This is a tough one to write.
I began writing this with the intent of it being somewhat of a rant that would turn into a learning process for me, but as I did so, I gave it some thought, prayed and made Dua, and realized that it would be best to forgive myself and forgive those of these past few years who have made me angry, frustrated, and disappointed. I have spent the last year or so going through experiences of fluctuating emotions, tests of patience, and changes in the way of how I perceive and interact with people. Yet, despite all of these intense and shattering emotions hurting and breaking me, they have also given me the opportunity to rebuild myself into a stronger man, and have given me more ambition in embracing the Hadith:
“A believer doesn’t get bitten twice from the same lair.” – Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
I won’t go into details about what lead to me realizing the truths that have brought me to the point I’m at now, out of respect for myself, others who have come and gone from my life, those who have remained, and out of trust in Allah, as I believe that the past is in the past, and we should leave it there. Still, I will try to speak on the lessons I have learned during this time, so as to give myself a reminder through which to continue my growth, and to perhaps help any of you that may have experienced difficulties or struggles during your lives.
People are truly unpredictable, as their true intentions are unknown to us, and sometimes even to themselves, which can result in them leaving us stranded at the end of our time with them. This applies in any form of relationship (that isn’t secured by being rooted in the hopes to please God, or towards a better good, in my opinion); romantic relationships, friendships, work relationships, family relationships, etc.
Often, we look at the circumstances we face, or see the ways in which our efforts resulted in something other than what we desired or hoped for, and we feel that perhaps, we were the ones who didn’t make enough of an effort, even if we knew that we had given our best towards that relationship. Through this realization, I’ve learned that if we can reflect back on our experiences and relationships, and say that we put our best foot forward, we should be strong enough to walk away from a situation with contentment in knowing that we did our best, and accepting that what happened was because the other person didn’t do their part (the pessimistic approach), or that there’s something better for us that God is reserving us for (the optimistic approach). My personal approach has seemed to linger in a balance between pessimism and optimism, when it comes to matters as these.
Still, in an effort to remain optimistic, I strive to forgive those who have hurt me, betrayed me, or made things difficult for me when better options were available. That group of people includes myself. I recognize that in all that we face, we all play a role, to varying degrees, in which we allowed ourselves to experience what we experienced. That said, one of the first steps towards moving forward is forgiving yourself for your thoughts, actions, etc. and recognizing that what you went through was necessary for you to grow into who you are now.
After doing this, work towards forgiving others. No matter how horrific or painful the things that have been said or done towards you are, forgive. I know this is easier said than done, especially when there is so much emotion involved and invested, especially if it all came unexpectedly, but for your own sake and sanity, you have to let go and forgive. Allah will reward you with something better if you leave something for His Sake. I promise you, it’s better for you.
All of this may take time, but what’s most important is not that you force yourself to forgive and move forward, but rather, that you proactively work towards forgiving yourself and others until your heart can find peace. A key that I’ve found towards doing this is not speaking about the problems, but recognizing that they are of the past, and that they slowly need to be given the opportunity to leave your heart and mind.
A personal example is one of an individual that was very dear and close to me for the last two years, and is no longer a part of my life. That experience left me angry, disappointed, saddened, and confused. But, I chose to turn to Allah, Alhamdulillah, and as time continues to progress, I see more and more reason to understand how that person being a part of life was, in fact, keeping me from fully embracing myself in my life goals, how that person would not help me in the long run towards becoming who I hoped to become, and how I deserved much better in the types of people I allowed into my life. But, that realization only began to come into effect as I left things to Allah. I am still working towards forgiving that person, but I am pleased with how things turned out, because from it, I have learned lessons, and have learned to appreciate others that have entered my life since. So, ultimately, I can say with great conviction and pleasure, Alhamdulillah.
We all go through our struggles when it comes to working hard and reaching our goals, and at times, what we planned doesn’t fall into place. Take it as a blessing. I understand how difficult it can be to let go of something that you’ve worked so long and hard towards, but there comes a point at which you need to reevaluate your approach towards your goals. That doesn’t mean that you should throw aside your goals and work towards things that are more “realistic”, but instead, it just means that you should be open to exploring different ways through which you can reach your goal.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
The beauty of living freely towards reaching your goals is that there is no right or wrong answer as to how you can achieve your ambitions. By working hard in the way you see most fit, you will find yourself motivated and inspired. Pray Isthikhaarah (the prayer for guidance) before you start an approach towards your goal, and if you find yourself struggling, pray it again. As long as the ambition towards using that approach remains in your heart with ease, keep at it. But, if you find yourself struggling, and deliberately holding on to something, step away from it, pray Isthikhaarah again, and keep your heart and mind open to other options. Allah will guide you towards what’s best for you.
To give you an example, for the last few years, one of my companies has been building, but I always felt as though something was missing, and that I couldn’t feel a connection to it. I had lost the original vision behind the project, and felt lost. So, I recently detached myself from the old ways of pursuing success in that business, and began to seek guidance from Allah, prayed Isthikhaarah, and took some time away from it all to think about what my vision originally was, and how I wanted to make it a reality in my own way. After some time, it dawned on me, and now, I am happier than ever in how I am approach the services provided by this particular company.
Ah, the greatest component of one’s life (in my opinion) is this: faith. Without it, I would honestly be a reflection of chaos, scattered thoughts, and depression. The beauty of faith is that it is very natural when you truly submit to it, because you go through ups and downs, and experience an onslaught of emotions and confusion as you battle your soul towards helping it grow. The soul can be very stubborn sometimes, but it is through that, that we grow into becoming stronger in mind and heart.
How does all of this relate to life and its surprises? Well, what I’ve found through the challenges and changes of my relationships with people and my work experiences, is that because the intention was always (to the best of my abilities) to please God, ultimately, EVERYTHING that happened, both the seemingly good and the seemingly bad, ended up bringing me closer to Him. I was surprised to find myself overcoming major challenges in my faith, and it was through His Mercy and Love that I was able to experience those blessings. I can’t express my gratitude to Him for everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen, and I pray that He gives me the opportunity, ability, cognizance, and consciousness to continue to praise Him, thank Him, and remember Him.
In The End…
There is no end. That’s the thing. Even after death, our deeds continue to benefit us. Even after The Day of Judgment, we have an eternity to experience the results of our actions in this life.
Life will throw us surprises through situations and experiences that will baffle us. At times, we will lead ourselves, be it through the whispers and invitations of Shaitaan and others or not, towards paths that will benefit us, as long as we strive towards pleasing Him, and remember that our return is ultimately to Him.
You have to live your life to the fullest and do what makes YOU happiest. Many of us lead lives to please others, in fear that without doing so, we will lose their love or commitment. But, we have to build relationships with those we think make us happiest, we have to pursue our goals that make us happiest, and we can’t accept any less. This is unfortunately a tough and often pushed aside thought for many, but it’s on us to do our best to live as happy of lives as we can. Live to please God and yourself. Everyone else will love you for it, eventually. Be pleased with your life and what it brings, because every experience has its purpose, and every scar has its story.