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Whatever Hath Befallen You, Hath Been for the Sake of God  

Whatever hath befallen you, hath been for the sake of God. This is the truth, and in this there is no doubt. You should, therefore, leave all your affairs in His Hands, place your trust in Him, and rely upon Him. He will assuredly not forsake you. In this, likewise, there is no doubt. No father will surrender his sons to devouring beasts; no shepherd will leave his flock to ravening wolves. He will most cer­tainly do his utmost to protect his own. If, however, for a few days, in compliance with God’s all-encompassing wisdom, outward affairs should run their course contrary to one’s cherished desire, this is of no consequence and should not matter.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Crisis & Victory, p.  171)

A friend of mine once asked me how this quote addressed the issues of childhood abuse.  How can the abuse that has befallen me, be for the sake of God?  I think there are two issues at stake here:  one is the purpose of tests and difficulties and the other is the purpose of justice for the perpetrator.

There are many quotes which suggest that God will send “severe mental tests to the peoples of the West, to purge, purify and prepare them for their noble mission in life.”  (Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Administration, p. 50). The severe mental tests that came out of the abuse and violence I experienced as a child include all the negative chatter which can easily dominate my thinking:

  • Did it happen or didn’t it?
  • Some things are unforgiveable, and childhood sexual abuse is one of them
  • I was justified in estranging myself from my perpetrators
  • It’s ruined me for life
  • I’m obviously unloved and unloveable . . .

I can maximize the list, but it only abases me so I hope you get the idea!  God doesn’t want me to abase myself, but to recognize and reclaim my nobility so I can arise to serve His Cause.

God has promised to never forgive another man’s injustice, so I can leave the need for punishment and justice and revenge and karma in God’s hands and focus on my own spiritual growth by leaving all my affairs in His Hands and placing my whole trust in Him.

God wants us to give Him our full attention.  We can’t draw closer to God when we “busy ourselves with another” by focusing on our perpetrators and giving them more attention than we give to our “Creator, Friend and Best Lover”, any more than we can get to Chicago by looking in our rear-view mirrors.

Knowing that things going against my wishes are of no consequence and shouldn’t matter, 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 Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

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Man’s Highest Station

Man’s highest station, however, is attained through faith in God in every Dispensation and by acceptance of what hath been revealed by Him . . .

This quote came to my attention at just the right moment.  My life has been fraught with so much abuse, trauma, loss and disappointment that I often long for my next life to begin.  The Bahá’í Writings promise a much better life next time round and I’m looking forward to that.  I know that one of the purposes in this life is to acquire the virtues I’ll need in the next world, so some time ago, maybe when I was a new Bahá’í, I decided to set the bar high for myself, so that I could perfect as many virtues as possible, to acquire as many “spiritual brownie points” as possible to guarantee my best possible life in the next world.  The Writings are full of “if you do this, God will do that” and being a black and white thinker, I latched onto these and strove to put them all into practice, and then beat myself up mercilessly when I couldn’t reach the standards I thought were being set for me by the Writings and the ongoing guidance of the House of Justice.

Nowhere do I feel this more keenly than when the statistics officer calls and asks what service I’m offering to my mostly inactive, very white cluster with a handful of elderly Bahá’ís who don’t have the energy to participate anymore.  Because I haven’t been able to interest the local Bahá’ís or the wider community in the core activities, most of my service is in this online environment.  My articles for this blog and for the Bahá’í Teachings blog reach so many people that I can take comfort that I am participating in a mass teaching event, and I can view the online environment as my receptive population, but none of it counts in the statistics.  None of it helps my cluster get to milestone 2 (when we aren’t even at milestone 1 yet).  None of it can I find in the ongoing messages of the House of Justice.  All of this leads me into such deep despair that I burned out trying.

I believe that God is happy with my puny efforts, and can look Him in the eye when I get to the Pearly Gates.  I see evidence that He magnifies my teaching and service activities and sends me opportunities to serve in ways that unfold easily and effortlessly.  I know at some level that I can’t bargain with God for a better future, and slowly I’ve been learning about God’s infinite love, mercy and forgiveness of my sins.  I’m learning that I don’t need brownie points.  All of this flies out the window when I read the latest letter from the House of Justice and can’t find me and my efforts in it.  For some time, I’ve been praying most fervently for God to show me in the Writings that my efforts are OK.  Through this process, I’ve come to remember that my purpose in life is to know and worship God and not to get my cluster to milestone 2.

All of this to say that this quote seems to be what I was looking for.  I’ve already reached my highest station, because I have faith in God in every Dispensation and I totally accept everything that has been revealed by Him.  Thank you God for answered prayers.  Please help me remember, so I can stop abasing myself!

Knowing I’ve already reached the highest station there is, I can stop judging 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 Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

If You Like What You Read, Please Help Keep This Site Alive

 

One Person Can’t Do Everything

A unity in diversity of actions is called for, a condition in which different individuals will concentrate on different activities, appreciating the salutary effect of the aggregate on the growth and development of the Faith, because each person cannot do everything and all persons cannot do the same thing.  (The Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 80)

I live in a tiny cluster, maybe 25 Baha’is on paper, mostly inactive.  It used to be a very active cluster when we all had kids at home, but they grew up and most of them left the Faith.  Those left behind couldn’t deal with the change in the direction the teaching work took, once we formalized clusters and started the community building process.

I was one of the first group of tutors in Canada to be trained and stayed current with the letters of the House of Justice and tried valiantly to bring the rest of the community along.  When they wouldn’t, I started taking on jobs that weren’t mine to do and burned out.

