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As a child, I always believed I was going to do something that would make the world a better place—it was in my DNA.
I desire distinction for you. The Baha’is must be distinguished from others of humanity. But this distinction must not depend upon wealth … For you I desire spiritual distinction … In the love of God you must become distinguished from all else. You must become distinguished for loving humanity, for unity and accord, for love and justice …. and service to the human world… – The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 190.
I believed this way of thought was normal—I mean, doesn’t everyone feel this way? I grew up with teachings that encouraged service, sacrifice, and the eradication of all forms of prejudice. As a Baha’i child, I learned that our reason for existence is to be of service to the world of humanity.
Life has had many different turns, and I’ve ventured down a number of diverse paths, but most recently I opened Love n’ Faith Café in the heart of our nation’s capital in Washington, DC. You see, as an entrepreneur I got into the Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream business at the very beginning of the explosion, and absolutely believed that I would become a very successful person—even franchising the concept and becoming a nationally known business—all while serving my community. No one could convince me otherwise. Now, four and a half years later, I’m on the verge of bankruptcy and fighting the feeling of being a financial failure.
Reminding myself that I’ve had many successes; that I served my community, that I achieved my goals of creating a warm and welcoming environment for all, that we do serve nutritious and delicious foods every day, that we have been a light in a community which struggles with darkness, that our customers know they’re loved and valued, and that all of our products are infused with love! However, I can’t pay my bills and every moment I am reminded by the stress that I live with, that financially I failed.
In the late summer of 2017, in one week, my most important and expensive appliances all started breaking: my ice cream pasteurizer, the ice machine, the espresso machine—I mean, we are a café, how can our espresso machine not work?! Next, the front door got stuck open, and a locksmith said it would be $1200 to fix it! This appeared to be rock bottom. I cried and felt sorry for myself for two days, and with nowhere else to go, I turned to prayer and meditation in a way that I never have before.
During this troubled time, I remembered a quote from Abdu’l-Baha that states “… the reality of man is his thought, not his material body.” – Paris Talks, p. 24.
Until all these challenges began to happen in my life, I had always seen this quote as spiritual and esoteric, somewhere out there in the “woo–woo” alternative spiritual/mystical world. However, I’ve come to realize that really this quote is quite literal! Reflecting and meditating on that wisdom, I realized I can look off to the left and share with you every challenging aspect of my life (and there are many), or I can look off to the right and share with you every good thing I have in my life. Every moment, I get to choose where to give my focus and attention.
Some days it’s easier than others, but when I start my day off with prayer and meditation, I am much more inclined to focus my energies on what is right in my world, instead of all the things that are challenging and going wrong. Which reminds me of another quote from Abdu’l-Baha that has had great impact on how I aspire to live in the world:
If we are not happy and joyous at this season, for what other season shall we wait and for what other time shall we look? – Baha’i World Faith, p. 351.
During this time, when intense contradictory emotions plagued me, I created a few new products, like the Pie in a Jar kit, which embodies everything good about my business. As something sweet for the body and sweet for the soul, it felt infused with love—as I believe that love is an actual ingredient in my foods. Because it can be shipped anywhere, it provided a much larger market than only those who walked through my doors at the café. Each kit comes complete with a virtues card, so you can let someone you know what positive attribute you see in them.
I had the opportunity to go on Great Day Washington to trial the ‘Pie in a Jar’ kit
There is so much research at our fingertips during this time about the positive effects of our thoughts and intentions, all we have to do is look to the many best-selling authors out there to see its positive and healing impact. There is an entire industry based upon the law of attraction, the power of intention, the gratitude movement and so much more.
My life changed significantly when I discovered that what I had grown up believing spiritually was actually a movement powered by scientific and social research, a movement that people all over the world are searching for, a movement that transforms lives and brings forth health and prosperity.
Watch Faith Holmes deliver a powerful talk on Racism in America at BahaiTeachings.org’s Beyond Materialism Event.
Now, don’t let me mislead you, even with this paradigm shift, every day challenges you when you feel as though you have let people down and can’t pay your bills. I mean the “tax-man” does not care about service, all he cares about is “show me the money …” However, I’m in the process of learning that the only thing I can control is my actions and how I react. Therefore, it’s made a huge difference in my outlook. If the reality of man is his thought, then I must be very careful every day where I put my focus and attention. Every day I want to work to turn towards the light, and not be enveloped by self-doubt and darkness. So I keep finding ways to be of service, of loving humanity, of working as hard as I can and of creating the life I want to live. I’m learning it’s the only way to find real solutions!
I firmly believe that each one of us was created with something beautiful and unique, something special to give to this world at this time, and that it’s our job to wake up to our potential and give that gift! For if we do not, who will?
Main image credit Nancy Wong Photography.