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Healing the Stress Caused by Forced Isolation

One of my readers asked:

I am interested in perspectives on the healing of the mental and spiritual stresses placed on so many by the forced isolation caused by the pandemic.

It’s absolutely true, that isolation is not our normal state, and as we go into the 4th wave of the COVID pandemic, with all of the increase in variants, it’s easy to be discouraged with no end in sight.

Baha’is are lucky because the House of Justice has kept us informed every step of the way.  Studying their letters over the past year we see their suggestions.  I especially thought the Naw Ruz letter to the Baha’is of the World a year ago gave us lots of ideas:

. . . ye must rise above the horizon of firmness and steadfastness with illumined faces and radiant brows in such wise that, God willing, the gloom of fear and consternation may be entirely obliterated, and the light of assurance may dawn above the manifest horizon and shine resplendently.  (paragraph 3)

Ask yourself:

  • What helps you rise above your problems?
  • What helps you have illumined faces and radiant brows that people can hear in your voices and see above your masks?
  • How can you provide the light of assurance to your friends, family and neighbors?

Though having to adapt to new circumstances, the believers have used creative means to strengthen bonds of friendship, and to foster among themselves and those known to them spiritual consciousness and qualities of tranquility, confidence , and reliance on God.  (paragraph 3)

Ask yourself:

  • How can I continue to strengthen bonds of friendship?
  • How can I foster spiritual consciousness and qualities of tranquillity, confidence and reliance on God in myself, so I can pass these on to someone else?

The elevated conversations that have occurred as a result, whether remotely or in person, have been a source of comfort and inspiration to many.  (paragraph 3)

Ask yourself:

  • Who can I have an elevated conversation with today? Tomorrow?  Next week?  Make a list and work through it systematically and then repeat.

May your minds be ever bent upon the needs of the communities to which you belong, the condition of the society in which you live and the welfare of the entire family of humanity, to whom you are all brothers and sisters.  (paragraph 5)

Ask yourself:

  • To which communities do I belong (religious, social, recreational, work, school etc)?
  • What are the needs of each community?
  • What can I do to help?

And in your quiet moments, when no course of action other than prayer seems possible, then we invite you to add your supplications to our won and ardently pray for the relief of suffering.  (paragraph 5)

Ask yourself:

  • Which prayers can I say?
  • Who can I pray with?
  • Who can I study a prayer with?

I think carefully studying this letter and answering the questions above and acting on them will be the best possible healing of the mental and spiritual stresses placed on so many by the forced isolation caused by the pandemic.

Knowing there are practical things the House of Justice is asking us to do during the pandemic, 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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God is My Companion and Always Near

If the friends and relatives are keeping themselves at a dis­tance from thee, be thou not sad, for God is near to thee. Associate thou, as much as thou canst, with the relatives and strangers; display thou loving kindness; show thou forth the utmost patience and resignation. The more they oppose thee, shower thou upon them the greater justice and equity; the more they show hatred and opposition toward thee, challenge thou them with great truthfulness, friendship and rec­onciliation.  Praise be to God, thou art near to the Kingdom of Abhá! Rest thou assured. With all my soul and spirit, I am thy companion at all moments. Know thou this of a certainty!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 557-558)

I don’t know about you but I’m suffering COVID fatigue.  I’m tired of being obedient to the government when all my friends, including Bahá’ís, are going about their business as usual.  I’m tired of judging them and tired of judging myself for judging them.  I hate that this pandemic has divided the world, at a time when we need to acknowledge our oneness more than ever.  I hate that I’m engaging in the great divide and I hate the separation that’s growing between my friends and I because I choose to stay home and stay safe and keep everyone else safe around me.  Am I a good Bahá’í or a screwed-up victim of trauma, needing obedience in order to stay safe?  I think about these things and ask myself these questions a lot, especially as we head into a second lockdown.

So on Christmas day, despite of feeling sorry for myself, and with this quote in mind, I played secret Santa, putting candy canes at the doors of all the apartments in my building, and giving little presents to those who are least liked, so that everyone would get a little gift at a time when we all need gifts the most.  I called people who were also alone on this day.  I’m attempting to make peace with those whose choices differ from mine.  It’s the best I can do today.

I’m truly blessed because I have the greatest gift of all, in my recognition of the Manifestation of God for this age, and as isolated, alone and lonely as I feel, I know of a certainty that God is with me and is my companion at all moments.  Most of my neighbors don’t have that and are trying to get through the season without.  Please God, help them feel your presence through my prayers and my puny efforts to be the person you want me to be.  Please God, let me forgive my friends, and myself.

