Idle Fancies and Vain Imaginations

We have forbidden men to walk after the imaginations of their hearts, that they may be enabled to recognize Him Who is the sovereign Source and Object of all knowledge, and may acknowledge whatsoever He may be pleased to reveal. Witness how they have entangled themselves with their idle fancies and vain imaginations. By My life! They are themselves the victims of what their own hearts have devised, and yet they perceive it not. Vain and profitless is the talk of their lips, and yet they understand not.

We beseech God that He may graciously vouchsafe His grace unto all men, and enable them to attain the knowledge of Him and of themselves. By My life! Whoso hath known Him shall soar in the immensity of His love, and shall be detached from the world and all that is therein. Nothing on earth shall deflect him from his course, how much less they who, prompted by their vain imaginations, speak those things which God hath forbidden.

(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 204)

If it's Thy Will, open the door wide for me.
If it's not Thy Will, close and lock the door tight
and throw away the key so I won't try to sneak back in.

(Angela's personal variation of an anonymous recovery prayer, which recognizes her propensity to be stubbornly determined to do life her way.)

Yesterday morning, my Baha'i community observed the Feast of Sultan, or Knowledge. The quotations cited in the above paragraph were part of the devotional portion of the Feast, and I have been reflected on these words all day, along with the word "fidelity" which was the virtue I pulled out two days ago from my deck of Virtues cards. For those of you who don't know, the Virtues Project has produced a beautiful deck of cards that explain many of the virtues that would benefit a person seeking greater understanding of her/his self as a spiritual being. The cards not only have a spiritual definition of each virtue that a person can attain in life, but they also give affirmations to say and suggestions for practicing the virtue.

I don't always pull out my Virtues cards, but since my emotional and spiritual state has plummeted to depths that I experienced only when my brother Ricky died, I figured I would start using the cards more often. I need all the help I can get. During my 12 step meetings, the word "motive" has been significantly prominent in the sharing of some of my meeting fellows. Between the readings at Feast, the Virtues card, and the word "motive" being repeated over and over at different 12 step meetings, I figure it's time I examine what these words mean to me in terms of my recovery from both food addiction and co-dependency (I've added a different recovery group that deals specifically with co-dependency issues to my weekly schedule of meetings).

I'll come back to the quoted passages from the Gleanings in a bit, but I need to move on to the Virtues card that discussed "fidelity". What does that word mean, exactly? You can look it up in the dictionary if you like, but I prefer the Virtues Project's description:

Fidelity is abiding by an agreement, treating it as a personal covenant. It is remaining true to a cherished idea no matter what happens to thwart our purpose. Marriage thrives when we fulfill our promise of absolute faithfulness to each other. In each relationship we form, fidelity keeps us scrupulously loyal. We avoid backbiting and casting blame. We call on our courage to resolve differences face to face. We are devoted to our employment and keep faith with a standard excellence. We continually aim to be trustworthy. Fidelity keeps us on a path of true integrity.

My personal covenant, one that I made this past summer at the Trust workshop with Linda and Dan Popov at Bosch Baha'i School, is that I will do whatever is necessary to recover from food addiction, and that I would let go of everything that I have used in the past--all the shortcuts, "little" lies and "half-truths"--and let God lead me where I need to go in recovery. All I needed to do was be willing to show up and allow other recovering people help me. Those people are God's angels in flesh, ready to do what is necessary to get me through each day.

I was willing. At first. Then I became scared, and I stopped trusting God. A very short-sighted, unbelievably dumb thing to do. I just couldn't understand how I was supposed to get through having my parents live with me, deal with a relationship with a member of the opposite sex that wasn't supposed to be whatever, and move my parents into their own place while I move into a different apartment across town, and do so without the rest of family calling me "selfish". (My parents and I did move into separate places, but no such luck on the "selfish" tag.) I couldn't deal. I took back the food. Temporarily, for which I am extremely grateful.

But even that short fall into sugar and flour products was enough to scare me . I can't live like that anymore. Yesterday I was abstinent, in spite of the fact that my sponsor seems to have dropped out of the program, and I'm doing everything one day at a time with a temporary sponsor. Today I am abstinent. And tomorrow, God willing, I will renew the covenant I made with God this past summer and work the program of recovery from food addiction the way it has worked for those who have gone before me and found a solution to the same problem. That is my fervent prayer for the rest of today, and for tomorrow. My relapse was a test, lovingly placed by God to see if I will trust and depend wholly on Him. I see that now, in ways that I couldn't before. God is not punishing me. He leaves me to my devices if I do not turn to Him or His representatives here on this material plane. The people in my recovery programs are not God, but they represent His side of the agreement by helping me through all this. I'm too powerless over food to do this alone.

The word "motive" has also been on my mind. While getting dressed one morning, I had a sudden flashback. It was a scene from my childhood, and I was about four or five years old. As usual, my parents were arguing loudly in another room, and my stomach was knotted with unbearable tension. I heard the words my parents were using, but I could also feel the hidden meaning behind those words: "Who has the job in this house? Who pays the bills here?" My father. "What are you saying, I don't work? Who irons your fatigues? Who cooks your food? And you don't ever pay the bills unless I say something about it! My mother. "Look, I just got home from work; I don't need to be listening to this bulls***! "

Then, the silencer: "If you don't like the way I do things, you can go right on back to Leesburg!" Kidney punch, the below-the-belt shot from hell. Worked every time. I could literally feel my mother crumbling inside. My mother's hometown was a horrible, nightmarish place for her, and my father knew it. When Mom was arguing, I would always want her to stop before the situation escalated to that threat of abandonment. She never did. Strangely enough, I never thought about how my father shouldn't be so inconsiderate and ungrateful for the things my mother did for him. Even as a child, I knew how the money flowed in the household, and that my survival in life depended on his income. Naturally, I wanted him to be happy, for that reason only. But once he threatened to dump my mother in Leesburg, I became enraged. No one talks to my mother like that, not even my father! I wanted her to have a comeback; say something that would hit him square in the solar plexus and land him on his behind. Again, she never did. I always felt crushed and despondent in the aftermath.

Subtext message: You are a woman, and your job is to serve without complaint, no matter what. You should be grateful that a man wants you because you could be stuck where you were before you got married. Once you do get married, or have a relationship, you don't matter. What you do in life isn't important, except how it affects the man in your life. Everything in life centers on the man.

I felt that, very clearly. And I got it. The feminist movement made a theoretical/philosophical dent in that early programming, but when it came to my own relationships with men, I never felt that I mattered. Now this is MY issue, and it has affected the way I communicate with the opposite sex. I can't blame my parents for this because this is the mentality that I have adopted. Even if my father turned into a staunch supporter of women's rights (and he claims that he is), it wouldn't change the miles of negative tapes running through my brain. I have to get rid of that poison, or condemn myself to a life of bitterness. I don't want that. I would like to one day have a healthy relationship with whomever God wills for me. Because of that flashback, I now see what I have to do to make that happen.

I have a lot of work to do. And I won't get there through idle fancies and vain imaginings about the "perfect love" and the "perfect body". I have to dig down deep and be willing to do my part of the agreement. I have no idea where it will lead me, and right now it doesn't matter. God controls the show, not me. And for the first time in my Taurus ascendant-ruled (synonymous with willful pride) life, I'm willing to accept that.


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