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5 Steps to Overcoming Setbacks

We note that, as learning accelerates, the friends grow more capable of overcoming setbacks, whether small or large—diagnosing their root causes, exploring the underlying principles, bringing to bear relevant experience, identifying remedial steps, and assessing progress, until the process of growth has been fully reinvigorated.  (Universal House of Justice, to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counselors, 29 December 2015)

I always LOVE learning practical steps I can take in times of need, and this quote is one I want to have handy all the time.  Embedded in it are 5 steps I can take whenever life throws me a curve ball:

  1. diagnose the root cause
  2. explore the underlying principles
  3. bring in relevant experience
  4. identify remedial steps
  5. assess progress

The wonderful thing about having something concrete to do, is that I often become paralyzed when obstacles are put in my path, or think I have to figure everything out myself, which feels more like paddling upstream.  I might think the roadblocks means it’s not God’s will or it’s not the right time, so I procrastinate or give up my goals entirely.

The House of Justice has given this quote to the Counselors, to guide us towards achieving the goals of the plan, but I think it can be used for anytime I’m faced with a hurdle to get over.

Knowing what to do when life puts obstacles in my path, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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It’s OK to Feel Anxiety and Grief

To rise above the disappointments, obstacles, and pain which we experience in serving the Cause is difficult enough, but to be called on, in doing so, to be happy and confident is perhaps the keenest spiritual test any of us can meet. The lives of the Founders of our Faith clearly show that to be fundamentally assured does not mean that we live without anxieties, nor does being happy mean that there are not periods of deep grief when, like the Guardian, we wrap ourselves in a blanket, pray and supplicate, and give ourselves time for healing in preparation for the next great effort. (Shoghi Effendi, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 117)

In my meditation this morning, I was reminded of this quote, which is exactly the healing remedy I need for today.  Living with anxiety means I often feel guilty and judge myself harshly when I just read the first part of quotes like these.  Because it’s in the Writings, I make it black or white and live with a lot of guilt when I can’t reach the standards.  Not only do I have to rise above my disappointments, obstacles, and pain but I have to be happy and confident in doing it.  Either I’m doing it this way all the time, and I’m good or I’m falling short even once and I’m bad.

It’s so easy for me to beat myself up as being a “bad Bahá’í” especially when I start worrying about everyday concerns, or need to take time for healing, and I’m trying to stop this form of abasement.  This quote reminds me that if the Founders of our Faith can live with anxieties and grief, then so too can this lowly servant.  If even these people with superpowers I’ll never have also had moments where they felt the weight of their lives and needed time to recover their strength after some great disappointment, then it’s OK for me too.  If God didn’t punish them, then surely He isn’t going to punish me either!

Letting go of my need to be perfect, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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Bury Your Fears

Let no excessive self-criticism or any feeling of inadequacy, inability or inexperience hinder you or cause you to be afraid. Bury your fears in the assurances of Bahá’u’lláh.  (Universal House of Justice, Ridván Message, April 1995)

This is not a Faith for the faint-hearted.  I don’t think I’m alone in sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the tasks in front of us as Baha’is.  All the laws, injunctions and ordinances we need to pay attention to and implement in our lives, all the messages we need to read, absorb and act on; all the community building activities we need to engage in, all while learning how to serve and consult; juggling education, career and family life and somehow trying to live in a place of moderation, can be more than any of us can bear!  This global enterprise at the grass roots level has never been done before.  Of course we don’t know what we’re doing!  Of course we have moments where we feel inadequate, inexperienced and unable to do the tasks in front of us!  This is only natural.

The thing we need to remember is that we’re not doing it alone.  God is directing it, the Concourse on High is assisting us, the Universal House of Justice is continually giving us guidance to steer the course, the Institutions are charged with implementing the plans for the community to carry out.  Although this is a Faith of individual initiative, all of our initiatives are assisted by so many people seen and unseen.  We can do this, as long as we remember to “bury our fears in the assurances of Baha’u’llah”.  We need to remember that “armed with the power of Thy name, nothing can ever hurt me.”

