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Reassurance

 

I swear by My life! Nothing save that which profiteth them can befall My loved ones. To this testifieth the Pen of God, the Most Powerful, the All-Glorious, the Best Beloved.  (Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p.  69)

This is a really hard quote for those who want answers to “why is this happening to me?”  No matter what life throws at us, the bottom line is that it’s happening to profit us.  Somehow, it’s for our good, and that can be hard medicine to swallow, especially when we’re going through really hard times.  I’ve come to understand that all of our tests serve 2 purposes:  to draw us closer to God and to help us acquire the virtues we’ll need in the next world.

When my brother was killed and my daughter died and I suffered through years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, I felt like a victim and even for many years, blamed God.  If there was a God, (and for many years I couldn’t accept that there was), how could He do these things to me?  I’ve come to realize that God doesn’t think the way we do.  I will never understand why He gave us free will and then stood by watching what mankind would do with it.  But with these quotes, and others like it, I’ve come to recognize that my life is better with God in it.  I can more easily handle everything that comes my way, I can appreciate that it’s strengthened my relationship to him, and no doubt I’ve developed a lot of virtues, resilience among them.

Knowing that all my tests are for my benefit, 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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Money and Choices

We ask God to . . . raise them unto a station where the world and the lordship thereof shall not turn them aside from looking toward the Supreme Horizon, and where [anxiety for] gaining a livelihood and [providing] household goods shall not divert them from [the thought of] that day whereon the mountains shall be made like carpets . . . By My Lord, were I given the choice between the glory and opulence, the wealth and dignity, the ease and luxury wherein they are, and the distress and affliction wherein I am, I would certainly choose that wherein I am today, and I would not now exchange one atom of these afflictions for all that hath been created in the kingdom of production! Were it not for afflictions in the way of God My continuance would have no sweetness for Me, nor would My life profit Me.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablet to the Shah of Persia in A Traveler’s Narrative, p. 181)

In this prayer we’re asking God to raise us to a station.  What is a station?  In the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, (p. 107), Shoghi Effendi tells us that “if to an extent smaller than a needle’s eye the glory of that station were to be unveiled to mankind, every beholder would be consumed away in his longing to attain it.”  So because we’d be “consumed away in our longing to attain it”, it seems important to pay attention to what comes next.

The station we’re being called to here seems to be asking us to make a choice.  Do we want power and prestige (the world and the lordship thereof) or do we want to look towards the Supreme Horizon?  Do we want to look at the anxieties of today or where we want to be for all of eternity?  Bahá’u’lláh then clarifies – do we want glory, opulence, wealth, dignity, ease and luxury or do we want distress and affliction?  Of course we want a life of ease!  I think Bahá’u’lláh is telling us here it’s the wrong choice, though.  I can’t even see a “both/and”.  He doesn’t want me to exchange even one atom of my afflictions for what I perceive to be an easier life.  He’s more interested in where I will rest for eternity.  He wants me to have an eternity of sweetness.

Knowing there are benefits to a life of affliction, and I can choose 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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Everything in its Proper Time

There is one season to harrow the ground, another season to scatter the seeds, still another season to irrigate the fields and still an­other to harvest the crop. We must attend to these various kinds of activities in their proper seasons in order to become successful.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Consultation, p. 7)

I love this quote!  I forget the natural order of things.  I so often plant the seeds and expect the harvest to arrive immediately.  The material world has taught me to expect instant meals, instant banking, instant shopping – impulses are met quickly.  But God’s world is different.

It’s a reminder to slow down.  Stop rushing.  Stop being driven by the “to do” list.  Pray.  Listen to the promptings of the spirit for the next right action.  Remember that everything I am and everything I do is under the watchful care of a loving Father.  All’s right with the world.  This moment is perfect just as it is.  Breathe.  Take time to enjoy and be grateful for every season.  There’s no need to push things before they’re ready.  God’s got my back.  He’s in charge.

Remembering there’s no need to rush, 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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Mental Illness

 You must always remember, no matter how much you or others may be afflicted with mental troubles . . . that your spirit is healthy, near to our Beloved, and will in the next world enjoy a happy and normal state of soul . . . But in this world such illness is truly a heavy burden to bear! (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 282)

Some studies suggest that nearly 1 in 5 adults (in the US) will experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their lifetime,[1] and yet, they remain largely invisible in our Bahá’í communities.  That’s why this quote is so helpful to those suffering from mental illness, as well as families, friends and community members, wanting to know how to reassure and support.

