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Praying for Those Who’ve Hurt Us

O God, my God! Lowly, suppliant and fallen upon my face, I beseech Thee with all the ardor of my invocation to pardon whosoever hath hurt me, forgive him that hath conspired against me and offended me, and wash away the misdeeds of them that have wrought injustice upon me. Vouchsafe unto them Thy goodly gifts, give them joy, relieve them from sorrow, grant them peace and prosperity, give them Thy bliss and pour upon them Thy bounty.  Thou art the Powerful, the Gracious, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Will and Testament, p. 19)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá teaches “If someone commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him.”  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 453)  For a long time I harbored a LOT of anger and resentment and bitterness to those who abused me as a child and stole my adulthood.  I couldn’t “instantly forgive”.  I wasn’t ready to let them off the hook.  I wanted justice.  I wanted revenge!  Slowly, I learned about the importance of forgiveness, not for the other person, but for ourselves.  I wanted peace in my heart.  I wanted to be obedient to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s injunction.  For a long time, the most I could do was to ask God to forgive them for me, because I couldn’t (or wouldn’t). I was happy to find this prayer when I needed it.

I love that it asks God to forgive but then goes an important step further – that He give them 6 things:

  • His goodly gifts
  • Joy
  • To be relieved from sorrow
  • peace and prosperity
  • His bliss
  • His bounty

Then He reminds us that He has the power and is gracious enough to use it for me.  He’s the one I turn to when my soul and heart are in peril and He’s all I need.  I love the endings to these prayers too.  They help me draw closer to God as I think that if He’s willing to give His enemies these gifts, please God, may He give them to me too.

Knowing how to pray for those who hurt me, 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 Learning How to Forgive

 

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Molding the World and Being Affected By It

We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved.  Man is organic with the world.  His inner life molds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it . . . Through them [the Baha’i teachings] will the human heart be changed, and also our social environment provides the atmosphere in which we can grow spiritually and reflect in full the light of God.  (on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Compilation of Compilations, V1, #3.3)

I had to read this quote several times before I thought I might understand what Shoghi Effendi is saying.  Starting from the end and moving backwards, it reminds me that my social environment provides the atmosphere in which I can grow spiritually, but it also deeply affects my inner life.

As a highly sensitive introvert, I can only be out in the world a short time before the world’s negativity draws me under like an undertow and I need to isolate myself for awhile before I can regain my equilibrium and go out into the world again.  I’m like a cell phone that’s near the end of its life, unable to hold a charge for very long without needing to be plugged in again.

I used to compare myself to others, and to other Writings which urge us to be more and do more, which fed my addiction to beating myself up.  Now I’m more gentle with myself, forgiving myself, understanding that God created me as an introvert, and gave me unique tests to shape my character.  He knows my weakness and frailties and yet, He chose me to be part of His army of light, so it’s OK to need time to recharge my battery.

Now that I’m conscious of my own motives and God’s mercy and forgiveness, there’s no need to beat myself up, 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  Learning How to Forgive

 

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A New Way to Look at Forgiveness

The peerless example of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá merits close scrutiny in your quest for a sense of forgiveness; His abiding love for humanity, despite its wayward­ness and perversity, enabled Him to manifest sincere compassion and magnanimity to those who had brought Him distress and hardship.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 9 September, 1992)

This quote was from a letter written to me, at a time when I couldn’t forgive my parents for the abuse perpetrated on me as a child, yet wanting to “get it right” as a “good Baha’i”.  As a result, I researched many stories about how ‘Abdu’l-Baha forgave, which you can read in an earlier posting.

To sum up, He forgave with compassion and magnanimity; He forgave without wanting others to speak about it; He forgave by looking at situations with love; He forgave with kindness; He forgave through generosity; He forgave by giving gifts and He forgave by spending time with them.  On the other hand, there were times when He too, ran out of patience.  The idea that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá could run out of patience was very reassuring!  We’re held to this standard, but He too had His limits.