Knowing that God knows my limitations, loves me, forgives me and is patient with 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 Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

 

God’s Wings

Rest assured in the protection of God. He will preserve his own children under all circumstances. Be ye not afraid nor be ye agitated. He holds the scepter of power in His hand, and like unto a hen He gathereth his chickens under His wings . . . Now, friends, this is the time of assurance and faith and not fear and dread.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 8, No. 19, p. 241)

Recently I came across a list of 541 common fears and phobias and no doubt, more are being identified all the time.  As part of my recovery from workaholism, I had to put together a list of my own fears, and was challenged to come up with at least 100 and with the help of that online resource, it wasn’t hard.  I had no idea my life (and other people’s too) was ruled by so much fear.

It doesn’t help the the news and social media are fanning the flames of fear about terrorism, crime, health and safety concerns, climate change, identity theft, immigration, global warming, nuclear war, economic disaster and more.  It’s easy to make fear our god and let it rule our lives.  In that moment, it’s easy to forget to turn to God.

The world isn’t going to come to an end.  Bahá’u’lláh has promised that His Revelation is moving us towards the Golden Age and the Most Great Peace.  Everything happening in the world is just the necessary decline of the old world order, so something better can be built up in its stead.

Whenever I’m feeling afraid and lonely, I remember that this moment is all there is and in this moment, everything is perfectly fine.  In this moment, I have a roof over my head and food in my belly.  I can rest in the assurance of the protection of God.

Knowing I can ask ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to gather me under His wings whenever I’m afraid,  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

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

 

Overcoming Loneliness

 

This morning, one of the clients in my Bahá’í-inspired life coaching practice asked me:  “Are you familiar with loneliness?”  She went on to explain the tests she’s had within her family and concluded by asking:  “How do you manage to keep your spirits up so as to be a support to others?  How do you manage to bring Baha’u’llah into your life?  How do you manage to keep Him in the centre of your life?  It seems like so much of who I am needs to be “re-created” … is there still hope?”

I told her that I am divorced and live alone with my two cats.  I have been estranged from my family of origin for over 20 years.  My 25 year old son is working and going to school full time in a city 3 hours away and isn’t able to make time for me.  I’ve moved so often that all of my friends are in other cities (provinces, countries).  In my community, there are only 2 of us who attend Assembly meetings and feasts and in our tiny cluster of 25 souls, most of them are inactive.  In my darkest moments, I wonder: if I died, how long would it take for anyone to notice?  And I think that at age 52, I have potentially another 40 years of living without love.

When I get thinking that way, I’m reminded of this lamentation of Bahá’u’lláh on page 18 of Prayers and Meditations, and frequently use it myself:

Hasten, by Thy grace and bounty, my passing, O my Lord . . .

Yes, I know a thing or two about loneliness!

To help me not fall victim to feeling sorry for myself too often, I have done some research in the Bahá’í Writings, for insights and guidance.  What follows is my response to her.

The first thing to know is that:

There is no harm in thy loneliness in those regions; for verily, the hosts of confirmation are thy help, thy Glorious Lord is thy protector and the angels of the Kingdom are thy fellow-speakers. Glad-tidings be unto thee for this! Blessed art thou for this!   (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 61)

Lonely with Unresponsive Family Members

God sees your loneliness and understands the pain you feel when you aren’t able to receive the love and companionship of those closest to you.  I’m not sure from the reference, whose voice this is, or who it’s directed towards, but it’s easy to claim for ourselves:

O my Lord, Thou knowest my sighs, my cries and my anguish, the burning pain because of their separation; my great longing for their meeting; my yearning for their love; my desire for their remembrance and my anxiety to behold them. Day and night their remembrance is my treasure and my rose garden. When night comes my heart loves the memory of their illumined faces. I yearn for them as the nightingale yearns for the beautiful meadows.  (Compilations : Baha’i Scriptures, p. 410)

Here’s a prayer you can pray for your family, who are unable to respond to your needs for companionship:

Behold, then, O my God, my loneliness among Thy servants and my remoteness from Thy friends and Thy chosen ones. I beseech Thee, by the showers of the clouds of Thy mercy, whereby Thou hast caused the blossoms of Thy praise and utterance and the flowers of Thy wisdom and testimony to spring forth in the hearts of all them that have recognized Thy oneness, to supply Thy servants and my kindred with the fruits of the tree of Thy unity, in these days when Thou hast been established upon the throne of Thy mercy. Hinder them not, O my Lord, from attaining unto the things Thou dost possess, and write down for them that which will aid them to scale the heights of Thy grace and favor. Give them, moreover, to drink of the living waters of Thy knowledge, and ordain for them the good of this world and of the world to come.

