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Remembering God

Lament not in your hours of trial, neither rejoice therein; seek ye the Middle Way which is the remembrance of Me in your afflictions and reflections over that which may befall you in future. Thus informeth you, He Who is Omniscient, He Who is Aware.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 15)

As someone who has spent a great deal of her life feeling sorry for herself, it was surprising to read that I’m neither to lament when life is going badly or rejoice when it’s going well.  This reminds me of a Hidden Word which says something similar:

Be not troubled in poverty nor confident in riches, for poverty is followed by riches, and riches are followed by poverty.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 51)

So it seems in life we need both the good and the bad, and both serve their purposes, which is to draw us closer to God and help us acquire the virtues we’ll need in the next world.  When we live in the middle way, there’s no need to regret the past or fear the future.  We can live in this present moment, in which everything is perfectly all right, and trust the next moment to God.

I often gloss over the endings of quotes and prayers, so let’s not do that this time and look what Bahá’u’lláh is teaching us:  He is aware of things we can never understand, because He is the Omniscient.

When God teaches me how to behave, I can trust that this way is perfect for 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      Kindle

 

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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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Contact with Abusers

Such an attitude (forgiveness and insight into their actions) does not preclude your being prudent in deciding upon the appropriate amount of contact with your parents.  In reaching your decision you should be guided by such fac­tors as their degree of remorse over what they inflicted on you in the past, the extent of their present involvement in practices which are so contrary to Bahá’í Teachings, and the level of vulnerability you per­ceive within yourself to being influenced adversely by them.  In the process of reaching a decision, you may well find it useful to seek the advice of experts such as your therapist.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to me, 9 September, 1992)

When I first came out of denial about the extent of abuse I’d experienced as a child at the hands of my parents, I had a lot of confusion about what a “good Bahá’í” was supposed to do.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told us we must “instantly forgive”; the Bab told us whatever we did for our parents we’d get back a thousand-fold; Bahá’u’lláh told us that if we had a choice between serving Him or serving our parents, we should serve our parents as a path leading us to God.  So I thought this meant that I was to look after them in their old age, which felt impossible, since I couldn’t forgive them and I was terrified to be in their presence.  I wrote to the House of Justice for their guidance and this quote, is what they told me.

It was so helpful to have 3 criteria I could use in my decision, and this has helped me (and many others who’ve seen this quote) understand the right path for a Bahá’í to take in these situations:

  • their degree of remorse
  • the extent of their present involvement in practices contrary to Bahá’í Teachings
  • the level of vulnerability I perceive within myself to being influenced adversely by them

It was also helpful to know I could consult with therapists about this issue.  I didn’t have to try to figure it out myself, or even through prayer.  I could consult experts.

I can be prudent in deciding on how contact I need to have with my abusers, 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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Facing Bullies 

Say: Beware, O people of Bahá lest the strong ones of the earth rob you of your strength, or they who rule the world fill you with fear. Put your trust in God, and commit your affairs to His keeping. He, verily, will, through the power of truth, render you victorious, and He, verily, is powerful to do what He willeth, and in His grasp are the reins of omnipotent might.  (Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p.  69)

As a child, I experienced a lot of abuse in my family which left me with an unhealthy fear of authority figures.  If someone said or did something, or even looked at me the wrong way, it triggered my terror and I was no longer able to be present as an adult in the interaction.  I was paralyzed with fear and it took all my energy to “take it”, whatever form the “it” took.

This quote helps me to realize that God doesn’t want me to let the strong ones of the earth rob me of my strength or fill me with fear.  He wants me to lean on His strength and protection.  As a child, I was truly defenseless against the bullies and perpetrators of abuse but as an adult I have a lot more choices (and laws) at my disposal.  With God on my side, I can do anything.

Knowing that when I lean on God, I can’t fail, 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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Retreating to Recover 

Many times when Shoghi Effendi was intensely distressed, I saw him go to bed, refusing to eat or drink, refusing to talk, rolled under his covers, unable to do anything but agonize, like someone beaten to the ground by heavy rain; this condition sometimes lasted for days, until forces within himself would adjust the balance and set him on his feet again. He would be lost in a world of his own where no one could follow.  (Rúhíyyih Rabbani, The Priceless Pearl, p. 45)

Early on in my recovery, I dealt with the overwhelming rush of emotions too big for me to handle, by retreating to my bed to find some degree of safety and comfort.  I never felt good about it though, because of the urgency I felt to serve the Faith to the exclusion of everything else.  I totally believed that if I didn’t do my part (and the parts of those who were inactive), then I personally would be responsible for delaying the Most Great Peace.  I also believed that I needed to meet the high standards of the Faith in every single area, in order to earn enough “spiritual brownie points” to guarantee me a good place in the next world.  Because I wasn’t able to achieve either of these things, I judged myself quite harshly until I found this quote.

If Shoghi Effendi could take time out from the all the pressures he was under and still accomplish great things for the Faith, maybe I could cut myself some slack for doing the same thing.  It reminds me a bit of a feral animal, when frightened or hurt, often retreats to a safe hiding spot.  Maybe this is an inborn gift from our Creator.  Maybe taking time to retreat until God is able to adjust the balance and set me on my feet again is a healthy coping strategy.

Knowing I can honor my body’s need to retreat to recover, 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

Help Keep This Site Alive