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Understanding our Reality

Do thou reckon thyself only a puny form when within thee the universe is folded?  (Bahá’u’lláh, Seven Valleys, p. 34)

There are so many places in the Bahá’í Writings that talk of the reality of our being, and yet I continue to abase myself by focusing on my weakness and my frailty.  I do (most of the time) reckon myself a puny form, but this quote reminds me that God is closer to me than my life-vein and when I lean on Him for support, I can do anything.

Several years ago I was serving as a travel teacher in Canada’s arctic and got frost bite on my finger tips.  Now, whenever they are cold (every winter, even at 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, as I discovered today), they are so painful I can almost cry out with the pain.  I was in the middle of my walk and still had more than half an hour to get home.  I was doing everything I could think of to warm up my fingers, curling them up in my gloves, pulling my sleeve down over my hands, making space in my gloves between the ends of the fingers) and so on.  Finally, I was inspired to ask God to warm up my fingers and He did!  The pain disappeared and I was able to get home, enjoying the rest of my walk.  I think this kind of miracle is available to any of us, if we remember who we are.

Remembering that with God’s strength, all things are possible, I am grateful!

What miracles have you seen when you rely on God?  What else 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

 

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When Not to be Kind

 Strive ye, then, with all your heart to treat compassionately all humankind – except for those who have some selfish, private motive, or some disease of the soul. Kindness cannot be shown the tyrant, the deceiver, or the thief, because, far from awak­ening them to the error of their ways, it maketh them to continue in their perversity as before. No matter how much kindliness ye may expend upon the liar, he will but lie the more, for he believeth you to be deceived, while ye understand him but too well, and only remain silent out of your extreme compassion.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Art of Living, p. 74)

I’m helping a friend deal with this situation today.  She’s chosen to not attend her mother’s funeral because an abusive brother has seized control of the mother’s assets and charged her with a crime she didn’t commit.  She’s been made to feel unwelcome at the funeral.  It’s a hard day for her and for me as it brings up a lot of issues around my own brothers doing something similar, causing me to be notified of my mother’s (and father’s) deaths too late to attend, and resulting in my being cut out of my mother’s will too.  We have both chosen to act on this injunction:  to remain silent (and stay away so she isn’t tempted) out of extreme compassion for her own poor self.

Life is not fair!  There are people who are tyrants, liars and thieves and people who have selfish, private motives and diseases of the soul.  In these situations we can be confused about how to act.  Our first thought, after the shock wears off and we come out of denial about what’s been happening, is to want justice.  When we encounter the system in place in our societies today, we are further shocked to discover that the so-called “justice” system is in fact a “legal” system.  Big difference!

In other places in the Baha’i Writings, we see that God has pledged never to forgive another man’s injustice (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words Persian 64)

Knowing I can leave justice in God’s hands, I can let go of my need for revenge, and 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

 

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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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