Thou art, verily, the Lord of Bahá, and the Beloved of his heart, and the Object of his desire, and the Inspirer of his tongue, and the Source of his soul. No God is there but Thee, the Inaccessible, the Most High. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Most Exalted, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.  (Baha’u’llah : Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 109-110)

Letting go of past traditions

Bahá’u’lláh came to teach us a new way of being, and despite what we hold most sacred, sometimes this means letting go.

This is the Day when the loved ones of God should keep their eyes directed towards His Manifestation, and fasten them upon what¬soever that Manifestation may be pleased to reveal. Certain traditions of bygone ages rest on no foundations whatever, while the notions entertained by past generations, and which they have recorded in their books, have, for the most part, been influenced by the desires of a corrupt inclination.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 171-172.)

I think that one aspect of letting go of past traditions is letting go of the notion of the idea that “blood is thicker than water.”  Shoghi Effendi tells us:

Deep as are family ties, we must always remember that the spiritual ties are far deeper; they are everlasting and survive death, whereas physical ties, unless supported by spiritual bonds, are confined to this life . . . (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 218.)

Here is a prayer I often say, though some friends of mine say that the Báb is asking too much of us . . .

O my God, my Lord and my Master!  I have detached myself from my kindred and have sought through Thee to become independent of all that dwell on earth and ever ready to receive that which is praiseworthy in Thy sight. Bestow on me such good as will make me independent of aught else but Thee, and grant me an ampler share of Thy boundless favours.  Verily Thou art the Lord of grace abounding.  (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 209).

So what can you do instead?  ‘Abdul-Bahá gives us some guidance and words of comfort to consider:

If the friends and relatives are keeping themselves at a distance from thee, be thou not sad, for God is near to thee. Associate thou, as much as thou canst, with the relatives and strangers; display thou loving kindness; show thou forth the utmost patience and resignation. The more they oppose thee, shower thou upon them the greater justice and equity; the more they show hatred and opposition toward thee, challenge thou them with great truthfulness, friendship and rec¬onciliation.  Praise be to God, thou art near to the Kingdom of Abhá! Rest thou assured. With all my soul and spirit, I am thy companion at all moments. Know thou this of a certainty!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 557-558.)

 

Reflect on the Heroes and Martyrs

In the Writings, we’re often encouraged to reflect upon the heroes and martyrs of the Faith, to guide us in our lives, so this quote might help remind you that your loneliness has a bigger purpose and that God knows and understands, and will make something good come from it:

Furthermore, call to mind the shameful circumstances that have attended the martyrdom of Husayn. Reflect upon his loneliness, how, to outer seeming, none could be found to aid him, none to take up his body and bury it. And yet, behold how numerous, in this day, are those who from the uttermost corners of the earth don the garb of pilgrimage, seeking the site of his martyrdom, that there they may lay their heads upon the threshold of his shrine! Such is the ascendancy and power of God! Such is the glory of His dominion and majesty!  (Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Iqán, p. 128)

The following quote reminds us of the Greatest Holy Leaf, Bahiyyih Khánum, so reading the book about her life might help draw you closer to her and away from your loneliness:

She was a real mother to every one of us, a comforter in our pains and anxieties, and a friend in our moments of utter loneliness and despair. (Compilations : Bahiyyih Khánum, p. 68)

Understand your role as a spiritual “pioneer”

In this plan, the term “pioneer” is used more broadly than we have seen before.  I know that you are a true pioneer of new ways of interacting with the institutions in your city, so here is a reminder of your “marching orders.