There is such a stigma around this issue, and so many misunderstandings.  I’ve had well-meaning Bahá’ís tell me that my problems are all because of a lack of faith, or past sins and mis-behaviours, or because of a lack of engagement.  Many of us have heard that we’re mentally ill because of some spiritual weakness or lack of willpower.  To overcome it, we don’t need counselling or therapy, we just have to take medication, “pray harder and have more faith”.  This is not helpful!

Mental illness truly IS a heavy burden to bear, and it’s so comforting to see a Central Figure of the Bahá’í Faith acknowledge this fact.  I appreciate Shoghi Effendi letting me know that this is a problem of this world only, and doesn’t affect my spirit or my soul!  Sometimes in the midst of my mental dis-ease, and severe mental tests, it’s hard to feel close to God, to want to pray or to Fast or to take care of my financial obligations to the Fund and the Right of God.  It is very reassuring to know my spirit is healthy and near my Beloved, even when I can’t take care of my obligations.

Trusting my spirit is healthy and near my Beloved, I can relax and be 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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[1] https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

God’s Wings

Rest assured in the protection of God. He will preserve his own children under all circumstances. Be ye not afraid nor be ye agitated. He holds the scepter of power in His hand, and like unto a hen He gathereth his chickens under His wings . . . Now, friends, this is the time of assurance and faith and not fear and dread.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 8, No. 19, p. 241)

Recently I came across a list of 541 common fears and phobias and no doubt, more are being identified all the time.  As part of my recovery from workaholism, I had to put together a list of my own fears, and was challenged to come up with at least 100 and with the help of that online resource, it wasn’t hard.  I had no idea my life (and other people’s too) was ruled by so much fear.

It doesn’t help the the news and social media are fanning the flames of fear about terrorism, crime, health and safety concerns, climate change, identity theft, immigration, global warming, nuclear war, economic disaster and more.  It’s easy to make fear our god and let it rule our lives.  In that moment, it’s easy to forget to turn to God.

The world isn’t going to come to an end.  Bahá’u’lláh has promised that His Revelation is moving us towards the Golden Age and the Most Great Peace.  Everything happening in the world is just the necessary decline of the old world order, so something better can be built up in its stead.

Whenever I’m feeling afraid and lonely, I remember that this moment is all there is and in this moment, everything is perfectly fine.  In this moment, I have a roof over my head and food in my belly.  I can rest in the assurance of the protection of God.

Knowing I can ask ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to gather me under His wings whenever I’m afraid,  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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Choosing Joy

For instance, a merchant may lose his trade and depression ensues. A workman is dismissed and starvation stares him in the face. A farmer has a bad harvest, anxiety fills his mind. A man builds a house which is burnt to the ground and he is straightway homeless, ruined, and in despair.  All these examples are to show you that the trials which beset our every step, all our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter; whereas the spiritual Kingdom never causes sadness. A man living with his thoughts in this Kingdom knows perpetual joy.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 109-110).

Everyone has tests in life – it’s how we grow spiritually.  They remind us to turn towards God and result in developing the virtues we’ll need in the next world.  So they’re just a given.  We all get them.  So how can we be happy in the midst of them?  This quote gives us a clue.  It shows us that it’s our thoughts about the tests that are the problem.  All our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter.  Isn’t it interesting that even though these tests are a part of God’s plan, they aren’t meant to cause us sadness.  That’s our choice.  It reminds me of a story, which comes from the Taoist tradition (its origin is unknown.)

It’s a story of a farmer and his horse.  One day his horse runs away. And his neighbor comes over and says, to commiserate, “I’m so sorry about your horse.” And the farmer says “Who knows what’s good or bad?” The neighbor is confused because this is clearly terrible. The horse is the most valuable thing he owns.  But the horse comes back the next day and he brings with him 12 feral horses. The neighbor comes back over to celebrate, “Congratulations on your great fortune!” And the farmer replies again: “Who knows what’s good or bad?”  And the next day the farmer’s son is taming one of the wild horses and he’s thrown and breaks his leg. The neighbor comes back over, “I’m so sorry about your son.” The farmer repeats: “Who knows what’s good or bad?”  Sure enough, the next day the army comes through their village and is conscripting able-bodied young men to go and fight in war, but the son is spared because of his broken leg.  And this story can go on and on like that. Good. Bad. Who knows?

Nothing is accomplished by overanalyzing, overthinking, overplanning, overlabeling.  Labeling something good or bad only keeps me stuck.

When I keep my thoughts in the spiritual Kingdom I feel perpetual joy, no matter what life throws at 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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