Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Love Them For the Sake of God

(A Likeness of 'Abdu'-Baha as rendered by Kahlil Gibran)

So it's been one of those days where people who should know better seemed determined to give me a hard time, in spite of my having treated them with utmost kindness, love and genuine regard. Ever have a day like that? Such people seem to be popping up in my life all over the place recently. The Baha'i Writings would refer to such experiences as a "test":

The necessity and the particularity of the assured and believing ones is to be firm in the Cause of God and withstand the hidden and evident tests. Thanks be to God that you are distinguished and made eminent by this blessing. Anybody can be happy in the state of comfort, ease, health, success, pleasure and joy; but if one will be happy and contented in the time of trouble, hardship and prevailing disease, it is the proof of nobility. Thanks be to God that that dear servant of God is extremely patient under the disastrous circumstances, and in the place of complaining gives thanks.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 363)

As I wrestled with my feelings of aggression toward these souls, I thought of 'Abdu'l-Baha who Baha'is view as the perfect example of how a Baha'i should be. I asked myself what 'Abdu'l-Baha would do, sort of like Christians who ask "What Would Jesus Do?" I remembered these words which have touched my heart and troubled my mind since I first became a Baha'i almost ten years ago:

You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God. Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every human being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves. But if you look toward God, you will love them and be kind to them, for the world of God is the world of perfection and complete mercy. Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections. The eye that covers faults looks toward the Creator of souls.
(Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 93)

I've always found this statement amazing and much easier said than done. But I turned to the Creator of souls in prayer and asked for the necessary love for the people who are doing me wrong. I prayed that they would be freed from whatever unhappiness or egotism that was holding them captive. I remembered my own faults and asked for forgiveness and mercy. And little by little, I felt a change in my heart. I don't think the testing is over, but I'm moving toward being grateful for this opportunity to grow spiritually and learn whatever it is these experiences have to teach me.