Thursday, April 28, 2011

Incompetence and Overwhelmedness

Wow. It has been way too long since I have looked at a piece of the Writings and studied it here with you. Sorry about that. Even though time has often gotten away on me, that is no excuse.
Hmm. What should we look at? Any suggestions?

Yes, you in the checkered shirt, there in the corner. A quote about incompetence? About the feeling of being overwhelmed? Ok. Sure. Why not?

There is a wonderful quote about that very topic from the Guardian. It's one of my favorites.

"If only the friends could realize it, the glory of our Faith is not that people with unique abilities do the work of the Cause, but that it is done by the sacrifice of loving and devoted souls who arise selflessly to undertake work they feel themselves incompetent, sometimes, to achieve. God works through them and endows them with gifts they did not dream they could ever possess."

Now I have to admit, I was actually thinking about looking at something from Baha'u'llah, Himself, but this quote will do.

Aside: (Have you noticed that some of the little phrases I used to use all the time when I first starting writing haven't gotten used much lately? I wonder why that is.) I was at a meeting a few days ago and I mentioned something about my blog (this one here). I can't recall what it was, but anyways, someone said, "Oh, your blog. Every time I search for something on the net about a topic within the Faith, your blog comes up first." Well I think that's disappointing. No, really. I do.


You see, I have tried to encourage more and more Baha'is to write about the Faith on a regular basis. "You don't have to write anything profound. Just write. I mean, look at my stuff. It's not profound. It's just written. And not very well written at that! Run-on sentences. Sentence fragments. (Which I guess average out.) And how often do my sentences start with a conjunction? My eighth grade English teacher would be rolling over in her grave, if she were dead."

So many people have said how glad they are that I am doing this. Why? Because they feel that they can't, and are glad that someone else can.

"Blargh", I say. (You can quote me on that.) We all can add in our bit. And we all need to. The work of the Faith is not done by people with unique abilities. It is done by the sincere efforts of those who arise to do it.

How many stories are there of the Hands of the Cause who were shocked by their appointment because knew how unworthy they were? John Robarts thought the telegraph was for his wife. When William Sears was appointed, he wrote back to the Guardian saying, "Not worthy." The Guardian replied, "Get worthy".

And that last, "Get worthy", has been a guiding light for me ever since I first read about it.

We are all called to do things for this Faith of ours that we know we cannot do. If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would be writing about the Faith to the tune of 150 articles a year, I would have laughed. "No way. I can't do that."

But when we arise, trust in God, open our hearts to Him, offer our meager services, beseech His assistance, and do what we see needs to be done, then miracles occur.

I have learned so much by writing here, often surprising myself by what gets uncovered in our conversations, dear Reader. Oh, and make no mistake, this is a conversation to me. I really feel like we are talking with each other. I listen to your advice and read your comments. I take your suggestions to heart (except for the one who said that it was inappropriate to write ones own ideas about the Faith) (well, actually I did take that to heart, examined my own motives for doing this, and then I found clear guidance to the contrary in the Writings), listen to your requests, and ask your opinion.

If there is anything I could say here, it would be to say your prayers, trust in God and just take that step. (Hey! I can say it here. I just did. Wow.)

But there is another issue, aside from that of this unworthy and incompetent servant writing this blog, and that is the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Did you know that the word "whelm" means to cover over? So when you are overwhelmed, it means you are over-covered. It feels as if you are drowning.

But it also reminds me of a quote from Baha'u'llah: "Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths."

And when I was searching for that quote to cut and paste, I also found these: "...immerse yourselves in this Ocean in whose depths lay hidden the pearls of wisdom and of utterance" and "Cleave thou, therefore, with the whole affection of thine heart, unto His love, and withdraw it from the love of any one besides Him, that He may aid thee to immerse thyself in the ocean of His unity, and enable thee to become a true upholder of His oneness."

I can't really speak for anyone else, but when I feel overwhelmed, it is because I am attached to a particular way of doing something, or a particular outcome. What I need to do at those times is just learn to let go, to be detached. For example, when I am concerned about writing an article every other day, when I feel that pressure to just produce, nothing comes out. You can look back at when I didn't write for a few days and see how often that happens. But then, when I let go of that attachment and just allow the words to flow, then I can write for days.

It is sort of like a garden hose. If you want to water the garden, you just have to turn on the tap and point the hose. If you clutch at the hose, gripping it for all it's worth, straining your hands trying to make sure it goes exactly where you want it to go, then you actually restrict the flow of water. You crimp the very hose you are trying to use, and nothing comes out.

But if you hold it loosely, but firmly, the water flows freely, albeit a bit all over the place. And you know what? That's good. There may be some hidden seeds of which you were unaware. Surprises happen that way.

Sort of like this article.

Maybe tomorrow I'll go through my drafts folder and see what I began but never finished. Or maybe I'll find a passage to study.

Who knows?

Or maybe I'll just water my garden.


  1. I really enjoyed this entry and this is the first time I've been here to your blog site. I found it very helpful and I thank you so much as this is a subject I'm working on right now! The quotes add to it, as I'm sure you know. I am 55 yrs old and am just now refining what my purpose might be at this point in my life and as a Baha'i, I want it to be about spreading the Light! This has helped me to focus and not feel so "overwhelmed"! Again, thank you! Carol

  2. Great observations and insights for me! Thank you for such affirmations! I write a lot, both on the Faith and the Writings and on just about everything else. I find that the Faith illuminates everything I write in various ways, so I go back to read and research the depthless sea of the Writings again and again, in a cycle of inhalation and exhalation of light. I just try to make my exhalations a little better lighted.

    Please keep doing this! Always!

    - Dana

  3. Superb post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic?
    I'd be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further.

  4. I am curious where the "get worthy" story is from. Is there a reference?