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Confronting our Abusers

Consort with all men, O people of Bahá, in a spirit of friend­liness and fellowship. If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and good-will. If it be accepted, if it fulfil its purpose, your object is attained. If any one should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal un­kindly with him. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 289)

When I was confronting my parents about the abuse I sustained as a child, I unfortunately took my examples from the prevailing wisdom of the day, which said, tell them what you remember, what you want from them and what you will do if they don’t comply.  Needless to say, this approach got their backs up; they attempted to have me declared crazy and have my son taken away from me, and then when that didn’t work, they put a wedge between my siblings and I and cut me out of their lives.  I never saw any of my family after that.

As a good Bahá’í, it always bothered me that this action created so much estrangement in our family.  If I couldn’t have unity in my own family, how on earth could I help bring it to the world?

I wish I’d had the awareness and spiritual maturity called for in today’s quote.  Inside of coming on strong with threats, I could have approached them from a place of kindness and curiosity.  Unfortunately I was so full of hate and resentment and unforgiveness that there was no place in my heart for God, or love or friendliness or fellowship.  I have left them to themselves and pray for them.  It’s the best I can do for my family, but I have learned from my mistake and take care of the forgiveness first, before talking to anyone about a difficult matter.

Knowing I can talk to people kindly and if I’m rebuffed, I can leave them in God’s hands, I am filled with peace, 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 Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies      Kindle

 

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Envy and Jealousy

At the same time those who show forth envies, jealousies, etc., toward a servant, are depriving themselves of their own stations, and not another of his, for they prove by their own acts that they are not only unworthy of being called to any station waiting them, but also prove that they cannot withstand the very first test – that of rejoicing over the success of their neighbour, at which God rejoices . . .  Envy closes the door of Bounty, and jealousy prevents one from ever attaining to the Kingdom of Abhá.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 6, No. 6, p. 44)

First of all, I wanted to understand the difference between envy and jealousy as they are often paired in the Bahá’í Writings.  It seems that we envy people when we want what they have and we’re jealous when we want to keep for ourselves what belongs exclusively to us.  Envy involves 2 people – me and the person who has what I want and it is what feeds the “keeping up with the Jones’s”.

If someone is jealous, on the other hand, they feel angry or bitter because they think that another person is trying to take a lover, friend or possession away from them, so it involves 3 people.  It’s often what feeds suspicions of infidelity.  Both come out of a lack of trust towards yourself (to manage your affairs) or to your partner (to be loyal).

With that in mind, we can understand the quote better.  The problem is that when we give in to envy and jealousy, we deprive ourselves of our own station, close the door of bounty and prevent ourselves from ever attaining the Kingdom of Abha.  If I don’t appreciate the bounties and blessings that are continually streaming forth for me, why would God give me any more?

Knowing that the solution to envy and jealousy is to rejoice over the success of my  neighbors, 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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Overcoming Fear

. . . the fears and anxieties that distract their minds . . . are among the formidable obstacles that stand in the path of every would-be warrior in the service of Bahá’u’lláh, obstacles which he must battle against and surmount in his crusade for the redemption of his own countrymen. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 149)

Recently I made a list of fears that held me back and I was astonished to come up with a list of 125!  Some were obvious (fear of losing my health or my income, fear of authority figures, fear of angry people, fear of success); some were eye-opening (fear of God’s disapproval and punishment, fear of asking for help, fear of letting other people down) and others I had been completely unaware of (fear of making friends, fear of taking up space in the world, fear of moving out of my comfort zone).  The list went on and on!

What fears boil down to, though, is just two things.  We’re afraid of losing what we have or afraid of not getting what we want.   These fears, especially if we are unaware or oblivious to them, are always on the hamster wheel inside our brains, and as the quote reminds us, they distract us and stand in the way of being able to accomplish what we want to do.  They are “formidable” and yet we must all battle against them and surmount them if we want to be of service to our fellow-man.  We can’t do this without God’s help and mercy and we can’t ask for it if we aren’t aware.  So go ahead.  Make your own list!  This will give you some ideas.

Remembering to ask God to help me surmount my many fears, 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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Purpose of Tests

I know of a certainty, by virtue of my love for Thee, that Thou wilt never cause tribulations to befall any soul unless Thou desirest to exalt his station in Thy earthly life with the bulwark of Thine all-compelling power, that it may not become inclined toward the vanities of this world.  (The Bab, Baha’i Prayers, p. 193)

Most of my life I lived from the perspective of a victim.  So many terrible things happened to me as a child.  Many times I begged God to stop them and when they only got worse, I stopped believing in God.  I think that’s a pretty common response to severe injustice.  We can’t believe that a loving God would allow such awful things to happen in the world, so we conclude there must not be a God.  We begin to doubt our humanity, our faith, everything we thought we knew about justice, about what’s right and wrong, and even our capacity to continue in the face of terrible events.  Many of us can’t cope and some even commit suicide.  My own life was a living death for many years.

I had so many misconceptions about the purpose of tests, and I believe others might have too.  At first I thought that I was doing something wrong, and then graduated to the idea that I was undeserving or that God was mad at me (for something I did that was unforgivable), or that He wants me to suffer.  I expected life to be fair and to be rewarded for attempting to be a “perfect” Bahá’í, and when I wasn’t, I fell into hopeless, helpless despair.

This quote cuts across all of the misconceptions we have about life – the only reason for our tests is so God can “exalt our stations” and protect us from being inclined towards the vanities of this world.  That’s more in line with my idea of a loving God!  Thank you God for explaining it in such simple language!

Knowing there is a purpose to my tribulations, 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 Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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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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How to Be Happy

Never become angry with one another.  Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves. You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God. Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every hu­man being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves. But if you look toward God you will love them and be kind to them, for the world of God is the world of perfection and complete mercy. Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 93)

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking how difficult it is to “never become angry with one another.”  I’ve been immersed in a culture that models this behavior so well.  I don’t know what a peaceful interaction with everyone would be like or how to get there.  I love this quote because it gives me some tools.  All I have to do is “love them for the sake of God.”  Just as God loves me, no matter what I do, I can extend that same love to all my fellow men and when it seems almost impossible, I can do it “for the sake of God”, not because they deserve it.

There are many people who’ve let me down, many more who I feel superior towards.  I may think I feel temporarily happy to be righteously angry and to hold onto my bitterness but in the end, it just comes back to bite me.  When I can see with the sight of forgiveness and be kind to them and love them for the sake of God, it’s a much more delicious sort of happiness.

Discovering the secret of how to be happy and starting to apply the formula, 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 Anger and Bitterness

 

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