To be approved of God alone should be one’s aim. (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha recorded by Dr. Edward C. Getsinger during his pilgrimage to Haifa in 1905; Star of the West, Vol. VI, No.6, p. 43; Compilation: Lights of Guidance)
. . . at all times seeking the approval of men is many times the cause of imperiling the approval of God. (Words of Abdu’l-Baha in answer to questions asked by Dr. Edward C. Getsinger during a few brief meetings at Haifa, January 26 to February 5, 1915, and recorded by Dr. Getsinger at the time; Star of the West, vol. 6, no. 6, June 24, 1915)
This morning I was reflecting with some friends on how we look to other people for external validation, to earn people’s love and respect or to prove our worth. A lot of people I know define their self-worth by how many “likes” they get on a social media posting. Many of us hang out with people who have similar tastes and compatible opinions in order to have fulfilling relationships and feel loved by friends and family. We tend to avoid or rebuff criticism or unwanted advice, no matter how well-meaning. I’m coming to appreciate that creating this false face and trying to please everyone else before myself not only stunts real intimacy, but it makes me an invisible chameleon and drains me of my energy.
Changing my behavior isn’t easy, when I am immersed in a sea of gossip and am greedy for the approval of others. I know how to get that drug that never satisfies. I understand all this, but what I don’t understand is how I can get even more greedy for God’s approval and what would it look like if I found it? How would I recognize it when it comes?
I don’t hear Bahá’ís talk about this much, so I’m baffled about what to look for, so that I can move from my lower nature (looking for the approval of others) to my higher nature (looking for God’s approval). I took a poll and some people mentioned feeling the quiet satisfaction of a job well done; or having a feeling of peace and serenity at the end of a day; or feeling grounded and in the flow; or being grateful for fresh insights that could only come from God. Any other ideas?
Finding ways to recognize and become greedy for God’s approval, 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