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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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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 

 

Help Keep This Site Alive