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So many things in my life, contrary to my wishes, seem to have been pre-ordained, starting with a childhood filled with horrendous sexual and physical abuse from birth to age 17, when I finally escaped.
As a small child, God was my imaginary best friend and He and I had many conversations. I begged Him to make the abuse and the suffering stop, but it just got worse.
At school, and in Sunday School, I learned to sing a song whose refrain went: “If God can see the sparrow fall, I know He must see me.” But I didn’t feel seen or loved or protected, so I convinced myself that God wasn’t real. He was just a story adults told to children, like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.
I turned away from God and became an atheist for 10 years.
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But when I was introduced to the Baha’i Faith more than 40 years ago, and first read some of the Baha’i writings, I felt quickly convinced that they could only have come from the Creator. In them I saw a blueprint for world peace, and I thought that maybe there was also a blueprint for my own inner peace, at the individual level, to help me recover from the mess of my childhood.
My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt, attain.
Since then, more and more things contrary to my wishes have come my way. In fact, this life has been pretty disappointing on many levels. I won’t bore you with the litany of my hurts, as I’m sure you have yours, too. We all do.
When I first came into the Baha’i Faith, I believed in a punishing God. In my child’s logic, I thought that since my parent’s love was abusive, therefore my Heavenly Father’s love must also be abusive. I was absolutely certain that God was going to punish me for everything I did or didn’t do right, just as I had been punished by my parents in my childhood.
I truly believed that I had to earn a ton of spiritual brownie points, and that the more I collected, the better my afterlife would be. I held on to that belief for the first 30 years of my Baha’i life! It didn’t matter that every Baha’i prayer I read ended with God’s attributes such as: the All-Loving, the Most Compassionate, the Every-Forgiving, etc. Nowhere did I find the All-Vengeful, the All-Condemning, the All-Punishing, etc. I made it all up!
Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty.
The Creator who created me loves me and prays for me, as this prayer from Abdu’l-Baha testifies:
I love thee with all my heart and pray for thee every eve and morn. I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.
If I would only fully know how much I was loved by God, the Baha’i teachings tell me, I could fly:
Indeed could ye but know how dear ye are in the presence of your true and heavenly Father, ye would stretch forth your wings and take your flight.
Back to the opening quote: No matter how many things contrary to my wishes have been ordained in this physical life, look at what I’ve been promised. Now, whenever I find myself wondering about the days of blissful joy that await me, I remember these promises and hold my head up higher. I am still just stretching my wings but trust that very soon I’ll be ready to take flight, and with this hope in my heart, I am grateful!