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Contact with Godly People

 O My Son! The company of the ungodly increaseth sorrow, whilst fellowship with the righteous cleanseth the rust from off the heart.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 56)

O Son Of Dust! Beware! Walk not with the ungodly and seek not fellowship with him, for such companionship turneth the radiance of the heart into infernal fire.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 57)

Growing up in an abusive home set me up for a lifetime of attracting the wrong kinds of people in my life, and finding the Bahá’í Faith reversed that tendency.  Sure, there are Bahá’ís who are abusive and hurt others, but by and large it’s inspiring to walk into a Bahá’í gathering and feel loved and accepted; to know that we’re all trying in our own limited ways to bring about the Most Great Peace.

I’ve read that our biggest spiritual tests come from other Bahá’ís, and our biggest growth comes from serving on Assemblies.  I think this is what Bahá’u’lláh means by “fellowship with the righteous cleanseth the rust from off the heart.”  It’s through rubbing up against other people’s weaknesses, for the sake of God, that we grow in our ability to love and worship God and develop the virtues we need in the next world.  I’d rather have that kind of test, than the test of hanging around the ungodly increase sorrow and have the radiance of my heart turned into infernal fire.

Knowing why it’s better to hang out with Godly people, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through 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 Abuse – Overcoming Abuse and Violence

 

 

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When to Leave a Marriage

There is a case recorded where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote to a Western believer who had sought His advice. She was told that she should remain faithful and forbearing towards her husband but, should his cruelty become unendurable, she should leave him to himself and live separately from him, as this was better and more accept­able.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 22 July, 1987)

We know from the Bahá’í Writings that even though divorce is “abhorred by God; “strongly condemned”; “very strongly frowned upon; “only under rare and urgent, very exceptional and unbearable circumstances be resorted to”; and that “you should … make every effort to hold your marriage together, especially for the sake of your children”,  it’s also “permissible after “prayer and self-sacrificing effort” and after “the lapse of one full year”.  When my marriage was over, I often wondered:  Are there exceptions to the rule?  That’s why this quote was so helpful.

Although my husband wasn’t deliberately cruel, his actions inadvertently triggered my childhood trauma and I no longer felt safe in the marriage.  It was a great comfort to know that while being faithful and forbearing towards him, that leaving him to himself and living separately was better and more acceptable in God’s eyes. This year of patience (or year of waiting) gave me the time I needed to consult with the Institutions, deepen in the Writings on marriage and divorce, pray and determine whether or not I felt “irreconcilable aversion and antipathy”.

Knowing I belong to a Faith that understands my situation and gives me guidance on what to do, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through 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 Abuse and Violence  Kindle

 

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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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Knowing Myself

He hath known God who hath known himself.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 178)

Of all of the quotes that encourage us to get to know ourselves, this is perhaps the most compelling for me, since the purpose of our lives is to know God!

For most of my life, when I wasn’t mad at God for not stopping the abuse or for not letting me do what I’d been praying fervently for assistance to do, I believed only in a punishing God or a God who kept score, so I had to constantly be earning “spiritual brownie points” to guarantee myself a better life in the next world.  “Knowing” this kind of God gave me all the permission in the world to continue the abuse I’d known as a child, by beating myself up for not being able to reach an impossibly high standard!

With this quote, I have all the permission I need, to get to know myself, and to see myself through the eyes of a loving God, who wants only the best for me.  How do I do this?  There are many ways, and each person will find their own way.  I do it through prayer and meditation, service, writing these meditations, therapy, and 12-Step Recovery.

Knowing God helps me to know myself, 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 Overcoming Abuse and Violence    Kindle

 

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Confronting our Abusers

Consort with all men, O people of Bahá, in a spirit of friend­liness and fellowship. If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and good-will. If it be accepted, if it fulfil its purpose, your object is attained. If any one should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal un­kindly with him. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 289)

When I was confronting my parents about the abuse I sustained as a child, I unfortunately took my examples from the prevailing wisdom of the day, which said, tell them what you remember, what you want from them and what you will do if they don’t comply.  Needless to say, this approach got their backs up; they attempted to have me declared crazy and have my son taken away from me, and then when that didn’t work, they put a wedge between my siblings and I and cut me out of their lives.  I never saw any of my family after that.

As a good Bahá’í, it always bothered me that this action created so much estrangement in our family.  If I couldn’t have unity in my own family, how on earth could I help bring it to the world?

I wish I’d had the awareness and spiritual maturity called for in today’s quote.  Inside of coming on strong with threats, I could have approached them from a place of kindness and curiosity.  Unfortunately I was so full of hate and resentment and unforgiveness that there was no place in my heart for God, or love or friendliness or fellowship.  I have left them to themselves and pray for them.  It’s the best I can do for my family, but I have learned from my mistake and take care of the forgiveness first, before talking to anyone about a difficult matter.

Knowing I can talk to people kindly and if I’m rebuffed, I can leave them in God’s hands, I am filled with peace, 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      Kindle

 

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Fleeing from Denial

 Shall we not flee from the face of denial, and seek the sheltering shadow of certitude?  Shall we not free ourselves from the horror of satanic gloom, and hasten towards the rising light of the heavenly Beauty? (Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 38)

As someone who was abused severely in childhood, I learned early how to dissociate away from the terror and anger I felt and have gone through adult life using work and busyness to numb the pain.  I have been in deep denial for much of my life about what happened and more importantly, the impacts it’s had on my life.  At times I look at this quote and realize the bounties of certitude and then it becomes too much to bear, and I get busy with work and service again.

This is an important quote though and I think it’s part of justice.  When I can see through my own eyes and stand squarely in my truth, I can be more fully present with others.  The horror of the satanic gloom will look different to everyone but the emotions it leaves behind (fear, self-pity, anger, bitterness) are common.  They are the points of unity in our stories.  When we flee from denial, we can stand together with others and change the world.

Knowing that the rising light of the heavenly beauty is always better than denial, 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      Kindle

 

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