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Whatever Hath Befallen You, Hath Been for the Sake of God  

Whatever hath befallen you, hath been for the sake of God. This is the truth, and in this there is no doubt. You should, therefore, leave all your affairs in His Hands, place your trust in Him, and rely upon Him. He will assuredly not forsake you. In this, likewise, there is no doubt. No father will surrender his sons to devouring beasts; no shepherd will leave his flock to ravening wolves. He will most cer­tainly do his utmost to protect his own. If, however, for a few days, in compliance with God’s all-encompassing wisdom, outward affairs should run their course contrary to one’s cherished desire, this is of no consequence and should not matter.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Crisis & Victory, p.  171)

A friend of mine once asked me how this quote addressed the issues of childhood abuse.  How can the abuse that has befallen me, be for the sake of God?  I think there are two issues at stake here:  one is the purpose of tests and difficulties and the other is the purpose of justice for the perpetrator.

There are many quotes which suggest that God will send “severe mental tests to the peoples of the West, to purge, purify and prepare them for their noble mission in life.”  (Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Administration, p. 50). The severe mental tests that came out of the abuse and violence I experienced as a child include all the negative chatter which can easily dominate my thinking:

  • Did it happen or didn’t it?
  • Some things are unforgiveable, and childhood sexual abuse is one of them
  • I was justified in estranging myself from my perpetrators
  • It’s ruined me for life
  • I’m obviously unloved and unloveable . . .

I can maximize the list, but it only abases me so I hope you get the idea!  God doesn’t want me to abase myself, but to recognize and reclaim my nobility so I can arise to serve His Cause.

God has promised to never forgive another man’s injustice, so I can leave the need for punishment and justice and revenge and karma in God’s hands and focus on my own spiritual growth by leaving all my affairs in His Hands and placing my whole trust in Him.

God wants us to give Him our full attention.  We can’t draw closer to God when we “busy ourselves with another” by focusing on our perpetrators and giving them more attention than we give to our “Creator, Friend and Best Lover”, any more than we can get to Chicago by looking in our rear-view mirrors.

Knowing that things going against my wishes are of no consequence and shouldn’t matter, 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 Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

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God’s Invisible Justice

He hath, however, caused you to be entangled with (the) affairs (of the world), in return for what your hands have wrought in His Cause. This, indeed, is a chastisement which ye, of your own will, have inflicted upon yourselves, could ye but perceive it. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 209)

When I was first trying to come to terms with my childhood abuse, I wanted justice and it was clear I wasn’t going to get it from the legal system because the statue of limitations had passed.  Even if it hadn’t, I’d watched some of my friends go that route, and witnessed first hand how the court system retraumatizes those who’ve been abused, especially as children.

Slowly, the idea of God’s justice came to my awareness and over time, to my attention.  This quote remained in the back of my mind for many years, though, because I just couldn’t get my head around it.  Like many abuse survivors, I couldn’t understand why the perpetrators seemed to not only get away with it, but had materially rich lives as well, whereas many of us lived in poverty and couldn’t seem to get ahead no matter how hard we tried.  It didn’t seem fair, was the general consensus.

One day, something clicked when `Abdu’l-Bahá elaborated on Bahá’u’lláh’s words:

In like manner, they consider spiritual punishment—that is, existential torment and chastisement—to consist in subjection to the world of nature; in being veiled from God; in ignorance and unawareness; in engrossment with covetous desires; in absorption in animal vices; in being marked by evil attributes, such as falsehood, tyranny, and iniquity; in attachment to worldly things; and in immersion in satanic fancies—all of which they reckon to be the greatest of torments and punishments.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed., p. 60, #4)

And now it came together.  Being poor in all save God has its own rewards, in that I had no choice but to turn to God for my daily needs.  When we have everything, it’s easy to forget God and to think that our good fortune is of our own doing.

Being subjected to the world of nature; being veiled from God; being ignorant and unaware; being engrossed with covetous desires; being absorbed by animal vices; being marked by evil attributes, such as falsehood, tyranny, and iniquity; being attached to worldly things; and being immersed in satanic fancies is surely chastisement and the greatest of torments and punishments!  Given the choice of their lives and mine, I’m glad to be close to God and remember Him every day.