To remain at one’s post, to undergo sacrifice and hardship, loneliness and, if necessary, persecution, in order to hold aloft the torch of Bahá’u’lláh, is the true function of every pioneer. (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 336)

Here is a prayer, which puts it into focus:

O Lord! Dispel the darkness of these corrupt desires, and illumine the hearts with the lamp of Thy love through which all countries will erelong be enlightened. Confirm, moreover, Thy loved ones, those who, leaving their homelands, their families and their children, have, for the love of Thy Beauty, traveled to foreign countries to diffuse Thy fragrances and promulgate Thy teachings. Be Thou their companion in their loneliness, their helper in a strange land, the remover of their sorrows, their comforter in calamity. Be Thou a refreshing draught for their thirst, a healing medicine for their ills and a balm for the burning ardor of their hearts.
Verily, Thou art the Most Generous, the Lord of grace abounding, and, verily, Thou art the Compassionate and the Merciful.  (Abdu’l-Baha : Tablets of the Divine Plan, page 59)

Be grateful

Here is something you can say, when you have a hard time remembering to be thankful for your loneliness:

Unto Him do I render thanks and praise for the things He hath ordained, for My loneliness, and the anguish I suffer at the hands of these men who have strayed so far from Him. I have patiently sustained, and will continue to sustain, the tribulation that touched Me, and will put My whole trust and confidence in God.  (Baha’u’llah : Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 274)

Say Prayers

Here is a prayer that always brings me comfort:

O my Lord, my Beloved, my Desire!  Befriend me in my loneliness and accompany me in my exile; remove my sorrow, cause me to be devoted to Thy Beauty, withdraw me from all else save Thee, attract me through Thy fragrances of holiness, cause me to be associated in Thy Kingdom with those who are severed from all else save Thee and who long to serve Thy Sacred Threshold and who stand to work in Thy Cause, and enable me to be one of Thy maid-servants who have attained to Thy good pleasure. Verily, Thou art the Gracious, the Generous!  (Abdu’l-Baha : Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha Volume 3, p. 619)

Study prayers for clues

In the following prayer, we’re reminded that God sees our loneliness and can heal and transform it.  As you study the prayer you will see that by asking for certain things, ‘Abdul-Bahá is telling us what we can do to allay it:

  • Turn to God in prayer
  • Let your heart overflow with love for His creatures
  • Be a promoter of concord amongst His loved ones
  • Nestle beneath the shade of His protecting wings
  • Teach and praise God
  • Remember God and be forgetful of self and ever mindful of what is His

The serenity prayer comes to mind:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference (or in this case, to know what belongs to you and what belongs to God).

Here’s the prayer:

O Lord, my God and my Haven in my distress! My Shield and my Shelter in my woes! My Asylum and Refuge in time of need and in my loneliness my Companion! In my anguish my Solace, and in my solitude a loving Friend! The Remover of the pangs of my sorrows and the Pardoner of my sins!

Wholly unto Thee do I turn, fervently imploring Thee with all my heart, my mind and my tongue, to shield me from all that runs counter to Thy will in this, the cycle of Thy divine unity, and to cleanse me of all defilement that will hinder me from seeking, stainless and unsullied, the shade of the tree of Thy grace.  Have mercy, O Lord, on the feeble, make whole the sick, and quench the burning thirst.

Gladden the bosom wherein the fire of Thy love doth smolder, and set it aglow with the flame of Thy celestial love and spirit.  Robe the tabernacles of divine unity with the vesture of holiness, and set upon my head the crown of Thy favor.  Illumine my face with the radiance of the orb of Thy bounty, and graciously aid me in ministering at Thy holy threshold.

Make my heart overflow with love for Thy creatures and grant that I may become the sign of Thy mercy, the token of Thy grace, the promoter of concord amongst Thy loved ones, devoted unto Thee, uttering Thy commemoration and forgetful of self but ever mindful of what is Thine.

O God, my God! Stay not from me the gentle gales of Thy pardon and grace, and deprive me not of the wellsprings of Thine aid and favor. ‘Neath the shade of Thy protecting wings let me nestle, and cast upon me the glance of Thine all-protecting eye.

Loose my tongue to laud Thy name amidst Thy people, that my voice may be raised in great assemblies and from my lips may stream the flood of Thy praise.  Thou art, in all truth, the Gracious, the Glorified, the Mighty, the Omnipotent.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 30-31)

Be in Constant Communion with God

In the following prayer, we’re reminded of our need to focus on being of service and in order to do this, we need to be in constant communion with God.  When we allow Him to be our companion, we live in the spiritual realms and our physical loneliness slips away.

O Lord! Strengthen my back, enable me to serve Thee with the utmost endeavor, and leave me not to myself, lonely and helpless in these regions.  O Lord! Grant me communion with Thee in my loneliness, and be my companion in these foreign lands.  Verily, Thou art the Confirmer of whomsoever Thou willest in that which Thou desirest, and, verily, Thou art the All-Powerful, the Omnipotent. (Abdu’l-Baha : Tablets of the Divine Plan, Page 47)

Use the Greatest Name

The original of the following passage has never been found, so it’s not considered authentic text, but it certainly grabbed my attention and helped me to understand the wisdom of its use.

Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá!

In this cry, all the cries of the universe are sounded, and the chord of Divine Reality is struck.  The shout “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá” in this, the Day of its birth is of more profit to thee than all the knowledge of science and all the wealth of the earth.  It is the rhythm of progress, the chord of creation, the melody of eternity, and the password to the Kingdom of God.  Therefore, use it to establish thyself in the realm of Divine Trust.  Speak it in thy solitude, cry it in thy joy, murmur it in thy grief and chant it in thy weakest moments – and it will give thee strength.

It is the cry that will bring the Supreme Concourse to the door of thy life, and which stations the loving trust of Abhá about thy soul.  It opens the heavenly mysteries, manifests the colours, and solves the riddles of life.  It absorbs all, encircles all, includes all.

To cry that phrase “O Thou Glory of the Most Glorious: is to sing in harmony with the Supreme Concourse, and to harmonize thyself with the holy “I Am” in His Court of divine omnipotent truth.  It holds all there is of form, of spirit and of the world of creative thought.

This, the most Great Name, carries the highest vibrations, which make manifest the wisdom of the spiritual worlds.  This utterance produces a spiritual result beyond all idle fancies and vain imaginations.

Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá!

Give it to God

Thou seest, O my Lord, my dwelling-place in the heart of this mountain and Thou dost witness my forbearance . . . Yet the sorrow of solitude and loneliness prompteth me to invoke Thee through this prayer, perchance Thy trusted servants may become aware of my lamentations, may supplicate unto Thee on my behalf, and Thou wouldst graciously answer their prayers as a token of Thy grace and Thy favour.  (Fire and Light Excerpts from the Bahá’í Sacred Writings, p. V)

In conclusion, I don’t think it’s possible to escape from our loneliness.  It’s but one of the tests we are given in this world, but perhaps this quote will help remind you of a context to put it into:

Men may be made in the image of God, yet (as the presents it) the history of the tribes and peoples and nations of the world, of the Hebrews and the Gentiles, reflects at no time the order and harmony and the happiness of a divine world. It is a tale of turmoil and vicissitude, of struggle and trouble, of sorrow and loneliness and penitence, of bitter shame, and hopes lost and hearts broken.

Men dream of heaven and peace, they long for a better order of things than that which they have made. Prophetic promises of a great felicity, of a sure deliverance from the fears of life, and from its discords and its wrongs and its despairs, buoy up the fainting hearts of the generations and grow with the passing centuries more full and clear. But no nation ever walks with a whole heart in the ways of God or in the sunshine of His presence; by the multitudes happiness is only seen if at all in faint and far-off glimpses [but] . . . A happy ending to the history of man is from the beginning assured by the might of the One Sovereign Will who brought all things into existence. (George Townsend, Heart of the Gospel, p. 20)

In the words of ‘Abdul-Bahá, “This too shall pass.”

For more information on material ideas for combatting loneliness, please see part 2, to be posted in a couple of days.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts?  Post your comments here:

Overcoming Loneliness Part 2

In part 1, I explored some spiritual principles to consider when striving to overcome loneliness.  Sometimes none of this seems to make a difference (or maybe it’s just that I forget to apply all of it!), so to walk the spiritual path with practical feet, here are some other tools I use:

Essential Oils:

Why are they so effective?

When we inhale through the nose, airborne molecules interact with the olfactory organs and, almost immediately, the brain. Molecules inhaled through the nose or mouth are also carried to the lungs and interact with the respiratory system. Thus, inhaled essential oils can affect the body through several systems and pathways.

During inhalation, odor molecules travel through the nose and affect the brain through a variety of receptor sites, one of which is the limbic system, which is commonly referred to as the “emotional brain.”

The limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance (Higley & Higley, 1998). This relationship helps explain why smells often trigger emotions.

I buy mine from Young Living.  You can read more at:  http://www.youngliving.com/en_US/index.html

Although I’d love to be able to buy many more, the ones I currently use to counteract loneliness and feeling sorry for myself include:

  • Live with Passion (when I want to remind myself of my intention to “go with the flow” and be “a flame in a dark place”)
  • Magnify your Purpose (before every life coaching session!, Assembly meeting, or service opportunity)
  • Valor (to unite the disparate voices within)
  • Frankincense (to counteract despair)
  • Sensation (when I want to enjoy every moment of an activity and enhance my feelings of connectedness)
  • Joy (when I want to change my orientation from the physical world to the spiritual).
  • Peace and Calming (to counteract anxiety and panic).

