Select Page

The Truth About Unbearable Tests

No one should expect, upon becoming a Bahá’í, that faith will not be tested, and to our finite understanding of such matters these tests may occasionally seem unbearable. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 341)

This Plan will test their stamina, their willpower, and the strength of their love for those who dwell alongside them. (Universal House of Justice, to the Bahá’ís of the World, 4 January 2022)

I’ve just been reading 19 pages from the last 3 letters arising from the meeting between the Counsellors and the Universal House of Justice, outlining the upcoming 9-year Plan, including the most recent letter which came out today.  Needless to say, it’s overwhelming!

Several things stand out in my mind – the focus seems to have gone from community building to society building, which is really exciting!  And there will be more focus on developing LSA’s again, when so many have been lost.  International pioneering will again be a focus.  Ruhi will be revising but not creating new branch courses – that will be the responsibility of the institute boards.  And more than any plan I’ve thought I’ve understood before, the focus seems more than ever, on the working in groups of people.

So where do I fit in?  This seems to be answered on page 6 of the 30 December 2021 letter to the Conference of the Continental Board of Counsellors:

The challenge facing the friends serving at the grassroots is essentially the same in every place.  They must be able to read their own reality and ask:  what, in light of the possibilities and requirements at hand, would be fitting objectives to pursue in the coming cycle or series of cycles?

As an isolated believer in an inactive cluster, serving an online community and loving to serve the Faith from behind my computer screen in my pajamas, where does that leave me?  Don’t expect not to be tested!  I may have to give up my comfort zone and detach from the things I hold most sacred, in order to enable the Faith to grow according to God’s will and not my own.

Ya Baha’u’l-Abha!

Seeing the end in the beginning, through the vision of the House of Justice, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you when you read this passage?  Please share your thoughts below.

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Learning How to Consult Effectively

 

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

 

How Hate Repels Us Away From the Truth

 He must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of . . . hate may linger therein, lest . . . that hate repel him away from the truth.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 264)

This quote reminds me of one of the phrases Linda Popov (of the Virtues Project) used in all her trainings:  “Don’t get furious, get curious.”

I have a tendency to believe that everyone thinks the same way I do, and has the same values as I do, especially if they are Baha’is, but I’m coming to discover, late in life, that this is very seldom true.  I have my way and everyone else has theirs, and they are all equally valid (unless they’re in direct opposition to the teachings of the Faith, of course).

It’s easy to get resentful when people do things that hurt or disappoint me and not so easy to remember to be loving and forgiving.  When I remember to get curious, to look for their truth, and I have an explanation I can accept, even if I don’t agree with it, the resentment melts away.

Being reminded to replace hate for curiosity and remember to look for the truth, 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

 

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

 

Promoting Spiritual Growth

The consultative process itself promotes personal growth and collective solidarity, indispensable elements in true development.  (Bahá’í International Community, Report on Rural Poverty Alleviation Efforts in Asia and the Pacific, Focusing on Activities for Disadvantaged Women, paragraph 6.1.2.)

As someone committed to personal growth, I found this quote linking consultation to personal growth and its indispensability to the community development work fascinating.  True personal growth is not about buying a book and letting it sit on your shelf at home or attending a seminar and feeling like you’ve accomplished something.  The Faith teaches us that growth is so much more than that.  Transformation involves the knowledge of God and acquiring virtues.  The closer we come to God, the more severe our tests become and continuing to make a commitment to staying close to the Covenant and committing to make each day better than the day before can be difficult, especially if we allow ourselves to get distracted by the changes and chances of a rapidly declining old world order.

I’m coming to really appreciate how prayerful reflection in consultation with others can help us take our spiritual growth to the next level, by helping us set realistic and attainable goals, create plans to achieve them and identify and resolve problems as they arise.  Consultation can help us recognize and describe our feelings, give and receive feedback and recognize assumptions. Consultation helps us explore our identity, talents and potential, as well as dreams and aspirations. It develops us physically, mentally, spiritually and intellectually.  The more we improve and the closer we come to God, we will eagerly want to use our full potentials to benefit ourselves and others. New skills and talents will be discovered. Old relationships will be strengthened and new ones easily formed.  All of this works together to give us a boost in self-image and self-confidence.

Personal growth expands our frame of reference to include the people around us instead of becoming more self-centered. As our world expands, so does our awareness of the possibilities and opportunities around us. This possibility mindset fills us with an attitude of eager anticipation as we start each new day.

Knowing the benefits of consultation to growth and 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 Learning How to Consult Effectively

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

How to Deal with Internet Trolls

In discussions look toward the reality without being self-opinionated.  Let no one assert and insist upon his own mere opinion; nay, rather, let each investigate the reality with the greatest love and fellowship. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 177, #581)

Has COVID polarized people’s opinions and increased the number of “trolls” on social media or am I just noticing them now?  Perhaps I’m naïve but when I read people’s comments on Facebook (my first mistake), I believe that they are sharing their opinions, and I can accept them as such, even when they are diametrically opposed to mine.  Recently however, I’ve learned that some people (referred to as trolls):  post things to disrupt or to gain attention; confine their comments to primitive, profane, off-topic observations; spout gibberish in the hopes that they’ll either bore or confuse those with whom they disagree and/or seek refuge in condescending remarks that scorn their critics while continuing to respond to them and put them down.  I’m absolutely baffled by this behavior!  Apparently they do it for their own amusement, or to push a specific agenda.

As Baha’is, we now know that our job in any discussion is to:

  • look toward the reality without being self-opinionated
  • don’t assert and insist upon your own opinion
  • investigate reality with the greatest love and fellowship

As we’re learning to do these things, we must also train the people around us.  We can do this by not replying or attempting to engage in debate with those not willing to behave this way, even on (or especially on) Baha’i forums. By ignoring a troll completely, they will likely become frustrated and go somewhere else.  Understanding that not everyone is genuinely trying to find truth in sharing their opinions; and knowing I don’t have to convince them of anything and just leave them to God, lowers my anxiety.

Knowing that my job is to investigate reality with the greatest love and fellowship 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 Consult Effectively

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

Consultation Needs Several Voices

Now Available on Amazon!

The purpose of consultation is to show that the views of several individuals are assuredly preferable to one man, even as the power of a number of men is of course greater than the power of one man.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 176, #580)

Being both single and self-employed, I’m used to making decisions alone.  Even when I could consult with others, I’ve always thought it was easier and faster to do it myself.  When I became a Bahá’í and saw the importance of consultation I had to change my views.  I’ve come to appreciate that when a diverse group of people who understand and respect each other’s differences and contributions consult together, more can be accomplished much more efficiently.  It’s not always easy to recognize the important contribution towards the performance of the team that different members bring to the table and it’s not even easy to see the contribution I bring, when I’m used to doing everything myself.

The nine kinds of people who work best together on a team are people who:

  1. come up with ideas I might not have thought of
  2. assess the risks
  3. focus on details and logistics
  4. come up with all the reasons something won’t work
  5. are skilled in listening between the lines and hearing what isn’t being said
  6. provide motivation and encouragement
  7. are willing to do the work
  8. support and step into any gaps that might arise
  9. won’t give up when the going gets tough

When I look at this list, it’s easy to see my strengths and weaknesses, and relax into the idea that I don’t have to do everything myself, 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 newly published book Learning How to Consult Effectively

 

Help Keep This Site Alive