Leaving justice in God’s hands and trusting His justice, 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 Overcoming Abuse and Violence

 

If You Like What You Read, Please Help Keep This Site Alive

For Every Crisis, there’s Always a Victory

Remember My days during thy days, and My distress and banishment in this remote prison.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 210)

When I was in the deepest despair, remembering traumatic events of my childhood, I came across this quote, which helped to lift me out of my “self”.  I was feeling a lot of “poor me” and “why did this have to happen to me”, and then I had to stop and remember Bahá’u’lláh’s days.

Bahá’u’lláh was born into a wealthy family and was expected to follow his father into an important position in the government of Persia (Iran).  He didn’t want the position or the power.  As a result, His life included a series of imprisonments, and banishments.  At one point He was imprisoned for four months in an underground reservoir for a public bath, with its only outlet a single passage down three steep flights of stone steps. When He was freed from prison, He and His family were banished four times, sometimes on foot over the mountains in the middle of winter without enough food or proper clothing.  He was discredited by His uncle, poisoned by his jealous half-brother and witnessed the death of His son.  He was betrayed by people He trusted, stoned, and isolated from the Believers.  He was the victim of ignorance, injustice, cruelty and fanaticism.  To protect the Faith from the efforts of His half-brother, He even lived as a hermit for 2 years.  But every crisis was followed by victory, and this, I believe, is what is important to remember.

Although my repressed memories included all the positive and neutral memories too, once they came back, I was able to see that, like Bahá’u’lláh, there were times in my life that were peaceful, and activities that weren’t abusive.  From anger I learned to find my voice and take action.  From poverty I was protected from materialism and learned to rely on God.  From estrangement I gained knowledge of myself, and through it, knowledge of God. From being silenced, I was protected from backbiting and gossip.

Knowing I can focus on the victories instead of the negative things that happened to me, 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 Strengthening Your Relationship with God

 

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Abuse Happens when We Come From our Lower Nature 

As a devoted believer you are urged to strive to develop forgiveness in your heart toward your parents who have abused you in so disgraceful a manner, and to attain a level of insight which sees them as captives of their lower nature, whose actions can only lead them deeper into unhappiness and separation from God. By this means, you can liberate yourself from the anger to which you refer in your letter, and foster your own spiritual development.   (Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, to this author, 9 September 1992)

The first time my heart was broken was when I was first sexually abused by my father, and hearing my mother say in response: “I wish she’d never been born.”  With this criticism, I believed it was my fault.  Neither the abuse, nor her hurtful comment had anything to do with me, though I believed it did.

For over 50 years, I told myself things like “you’re unlovable”; “you deserve to be used for sex”; “life will always be like this” etc.  As a small child, these statements made sense as I was trying to make sense of the world the only way I knew how.  As an adult, though, the House of Justice taught me that I had to learn to separate their actions from the meaning I gave to them.  I came to realize that these beliefs (and more) were just lies coming from my lower nature, and I would be just as responsible to God for the “abuse” I was heaping on myself; as my parents would be for the abuse they heaped on me!   The scale of the sin might be different, but we were all acting from our lower natures.

Once I realized that my parent’s abusive actions arose from their lower natures, which hooked into my lower nature (when I believed the abuse had anything to do with me), I was able to get free of both my anger and my self-pity.

Learning that when I can attain this level of insight, I free myself from criticism and anger; and foster my spiritual development, 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 Criticizing Others

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

 

Children Learn First to Obey their Parents, and then to Obey God

Parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Education, p. 6)

Children learn to be obedient to their parents first because they are the only authority figure they know. This allegiance is then transferred to God. For children like me, who grew up with abusive parents, who never received love or mercy or forgiveness, the concept of a loving God is just an intellectual knowing.

I’m 63 and my parents are long dead, but I’m still waiting for God’s punishment and have driven myself into burnout and adrenal exhaustion trying to earn enough spiritual brownie points to earn a place in heaven.

Just this week someone helped me finally see why, after being a loyal, devoted and deepened Bahá’í for nearly 40 years, I react so strongly and negatively to Ruhi and letters from our beloved House of Justice: I’ve seen them as a growing list of tasks from God (my Father), which I have to complete on time, perfectly or I will be punished by God or His representatives on earth (the Institutions). It’s been a terrible way to live! Thank God I now understand!

Never having personal experience with anyone approaching the All-Loving, the All-Merciful or the Ever-Forgiving, I can step out in faith, trusting God to heal this deep and far-reaching primal wound, 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 Overcoming Abuse and Violence

 

Help Keep This Site Alive