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Finding the Strength to Weather the Storm

He feels that, if you close your eyes to the failings of others, and fix your love and prayers upon Bahá’u’lláh, you will have the strength to weather this storm, and will be much better for it in the end, spiritually. Although you suffer, you will gain a maturity that will enable you to be of greater help to both your fellow Bahá’ís and your children. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 604)

This quote reminds me yet again (I seem to need daily reminder), that I need to close my eyes to the failings of others and pray that I may turn towards Baha’u’llah and through Him, towards God.  This is the entire purpose of my life (to know and worship God), as I remind myself every day in the short obligatory prayer, so you’d think I’d remember it, but it’s amazing how easy it is to get caught up in this material world and forget the spiritual, especially when I’m going through the storms in my life.

Another tool that’s helping me a lot is this:  for every problem that comes my way I make a list of 6 positive things that come out of it.  It’s not always easy and requires me to be in a real humble posture of learning.  An example from my life today:  I want to rehome one of my cats, who is attacking the other.  I have zero tolerance for violence of any kind in my home and think she’d do better in a home with no other animals.  I have prayed, consulted with others and advertised in many places, but so far, these prayers have not been answered. I’m frustrated and even mad at God for not answering my prayers. The six things on my list today are:

  1. I get to have more time with a cat I love
  2. My cat gets more time to correct her behavior
  3. I get to develop patience
  4. I get to strengthen my trust in God’s timing
  5. I can see where my self-will might not be aligning with the will of God
  6. I can put my request in the God jar, let God work out the details and get on with my day, instead of focusing on “poor me”.

Remembering to turn towards God and trust his timing, will get me through the storms, I am grateful!

What’s a storm in your life today and what are 6 positive things you’re getting because of it?  Share your successes below.

Note:  Shortly after doing this exercise, I found a perfect home for my cat and she’s doing very well.  I think I needed to pass this test first.

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Strengthening Your Relationship with God

 

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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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Overcoming Confusion

All humanity is disturbed and suffering and confused; we cannot expect to not be disturbed and not to suffer – but we don’t have to be confused. On the contrary, confidence and assurance, hope and optimism are our prerogative. The successful carrying out of our vari­ous Plans is the greatest sign we can give of our faith and inner assur­ance, and the best way we can help our fellow-men out of their confu­sion and difficulties.  (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 225)

I try to avoid the news as much as possible, because it takes me down into hopeless, helpless despair.  Last night, though, I watched a documentary about the state of the world’s affairs and it was truly heartbreaking.  There were glimmers of hope, though, as I watched the youth organizing and arising to overcome injustice in their communities.  All the way through the movie, I repeated the Baha’i prayer for disaster (Yá Allahu’l-Mustaghath)   It felt good to know there was something I could do too.  I was worried that I would go to bed with the negative images seared on my brain, disturbing my sleep, so I asked God to take care of the world, and let me nestle under the wings of His protection and I did indeed sleep well.

I also called to mind something I’d heard in one of Tom Price’s talks.  He said that whenever he was disturbed by something terrible going on in the world, he reminded himself if was the “decline of the old world order.”

We are indeed blessed in this Faith, to know that God’s got His finger on the pulse of the world and it’s all leading us to the Most Great Peace.  It may not be happening as fast as I’d like, but I’m not in charge of the world!

The Writings give me the hope and optimism, assurance and confidence to help myself and others out of the confusion caused by the problems in the world, 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 Be Happy

 

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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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Stumbling Blocks and Setbacks 

 He is very happy to see that you have put into practice one of the most encouraging precepts of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in which He said that we should try and make every stumbling-block a stepping-stone to progress. In the course of your past life you have all stumbled very gravely; but, far from being embittered or defeated by this experience, you are determined to make it a means of purifying your natures, improving your characters, and enabling you to become better citi­zens in the future. This is truly pleasing in the eyes of God.  (Shoghi Effendi, Living the Life, p. 26)

Recently it’s occurred to me that no one is free of the stumbling blocks of life.  We need them all in order to grow.  Each one becomes a stepping stone to progress.  When we aren’t being tested, we don’t grow.  If I look over my life, I can see that the greatest growth has come during the darkest times in my life.  So I need every test, and I’m grateful for all of them.

It’s as if all of us “mines of inestimable value” have been put into God’s giant tumbling machine, where we bump up against other people’s jagged edges and use them to help smooth out ours.  Sometimes other people are tests for me and other times I am a source of tests for them.  No matter what, we all have a chance to grow and develop.  Even when we’re the only one doing the work, we still have the ability to pray for the others, and when we change the dance we’re dancing with them, they are forced to change their dance too.  Remembering we are all one, all created and cared for by the same loving father, there is no separation between us.  It’s only imaginary.

Knowing that when I remember to turn every struggle into a stepping stone, I purify my nature, improve my character and become a better citizen, 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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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