Remembering I’m not in charge of moving the world towards the most great peace, I can bury my fears in God, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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Being and Doing

Experience suggests that a discussion about contributing to the betterment of society fails to tap the deepest springs of motivation if it excludes exploration of spiritual themes. The importance of “doing”, of arising to serve and to accompany fellow souls, must be harmonized with the notion of “being”, of increasing one’s understanding of the divine teachings and mirroring forth spiritual qualities in one’s life. (Universal House of Justice, to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, 29 December 2015)

As a recovering workaholic, I’ve learned that I use “doing” (work, service, activities) as a drug to numb my feelings.  When I’m not doing, I feel anxious, flooded with emotions from past trauma that I’d rather not feel or experience.  When I’m not using the addiction to “doing”, I numb out with food, reading escape fiction, watching mindless television or playing phone games.  None of this is pure hearted work-as-worship.

I’m learning to include the following in my life to help me “be”, so I can feel spiritually centrered, happy and healthy:  prayer, meditation, fasting, studying the Baha’i Writings, tutoring study circles, journaling, spending time with other Baha’is, and working on my blog and books.  When I take time to “be”, I fill up my bucket and am able to go back to arising to serve and accompany fellow souls, mirroring forth spiritual qualities in a healthy, more God-oriented way.

Knowing that by giving myself permission to just “be”, I am better able to arise to serve and accompany others, I can relax 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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A New (to me) Definition of Service

At the same time we must be sensitive to the fact that Bahá’í artists may sometimes feel outside the mainstream of community life because they are unsure as to what form their service might take. They may feel their contributions are not valued if service to the Faith tends to be equated only with serving on committees or Assemblies.   (letter from the International Teaching Centre addressed to the Continental Counsellors, date unknown)

Most of my service to the Faith is done online, through this blog and my books, and through interactions with my readers and not at the level of my (inactive, pre-milestone one cluster).  It’s easy for me to beat myself up for not serving in the “right” way, especially when the statistics officer calls and wants to know which core activities are happening.  This quote really brought comfort to my heart, hearing this from an Institution of the Faith, even if it’s not “authoritative”, I can’t find the date and I can’t find it online.

Then I came across this “new” definition of service, which I’d never seen before, and which takes all the pressure off my concerns about not serving at the cluster level.  Here’s the quote:

…every aspect of a person’s life is an element of his or her service to Baha’u’llah: the love and respect one has for one’s parents; the pursuit of one’s education; the nurturing of good health; the acquiring of a trade or profession; one’s behavior towards others and the upholding of a high moral standard; one’s marriage and the bringing up of one’s children; one’s activities in teaching the Faith and the building up the strength of the Baha’i community, whether this be in such simple matters as attending the Nineteen Day Feast or the observance of Baha’i Holy Days, or in more demanding tasks required by service in the administration of the Faith; and, not least, to take time each day to read the Writings and say the Obligatory Prayer, which are the source of growing spiritual strength, understanding, and attachment to God.  (The Universal House of Justice, December 7, 1992, European Baha’i Youth Council)

Here are the 12 elements of service embedded in this quote:

Service to Bahá’u’lláh includes:

  1. the love and respect one has for one’s parents
  2. the pursuit of one’s education
  3. the nurturing of good health
  4. the acquiring of a trade or profession
  5. one’s behavior towards others
  6. the upholding of a high moral standard
  7. one’s marriage
  8. the bringing up of one’s children
  9. one’s activities in teaching the Faith
  10. building up the strength of the Baha’i community (attending the Nineteen Day Feasts or Holy Days, or in more demanding tasks required by service in the administration of the Faith)
  11. to take time each day to read the Writings
  12. to take time each day to say the Obligatory Prayer

Knowing I can relax and stop feeling guilty for not more actively participating in the community building process, particularly at the cluster level, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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The Inevitability of Tests

Everything of importance in this world demands the close attention of its seeker. The one in pursuit of anything must undergo difficulties and hardships until the object in view is attained and the great success is obtained. This is the case of things pertaining to the world. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Divine Art of Living, p. 92)

I love it when the Bahá’í Writings tell us a secret of life and this reading is one of those times.  We will have difficulties and hardships.  It’s the way God created the world.  This is a relief because when they come, I don’t have to take them personally.  I don’t have to wail or gnash my teeth.  I don’t have to fall into hopeless helpless despair.  I just have to turn them over to God and get on with my day, praying to take the next right action.

I need to remember that the purpose of my life is to know and worship God and develop the virtues I’ll need in the next world.  When life is easy, we often forget God, but in our difficulties, when we can see no way out, is when we remember and reach out in prayer.  It’s in our difficulties that we grow, both closer to God and in the virtues we need.  This morning I’m growing in patience, faith, trust, hope and long suffering.  What are you growing in?

Knowing tests are inevitable, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

Help Keep This Site Alive