being a good Bahá’í meant I was to instantly forgive.  I knew I wasn’t at that standard.  There were things that happened in my childhood that I couldn’t forgive.  As a child, I did “submit to a tyrannical host and permit them to carry out every manner of iniquity and oppression” and no one safeguarded my rights.  So where did that fit in?  Sadly, in the many decades since, children are still being abused in their homes and society is doing little to protect them or to bring the perpetrators to justice and even when they do, the sentences don’t usually match the severity of the crimes.  So what’s a Bahá’í to do?

I don’t understand (so I don’t like) the term “body politic”.  In a previous translation of this quote, the word “communities” was used instead.  So it seems clear.  The standard is for us to forgive what’s done to us AND the communities must safeguard our rights.  We’re not there yet as a society, but it’s helpful to know where the bar is to reach towards, so we can realign our thinking and our behavior.  I can’t stop the tyrannical hosts, but I can call 911.  I can reach out for help from the Institutions of the Faith.  I can help the “body politic” hold the perpetrators accountable and I can lobby on behalf of others.

Knowing I’m not powerless against a tyrannical host, 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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Poor Parenting

For example, you see that children born from a weak and feeble father and mother will naturally have a feeble constitution and weak nerves; they will be afflicted, and will have neither patience, nor endurance, nor resolution, nor perseverance, and will be hasty; for the children inherit the weakness and debility of their parents.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed. p. 57)

For those of us looking for evidence that “the sins of the fathers continue into the next generations”, this quote shows exactly how.

I grew up in a house with a violent, abusive alcoholic father and a passive, emotionally distant mother.  I vowed I was not going to repeat the abuses I endured when raising my son.  Sadly, though I was able to raise him in a home without alcohol or drugs and break the cycle of physical and sexual abuse, I still passed on the family dysfunction.

As someone who lives with a diagnosis of anxiety, depression and PTSD, I have definintely been afflicted with a “feeble constitution and weak nerves”!  I am impatient, particularly with the changes that take time, and with other people who don’t do what they’ve promised to do.  I make decisions in haste and am driven to get things done, seldom giving myself time to check in with God, through prayer and meditation.  Now that I know why, I can do something about it.

Knowing that the source of my problems come from inheriting the weakness and debility of my parents, I can have compassion for them and for myself, forgive and overcome 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 Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies      Print    Kindle

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