Friday, January 20, 2012

Have a Talk With God

As salaam alaikum,

(6:48) "And We send [Our] message-bearers only as heralds of glad tidings and as warners: hence, all who believe and live righteously -no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve" (emphasis added)

I am also called to mind this song by Stevie Wonder, haha, my favorite musician ever:

Masha'Allah and Alhamdulillah!

There are worldly solutions to many of the problems we face in our daily lives. You can mediate, you can think in terms of statistics, like, really, what is the chance that this plane I'm in that's suffering this terrible turbulence over this mountain range is going to crash? This flight has never suffered a crash, people fly every day and most days there's no plane's said that the most dangerous parts of the flight are the takeoff and landing, and we're in neither, and how many crashes take place mid-flight, anyway?

Or, one could place their trust in God, in whose dominion there is no error, there is no weakness as therre is in our ability to meditate on the positive or be consoled by the statistics of life.

This is one example of an anxiety that we face, but not all of us. I was informed by a friend that she never thought of the precariousness of flight, or the wonder of a plane to propel itself into the atmosphere and remain adrift in the air, just because she "always" assumes that everything will work out. She found my anxieties unhealthy, and maybe it is. I wouldn't call it a disorder, though, because it's never paralyzed me in my daily life or kept me from aspiring and achieving my dreams.

But it just takes me to a different level of God consciousness.

I never assume things will work out. I know, alhamdulillah, that everything will work out, insha'Allah, the way it should. I just also know that the intermediate outcomes may not be to my liking, because as He tells us, "it may well be that you hate a thing the while it is good for you, and it may well be that you love a thing the while it is bad for you: and God knows, whereas you do not know" (2:216).

And while I knew, insha'Allah, that everything would work out, the God knows and you don't part was what caused me anxiety, and basically caused me to revert to doubt, anxiety...

That plane could crash, I may not be the great physician I aspire to be, I may never get married, and if I do, I may be infertile...and though I may hate these outcomes, God knows what I do not.

Alhamdulillah, I am no longer burdened by these thoughts and insha'Allah, this respite from these anxieties should continue. And it's not because I'm meditating or thinking of statistics, nor is it really because I'm thinking of what God in general wants for us, and why what He should want for me is the marriage and family I desire, at least...

Because the truth always remains, God knows what we do not, including the future, including His intent for us in this existence and the grander intent He may have for us as our eternal selves in the Hereafter. I will not know, and that is part of the beauty of the human experience. I will struggle in pain but I will also be pleasantly surprised, and the reward is with Him in the end, greater than any reward in this life and greater than the balance of the cumulative pain felt in this world.

It helped me some to meditate in this way: to recognize that sometimes I will feel pain, that sometimes I will be anxious or lonely, or sometimes a remembrance will bring me sadness, but this is okay. I have the tendency to get anxious when I'm sad and it ends with me downward spiraling into a self-pity fest, or, to be less hard on myself, desperation. I tend to be haunted by the thought that maybe I'm not strong enough, that I was made weak, and that this is manifested in my occasional depression. It helped me a few months back to meditate on the fact that this is how I feel now, and that it's permissible, if not justified, that I feel the way that I do.

But that didn't help always, and I found myself in a desperation at one point that I had little patience for and no longer wanted to be in.

This meditation did not work because God was absent in my considerations, and my methods were therefore weak.

So instead, I will "meditate" in prayer.

I began feeling anxious upon talking to a friend of mine who is also applying in family medicine. She's planning to go to a program in Chicago that sounds like an excellent program. I began to doubt my decision to not apply to any Chicago programs, began second-guessing my first choice program in favor of another that would be closer to her, began wondering if there were similarly other jewels of residency programs that would have been in places that would be better fits for me than my top choices, and I began wondering how I would ever make this choice.

And then, that ayah above (which comes up multiple times in the Qur'an) came into my mind, and I smiled, smacked myself on the forehead and said, "Duh!" I'll pray on it, I decided, like everything else. Why hadn't that occurred to me?

Well, let me be real on two fronts. One, of course praying about these things occurs to me, but I think often I pray on a macro level and do not recognize the opportunity to seek guidance (because that's really what prayer comes down to in this context) on a micro level. Like, here is an individual doubt that could possibly breed anxiety. If I let that anxiety blow up on a big scale, I'll find myself doubting my training, my community, my career. It's not about that. Alhamdulillah, I'll become an excellent family physician whichever program I match in out of my top three. The question is, which one should I go in order to realize the full extent of my blessings...

And that is why I have payed istikhara and have faith that I will be heard, as I always have been, masha'Allah.

And my life is as it should be, masha'Allah.

On the second front...I know this new security comes in part due to the fact that I am now talking to an interesting, admirable and intelligent brother in Islam. And while I let anxiety and insecurity overtake me shortly after hearing the news of this interested Muslim from a non-Muslim friend of mine, I calmed when I talked to him a few days back and got to hear his voice and know how easy it was to talk to him...for two hours.

It's easy to have this security in my faith now and trust in Allah (swt) once I see the possible synthesis of a prayer I've had over the years fall into place...or at the very least, understand some of the reasons why it could be a while in the making (or at the very least be inspired to another strong story idea)...but what if this were to go away? Will I be strong enough to talk with the conviction that I do now about the ease with which I can make decisions by simply having a talk with God, asking for guidance, praying salatul istikhara?

Insha'Allah. In the meantime, instead of letting these doubts degenerate into anxiety, I will also take this issue to I did my burgeoning relationship with B, that I nearly through a tantrum about in the course of letting him go, but that I should have realized was the answer to the softest of my prayers while with him.

The answers are all with God. If I believe, and do righteous deeds, and strive as I am striving and aspire to strive...there's nothing I should be afraid of, and I will not grieve.

And I didn't need to have Stevie on repeat to tell me that. None of us do.

(2:62) "VERILY, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians -all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds-shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve" (emphasis added).


  1. You have no idea just how poignant this post is for me right now!

    Jazak Allah al-khair!

    1. Salaams!

      I'm glad this was helpful! :) It's something we need to remind ourselves of frequently...