Knowing different ways on how to forgive, 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 Learning How to Forgive

 

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Beyond Forgiveness

We ought to show something more than forgiveness in meeting with the cruelties and strictures of our own lives. To be hurt and to forgive is saintly, but far beyond that is the power to comprehend and not be hurt. This power we may have ‑ acceptance without complaint, and it should become associated with our name ‑ we ought never be known to complain or lament. It is not that we would “make the best of things” but that we may find in everything, even in calamity itself, the germ of enduring wisdom.  (Bahiyyih Khánum, Bahá’í World, vol. 5, p.185)

While this quote is not authoritative, it comes from a source I admire and respect, as Bahiyyih Khánum exemplified every standard she asks us to reach.   For many years I couldn’t even forgive.  The best I could do is to ask God to forgive those who hurt me.  Later, I was able to forgive and let go of all the resentment and hurt I was carrying.  I made a practice of becoming conscious of every resentment and deal with it as it came up and I thought that was good, but in this quote we see that there are several additional things she wants us to consider:

  • to comprehend and not be hurt
  • to be known as someone who accepts without complaint
  • to never be known to complain or lament
  • to find in everything, even in calamity itself, the germ of enduring wisdom

The first and the last have to do with inward adjustments that have to be made.  When I remember that we all have a lower nature and are all sinners, struggling to rise above whatever life has given us, then it’s easier to remember that we are all one.  When I am spiritually strong and remember these things, I can achieve the first and fourth.  The middle two are how we behave in the world.  It seems that it might be possible to complain and lament privately, admitting it to ourselves and taking our complaints to God, asking for Him to transform them so that we can find the germ of enduring wisdom and not be hurt, so that we can face the world with the same radiant acquiescence she was known to have.

Knowing I can strive for something that goes beyond forgiveness, 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 Learning How to Forgive

 

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God’s Forgiveness

And shouldst thou recognize thy powerlessness, do thou rein in thy passions, and return unto thy Lord, that perchance He may forgive thee thy sins . . . (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 83)

I love the reminder to recognize my powerlessness at the beginning of this quote.  In the Short Obligatory Prayer, I admit to my powerlessness everyday, but for years, I didn’t stop to think about what that meant.  What exactly am I powerless over?  Now that I focus on that question, I realize that it changes from day to day.  When I’m conscious of exactly what it is, I can surrender, admit defeat, detach and give it to God to solve.  This strengthens my relationship with Him and helps strengthen whatever virtue I need in the moment, which fulfills my purpose in life.

Here’s an example from my life – today I’m feeling powerless over correcting a mess left by someone I hired to do a job I can’t do.  I’m totally powerless over whether or not he’ll come back to fix it, when he’ll do it, whether he’ll include it in his original invoice, or whether he’ll charge me more to do something that should have been done right the first time.  To “rein in my passions”, I need to first recognize and admit I’m feeling resentful, suspicious and full of self-pity, and then remember that I can’t turn these into patience, trust and forgiveness without asking God for help.  Whenever someone does something to me and I’m pointing a finger, there are always 3 fingers pointing back at me, so I’m learning to be grateful for the mirror held up in front of me.  When I remember the times I’ve been inconsiderate, imperfect and dishonest and am able to ask God to forgive me, He always does, because He is the All-Merciful, the All-Loving, the Ever Forgiving.

Knowing God forgives me helps me to forgive others, 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 Learning How to Forgive

 

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Forgiving Myself 

Change is an evolutionary process requiring loving education, patience with oneself and others, and the passage of time as the believers deepen their knowledge of the principles of the Faith, gradu­ally discard long-held traditional attitudes and progressively conform their lives to the unifying Teachings of the Cause. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 621)

I’m just learning how harsh I am with myself – I beat myself up so often, especially when I read the Bahá’í Writings.  I see how far I am from being the kind of Bahá’í I want to be, and it fills me with contempt and self-hatred.  I recognize this well-worn rut for what it is – it’s become my addiction.  Putting these negative thoughts on the hamster wheel inside my head and nursing them gives me the adrenaline rush I’ve come to know and depend on, just as an alcoholic depends on the next drink or the drug addict on the next fix.  Something needs to change.  I’m powerless to do it myself.  Along comes this quote, and challenges the voices inside my head.

It’s OK to not be perfect!  Change is an evolution.  I’m not expected to go from awareness to perfection, without the need for further loving education, patience and the passage of time.  Beating myself up is hardly the kind of education that works with anyone.  In fact I would never do to others what I do to myself.  I can take a deep breath, and breathe in God’s love for me and in doing so, letting it rub off on me.  I can cultivate patience.  I can keep deepening my knowledge of the principles of the Faith and gradually, one day at a time, discard these long-held idle fancies as I progressively conform my life to the unifying teachings of the Cause.

Knowing I can discard the drug of self-hatred and adrenalizing and cultivate the drug of love, acceptance, peace, patience, faith and trust, 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 Learning How to Forgive

 

 

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