Many times in life, we build expectations about how certain future events should be. We make our plans and get excited…and then things turn out totally differently.
And when things don’t go the way we wanted, it’s easy to become disillusioned and feel like all is lost.
Recently, it almost happened to me.
You see: my current job ended the day before Ramadan started, and I’m due to start my next job tomorrow insha-Allah. That gave me a good 11 day holiday – covering the first third of Ramadan. For this period, I’d set out a list of how I’d like to maximize my time – taking full advantage to work on the spiritual / religious and (some) worldly aspects of my life that need attention.
The first few days kind of slipped away – as I’d anticipated they would due to Ramadan starting on a weekend. And although the day after that was relatively productive, I still didn’t cover what I’d planned to. “No worries”, I thought – “there’s still more than a week to set things right”.
The next day came an explosion in my personal life. A kind of drama that comes up from time to time – a recurring conflict that’s haunted me for years, and had been dormant for almost a full year – until now.
I won’t go into any details – other than saying that it’s not something that can be easily resolved, because the core of it is two diametrically opposed points of view; and neither side will change – unless by miracle. (And since it’s a month for miracles, I’m hoping for one.)
So while this month so far – this ‘holiday’ of mine – was supposed to be about spirituality and peace and progress, instead it’s largely been one of inner turmoil, stress, and worldly pressures dominating my thoughts and robbing me of the tremendous opportunity I thought I’d have in these days.
For a long time, I couldn’t let it go. I’d hoped the situation would be resolved quickly – one way or another. But that wasn’t to be. It was being drawn out longer and longer, and I eventually realized I couldn’t let it eat at me the way it was doing. Shaytaan may be locked up this month, but hallmarks of his whisperings are still with me: my internal bad habit of obsessing about problems and having imaginary arguments in my head dragged on and on for far longer than I wanted.
While all this was going on, I was aware of the fact that my Ramadan was slipping away. I just couldn’t get into the spirit of it. I couldn’t / didn’t do as I had planned due to this drama – and it felt like the time was just passing me and I was powerless: like this amazing ‘train’ of barakah (i.e. Ramadan) was moving, and I was being left behind.
In such a situation – as I said above – it’s easy to just lose hope and give up. Be angry at what happened and blame it for ruining my entire month – because even though there’s still most of the month to come, my start was spoilt in a horrible way, and my ambitions were in tatters.
But – alhamdullilah – that didn’t happen. Regarding the drama, I was eventually able to just let it go. A resolution did come in the end, and although the episode wasn’t pleasant, it’s something I’m comfortable with, and something that’ll need to move forward – regardless of the opposing views.
And regarding my plans, I resigned myself to the reality that I wouldn’t get close to what I’d hoped to achieve. But the bright side was that I did manage to maintain a decent level of consistency in some things. And like I often say – in reference to a hadith –consistency in small things is far better than a few big efforts that aren’t sustainable.
Plus, much of my time in these days was filled with a different experience – one that I hadn’t anticipated: spending a tremendous amount of time alone with my daughter (which is rare in the ‘normal’ routines of life – when I’m working). So while I missed out on my personal development (as I had planned), I got amazing and priceless moments with her – which I hope will be of maximum benefit to us both as life now returns to ‘normal’ from tomorrow insha-Allah.
It would have been easy to write off this month – fall into the trap of despair and inaction due to the challenges that derailed me. But I know there was some greater purpose in all of this – the timing of what happened, and the pain and trouble that it came with. Although we plan, Allah is the best of planners – so I know that even though I’m not yet sure what the lesson is, I have to accept that this is what Allah decreed for me at this point; and that this was what was best for me.
So to round off here, the moral of the story is to always try to keep the bigger picture in mind – particularly in difficult situations: Allah is in total control, and whatever happens to you is what’s best for you. So even if you can’t understand why things are ‘going wrong’ at the time, know that it’s not the end of the world: try to bear patience, keep the link with Him strong (via dua and consistent good deeds and ibadah), and insha-Allah once you get through the difficulty, you’ll see the wisdom in the experience, and appreciate the benefit and strength you gained from it.
If I don’t write again this month, I’d like to leave one final message which I hope will suffice for the remaining weeks: focus on your relationship with Allah – your personal relationship with Him. Whether you’re facing difficulty or conflict, or you have some desperate need, or even if things are going well and there are no problems in your life – in all cases, the bond between you and your Creator is the thing that’s most important. This is a bond that will serve you well both in terms of worldly endeavours and the spiritual realm, and both in this life and the one to come once you leave this world.
And even if you can’t feel it right now or don’t feel sincere enough in it, that doesn’t limit His closeness to you, and His ability to give you everything you need and want – even if you feel you don’t deserve it.
All you need is sincerity. Humble yourself to Him, and realize your need of Him, and insha-Allah your heart will drive you to the best of thoughts and actions to find the fulfillment you need.