Although God is the supreme educator, our parents have a responsibility to educate us. They are His emissaries, who can show us God’s direction in our lives through their modeling.
It is enjoined upon the father and mother, as a duty, to strive with all effort to train the daughter and the son, to nurse them from the breast of knowledge and to rear them in the bosom of sciences and arts.
This responsibility is so strong, that if it isn’t done properly, there are severe consequences for both parent . . .
Should they neglect this matter, they shall be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of the stern Lord. This is a sin unpardonable . . .
. . . for they have made that poor babe a wanderer in the Sahara of ignorance, unfortunate and tormented; to remain during a lifetime a captive of ignorance and pride, negligent and without discernment . . . for in the sight of mankind that child is abased and degraded and in the sight of God weak and defective. In gatherings it is ashamed and humiliated and in the arena of examination subdued and defeated by young and old. What a mistake is this! What an everlasting humiliation!
Verily, if that babe depart from this world at the age of infancy, it is sweeter and better. In this sense, death is better than life; deprivation than salvation; non-existence lovelier than existence; the grave better than the palace; and the narrow, dingy tomb better than the spacious, regal home. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 398)
I was looking at this quote tonight, and thinking about the consequences of my own abuse, which has left me wandering in ignorance (fortunately I have the Writings to teach me how to behave); tormented (with anxiety and depression); captive (wanting to break free but until recently not knowing how). I was abased (through not being able to work at paid employment) and degraded (not having enough money and having to make use of soup kitchens and food banks). I was always afraid I wasn’t living up to God’s expectations because all the Writings were “should’s” which I couldn’t meet. I was ashamed of not being able to participate in community life, and easily defeated and discouraged by other people’s judgments of me.
And as ‘Abdul-Bahá suggested, for most of my life, I wanted to die. I wanted to start over in the next world, free of all the defects of an abusive childhood.
Ultimately my parents lost their right of parenthood (which meant I didn’t have to ask them for consent), and I had to find another way to find my way back to God.
And I wondered, if our parents didn’t do a good job, how can we ever know God’s love? What has been your experience? Post your comments here.