In certain situations, especially long term or difficult ones; we often establish a different pattern of behavior in order to manage our pain. This pattern of behavior becomes our coping mechanism, our armor, and the newly established familiar, or comfort zone.
In all cases, this is not a bad thing. A difficultly could cause extra prayers to become a habit, supplication to become frequent, and bad deeds to fall to the wayside.
However, it is all too common to adopt indulgent behaviors as a way to survive something challenging and to hold on to those activities long after the trial has ended. Endless gallons of ice cream, and ages of Facebook trolling are too often the antidote to the trials and tribulations of our time.
You might ask…so what? I’m not bar-hopping, club-hopping, or bed-hopping; I’m not doing anything wrong! Well of course there are worse habits to turn to in times of difficulty; but life is not about “getting through it” or “getting by”.
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Surat al-dhariyat 51:56)
Trials and tribulations are golden opportunities for the development and improvement of our souls. Are we taking advantage?
Too often, we use behavioral crutches as ways to “get through” our tough experiences instead of learning from them. By burying our heads in the sand and numbing ourselves through the pain, what can we really change? Is it truly beneficial to use non-productive behaviors to “coast” through a difficulty?
“For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah. Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron.” (Surat Ar-Ra`d 13:11)
When faced with difficulty, it is easy to ask, “Why me?” It is even easier still to keep your nose to the grindstone without looking up, but what are the rewards? Trials are a time for assessment, analysis, and above all submission to the will of Allah (Subhan wa Ta’ala). You can fight against your destiny all you want; but it is coming.
Every difficulty, every step you take, every breath was written. God has orchestrated your path for you and only you. It might not look the way you want it to, but it is irrevocably and irreversibly your own. Submit to it.
“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested.” (Surah Al-Ankabut 29: 2)
It is easy to think you are above your destiny and become attached to the very behavior that is keeping you in a problem’s way. By digging your heels in, your inflexibility has become your very captor. Sometimes we become so entangled in our own view of the future that we cannot see that our vision has become a roadblock. If you are trapped in a room only searching for a door to walk through; all the windows, air ducts, and gaping holes cease to become your escape routes. Allah will always provide a way out. It just might not be a way that is easy to swallow. If you choose not to accept that exit, then do not be surprised when your trial does not dissipate.
“Among the people there is one who worships Allah right on the edge. If good befalls him, he is content with it, but if a trial befalls him, he reverts to his former ways, losing both the dunya and the akhira. That is indeed sheer loss” (Surat Al-Hajj 22: 11)
We do not know what is best for us. Free yourself from a world in which you cannot accept your fate. Misery will always know your address if you cannot accept what Allah has planned for you.
So you thought you were “supposed to be doctor”, or “supposed to marry that girl”, or “supposed to get that job?
Get over it.
“Your Lord creates and chooses whatever He wills. The choice is not theirs. Glory be to Allah! He is exalted above anything they associate with Him!” (Surat Al-Qasas 28:68)
Allah has something better for you, if only you would open your eyes to receive His bounty. The proverb “Trust in God, but tie your camel.” is typically used to illustrate that God helps those that help themselves and to illustrate the aspect of choice within destiny. Yes, we do have choices to make and goals to work towards. We cannot simply ride the wave of destiny limp and lifeless. However, we cannot trust in God if we tie our poor camels so tightly they cannot move. Allow yourself to lean into hardship, let it envelop you and toss you around and spit you out. Let go of what you thought life was supposed to be and start trusting the path whittled by Al-Hadi (الهادي)