One week into Ramadaan, I find myself scared. Scared that it’s going so fast. Scared that I’m nowhere near where I want to be. Scared that if I don’t step up now, it’ll be over before I know it.
I entered the month with so much hope, so many plans and so much determination to implement them. I had a schedule, a categorised list of things to work on, and the enthusiasm to get moving on it right from day one.
And then it hit me: illness. Aches that hurt the physical being, and tiredness which clung onto the mental, stripping away any hope I had of getting that good start I hoped for.
But there was hope, because despite the setbacks, I refused to give in. I didn’t want to admit defeat to an illness which – in my view – was more an irritation than a serious medical concern (thought it could well have turned into that). The timing was frustrating, but it all fell within a bigger picture – a wiser plan which I’ve yet to comprehend.
And now, with a week gone, the physical strength is back (alhamdullilah), but so too is laziness. And this is not the time for laziness.
Added to that, a recent medical discovery has meant I’ve got to make some changes in something which is very dear to me, but a terrible habit which has spiralled almost uncontrollably this year. Some might call it silly, but each of us has our struggles. And this has been my biggest one in recent months. And now I’m forced to change. No choice – I have to, because if I don’t, the long term consequences can be serious.
So, it’s fuel to the fire I’m trying to rekindle within me. And I’m grateful, because – I’m ashamed to say – it often takes something external to be imposed in order for me to make a real change. Change used to come easier, but as I’m getting older, it’s much, much harder.
I’m learning the lesson first hand, that it’s better to change while you’re young and have the chance. I’m not that old yet, but it reminds me how far I’ve got to go, and the discipline I need to inculcate in order to live a life of continuous improvement. Or at least one in which I’m progressing, rather than standing still or falling back into old (bad) habits.
But hey, this is a month for discipline. A month in which change is easier to implement. In actual fact, it’s really like a microcosm of the rest of the year when it comes to self-discipline:
During the fasting day, we can watch ourselves and behave properly. We can see what we’re capable of when it comes to restraining our lower desires and being at our best.
When night comes, and we’re ‘free’ again to indulge, we hopefully remember that we’ve fasted for all those daylight hours – and it would be a mockery to recklessly stuff ourselves full of everything we lay our eyes on. (Though, ironically, this is the month where there’s more food than any other time of year).
That’s pretty much like the relationship between Ramadaan and the other 11 months: we have one month of restraint, then 11 others in which we should try to remember what we did, and hopefully maintain some level of that discipline.
It’s a hard lesson to learn, self-discipline, but one which is critical to our success in this life and the Hereafter, for “Allah loves not the prodigals”.
Whatever your personal struggles this Ramadaan, I hope it’s getting easier day by day. May the next three weeks bring with it heightened awareness of where we are, where we want to be, and how to get there.
Keep the faith