Bach Flower Remedies:

Fortunately I have the entire kit, so if you go to this website and fill out the form (it won’t take much time).  http://www.ritecare.com/homeopathic/bach/Open%20Remedy%20Chooser.asp

Have a look at the remedies it suggests for you and if you like, I’d be happy to make up a bottle for you and send it to you.  I’d appreciate $10 to cover the cost of postage and bottle.

Listen to Radio Nur:

I play this Bahá’í radio station all day long, so I can be exposed to uplifting messages, which remind me to turn to God as I sing along:  http://radionur.com/10701.html

Affirmations CD’s:

To counteract 50 years of negative messages programming my subconscious, I now listen to affirmations all night every night, and have their program running in the background on my computer.  The company I buy them from is Think Right Now:  www.thinkroghtnow.com/cmd.asp?af-92300

As you will see from the website, they have a lot to choose from, and they aren’t specific to loneliness.  But whenever I fall victim to feeling sorry for myself, it’s usually the result of wrong thinking, which these affirmations help overcome, so I recommend taking a look at what they have to offer.  I can’t speak highly enough of the CD’s or the company and have written to them twice to say thank you.  You can read my letters here:  https://susangammage.com/main-menu/testimonials-2/for-my-personal-story?preview=true&preview_id=294&preview_nonce=3f6d96d8ec

(my website is undergoing some changes so if this doesn’t work, please let me know)

Although I would like to buy more, the ones I am currently using include:

  • Infinite Joy
  • Freedom from Depression
  • Dissolving Panic and Anxiety
  • Releasing Fear of Failure
  • Unstoppable Motivation
  • Supreme Confidence
  • The Leader’s Mindset

Have you read “The Shack” by Wm Paul Young?  It is on the New York Times Bestseller list.  If you haven’t read it, ask around your community.  Someone is bound to have a copy to lend you.  It’s the story of a man who meets with God and given a glimpse of the next world.  In the book, God answers the age-old question about why bad things happen to good people.

The following quotes (attributed to God) really spoke to me.  The comments in brackets are my editorial comments:

“Living unloved (living with violence and abuse of any kind often leaves us feeling unloved) is like clipping a bird’s wings and removing its ability to fly.  Pain (including the emotional pain of loneliness) clips our wings and removes its ability to fly, and if left unresolved for very long, you can almost forget that you were ever created to fly in the first place”. (p. 97)

This reminds me of the Bahá’í prayer which begins:

O God! O God! This is a broken-winged bird and his flight is very slow — assist him so that he may fly toward the apex of prosperity and salvation, wing his way with the utmost joy and happiness throughout the illimitable space, raise his melody in Thy Supreme Name in all the regions, exhilarate the ears with this call, and brighten the eyes by beholding the signs of guidance.   (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 89)

The following quote was a real turn-around for me in terms of my relationship to the “rules” or “shoulds” of the Bahá’í Faith.  Because I didn’t have good role models for parents in terms of what constitutes good behaviour, I was delighted to find the guidance in the Bahá’í Writings, and clung to it rigidly.  But in doing so, I was missing the “loving God” who is “closer than my life vein” and of course, I was unable to have a relationship with Him.

“Once you have a hierarchy (any hierarchy but in this case, we’re focusing on that between us and God) you need rules to protect and administer it, and then you need law and the enforcement of the rules and you end up with some chain of command or a system of order that destroys relationship rather than promotes it.”  (p. 123)  . . . Rules will never give you answers to the deep questions of the heart and they will never love you.  (only relationships will)  (p. 198)

Of course, we know that our purpose is to “know God and worship Him”.  Obedience comes from our relationship and the grace of God and aligning our will with the will of God.  Being rigid about following the laws only breeds superiority and judgments, which leads to disunity and separates us from God.

When I was putting together the quotes in part 1, I was looking at them with new eyes – those of a loving God – showering down His divine bounty – not telling me what to do.

Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved.  Because if you don’t know that I love you, you cannot trust me.  (p. 126)

So perhaps what all of this is saying, is that it’s hard for us to have the kind of relationship with God which would alleviate our loneliness, because we haven’t had the proper foundation on which to trust Him.  And in order to develop it, we need to focus more on His love and allow it to recreate us (instead of forcing our will on obedience).  We know we’re never going to get it right all the time – the best we can hope for is to strive, little by little, day by day.

What are your thoughts?  Post your comments here: