You must always remember, no matter how much you or others may be afflicted with mental troubles . . . that your spirit is healthy, near to our Beloved, and will in the next world enjoy a happy and normal state of soul . . . But in this world such illness is truly a heavy burden to bear! (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 282)
Some studies suggest that nearly 1 in 5 adults (in the US) will experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their lifetime, and yet, they remain largely invisible in our Bahá’í communities. That’s why this quote is so helpful to those suffering from mental illness, as well as families, friends and community members, wanting to know how to reassure and support.
There is such a stigma around this issue, and so many misunderstandings. I’ve had well-meaning Bahá’ís tell me that my problems are all because of a lack of faith, or past sins and mis-behaviours, or because of a lack of engagement. Many of us have heard that we’re mentally ill because of some spiritual weakness or lack of willpower. To overcome it, we don’t need counselling or therapy, we just have to take medication, “pray harder and have more faith”. This is not helpful!
Mental illness truly IS a heavy burden to bear, and it’s so comforting to see a Central Figure of the Bahá’í Faith acknowledge this fact. I appreciate Shoghi Effendi letting me know that this is a problem of this world only, and doesn’t affect my spirit or my soul! Sometimes in the midst of my mental dis-ease, and severe mental tests, it’s hard to feel close to God, to want to pray or to Fast or to take care of my financial obligations to the Fund and the Right of God. It is very reassuring to know my spirit is healthy and near my Beloved, even when I can’t take care of my obligations.
Trusting my spirit is healthy and near my Beloved, 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 Fear into Faith: Overcoming Anxiety