I too, have become mostly inactive, but definitely not apathetic.  I still say my prayers, read the Writings, Fast, donate to the Fund, take care of my obligations to the Right of God – all the basics.  I just don’t have the bandwidth to participate in study circles or devotional gatherings anymore.  I want to say “as a result”, our cluster is not even at milestone one, but I realize it’s not my fault.  I can’t make it happen all by myself.  That’s why I love this quote so much.

It reminds me I can’t do everything.  I tried!  In order to get to milestone one, we need a diversity of actions, with different individuals concentrating on different activities.  Until we have this, no real progress can be made.  Please God, hasten the day!

Knowing that one person can’t do everything, I can relax, trust that God loves 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 Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

If You Like What You Read, Please Help Keep This Site Alive

 

 

Abuse Happens when We Come From our Lower Nature 

As a devoted believer you are urged to strive to develop forgiveness in your heart toward your parents who have abused you in so disgraceful a manner, and to attain a level of insight which sees them as captives of their lower nature, whose actions can only lead them deeper into unhappiness and separation from God. By this means, you can liberate yourself from the anger to which you refer in your letter, and foster your own spiritual development.   (Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, to this author, 9 September 1992)

The first time my heart was broken was when I was first sexually abused by my father, and hearing my mother say in response: “I wish she’d never been born.”  With this criticism, I believed it was my fault.  Neither the abuse, nor her hurtful comment had anything to do with me, though I believed it did.

For over 50 years, I told myself things like “you’re unlovable”; “you deserve to be used for sex”; “life will always be like this” etc.  As a small child, these statements made sense as I was trying to make sense of the world the only way I knew how.  As an adult, though, the House of Justice taught me that I had to learn to separate their actions from the meaning I gave to them.  I came to realize that these beliefs (and more) were just lies coming from my lower nature, and I would be just as responsible to God for the “abuse” I was heaping on myself; as my parents would be for the abuse they heaped on me!   The scale of the sin might be different, but we were all acting from our lower natures.

Once I realized that my parent’s abusive actions arose from their lower natures, which hooked into my lower nature (when I believed the abuse had anything to do with me), I was able to get free of both my anger and my self-pity.

Learning that when I can attain this level of insight, I free myself from criticism and anger; and foster my spiritual development, 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 Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

 

Showing Our Love by Obedience

On no subject are the Bahá’í teachings more emphatic than on the necessity to abstain from faultfinding and backbiting while being ever eager to discover and root out our own faults and overcome our own failings. If we profess loyalty to Bahá’u’lláh, to our Beloved Master and our dear Guardian, then we must show our love by obedience to these explicit teachings. Deeds not words are what they demand, and no amount of fervour in the use of expressions of loyalty and adulation will compensate for failure to live in the spirit of the teachings. (From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, pp. 5–7)

During this worldwide pandemic, a lot of people around me, including some of my closest friends, have been taking a lot more risks than I’m comfortable with and I have found myself filled with criticism and judgement, leading to a lot of estrangement between us.  This morning, I find myself wanting to talk to one of them, and am rehearsing in my head what I want to say – mostly centered around the fact that there’s a big difference between being afraid that I might get or give the virus to others, and being obedient to the government.  I want to align with and honor the sacrifices of my Bahá’í brothers and sisters in Iran, or in Germany during the Nazi regime or in South Africa, during apartheid, where Baha’i’s might not approve of the government’s policies, but have steadfastly been obedient at horrific expense to themselves.

Obviously, I can’t make the call when I’m feeling so critical and judgmental.  I don’t want to even reach out to others for support in what to say, because that would be backbiting, which is a sin far worse than the risks they are willing to take in their lack of obedience to the government.  I may not like what others are doing, and I may even feel alone in my decision to adhere to the directives and feel lonely as a result, and even still, I will take a deep breath and give all of it to God, so that I can stop even breathing in the sins of others.

Reading the Writings morning and night and finding exactly the right quote when I need it the most, 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 Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

Plowing our own Fields

If we allow our attention and energy to be taken up in efforts to keep others right and remedy their faults, we are wasting precious time. We are like ploughmen each of whom has his team to manage and his plough to direct, and in order to keep his furrow straight he must keep his eye on his goal and concentrate on his own task. If he looks to this side and that to see how Tom and Harry are getting on and to criticize their ploughing, then his own furrow will assuredly become crooked.  (From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, pp. 5–7)

I love this quote because I seldom see Shoghi Effendi use English idioms such as “Tom, Dick and Harry”.  It seems unlikely that Tom and Harry are Persian names!  So everytime I read this quote, it makes me giggle.  I also love the imagery.  It’s so easy to see the ploughmen looking to this side and that, and the furrows weaving all over the place.  Don’t we all do that?  Don’t we all have a tendency to look around and compare ourselves to others, and either feel superior or less-than?  I’ve heard it called “compare and despair” and that’s what it feels like to me.  When I’m in despair, I lose motivation to do anything, which is definitely wasting precious time.  As Bahá’ís, we don’t have any time to waste.  You may remember memorizing this quote in Ruhi Book 4:

There is no time to lose. There is no room left for vacillation. Multitudes hunger for the Bread of Life . . . God’s own Plan has been set in motion. It is gathering momentum with every passing day . . .  Such an opportunity is irreplaceable . . . To try, to persevere, is to insure ultimate and complete victory.  (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, #75)

We’ve been given a Plan, which all of the Institutions are asking us to win in the next few months.  That’s the big goal we need to keep focused on.  With God’s help, we’ll win it, to honor the efforts of the Bicentennials.

Remembering where to keep my eye focused, 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 Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

Help Keep This Site Alive