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Understanding the Tests in our Communities

Often these trials and tests which all Bahá’í communities inevitably pass through seem terrible, at the moment, but in retrospect we understand that they were due to the frailty of human nature, to misunderstandings, and to the growing pains which every Bahá’í community must experience. (From a letter dated 25 November 1956 written on his behalf to an individual believer, in Living the Life, p. 49)

Sometimes when our Bahá’í community goes through periods of tests, it’s easy to think that we’re the only community in this situation, so it’s comforting to know that it’s just something every community must go through.  I’ve often thought that when an Assembly is formed, they ought to be given a list of everything that could possibly go wrong, so that they could anticipate it and cross it off the list when it happens.  This list of reasons is also a helpful reminder, so that I don’t have to take anything personally.  The causes are:

  • the frailty of human nature
  • misunderstandings
  • growing pains

When I know the causes, I can find the spiritual solutions.  For the frailty of the people involved perhaps forgiveness, compassion and understanding are required.  Where there are misunderstandings, better communication is needed, perhaps involving a mediator if this would be helpful.  For growing pains, an understanding of crisis and victory as well as patience could help.

Knowing there are spiritual solutions for every problem, 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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Choosing to Accept God’s Blessings

If the heart turns away from the blessings God offers how can it hope for happiness? If it does not put its hope and trust in God’s Mercy, where can it find rest? Oh, trust in God! for His Bounty is everlasting, and in His Blessings, for they are superb. Oh! put your faith in the Almighty, for He faileth not and His goodness endureth for ever! His Sun giveth Light continually, and the Clouds of His Mercy are full of the Waters of Compassion with which He waters the hearts of all who trust in Him. His refreshing Breeze ever carries healing in its wings to the parched souls of men! Is it wise to turn away from such a loving Father, Who showers His blessings upon us, and to choose rather to be slaves of matter?  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 102-103)

This is another one of those life-changing quotes for me as I came to understand that if I wasn’t grateful for the blessings constantly streaming down for me from God right now, why would He send me any more?  The more I live in gratitude, the more things I find to be grateful for, and the happier I become.

At a time when I was pretty depressed and couldn’t see any hope for a future in this world, I developed a habit of finding 5 things to be grateful for before getting out of bed in the morning; and 5 more before falling asleep at night.  Some days were harder than others to find the bounties and blessings, but the more I persisted, the more often I found myself thanking God in the moment, during the day, as I caught them.

If you’re having trouble thinking of any, this quote has a few to get you started:

  • God’s bounties are everlasting (meaning they last longer than any material thing we might think we absolutely have to have)
  • His blessings are superb
  • He never fails us
  • His goodness endures forever
  • His Sun gives Light continually
  • The Clouds of God’s Mercy are full of the Waters of Compassion
  • He waters the hearts of all who trust in Him
  • His refreshing Breeze carries healing

Just reading that list makes me feel better!  How about you?

Knowing I don’t have to be a slave to my doubt and negativity and can choose to look for God’s bounties and blessings which are everywhere, 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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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

 

 Help Keep This Site Alive