Life’s challenges were never so clear to me as they are now. Perhaps there is something about spending more time in this world, becoming more aware of everything around you and figuring out where you stand and what it is that you are really pursuing.
Roughly fourteen years ago I became a man’s wife. I was suddenly expected to be a caring, intelligent partner and with time, a parent. A mother who was meant to know how everything was done and who was someone to look up to. On a personal level I was going through myriad challenges. I was young, raw and not exactly angry but unpleasantly surprised with life and with the people around me. I had no idea how to be this wonderful partner and much less – how on earth – to be a mother, a somewhat okay mother. Fourteen years later the ignorance is still very much there, but for so long, somehow – and only God knows how – I stand as someone who this far seems to be doing alright. At any rate I haven’t killed anyone and I haven’t killed myself either. 🙂
If I were to talk about some of the more important lessons I hope to have learnt by now, the first of them would be that Allah swt lives on. He doesn’t die, He doesn’t even feel sleepy or tired, He doesn’t get sick, He doesn’t move to another country and He’s the One and Only Protective Friend and Guardian who doesn’t spill your secrets and doesn’t let you down. Calling upon Him is never expensive and private conversations can go on forever. Parents’ – the people you love and count on eventually fall sick, fade away and move on from this world. Friends can let you down and people can break you – both in distance as well as in nearness. But Allah swt, the All-Seer, the All-Knower, the One who doesn’t judge You because of how wealthy you might be or how perfect your body looks, listens to you every single time, understands you and calms you down. He is the Only One who has stood by me through the good and the challenging times, the One worthy of absolute love and trust, the One Who washes and enlightens my heart every time it darkens and then allows me to hope some more for an even better tomorrow.
The next thing that’s started making sense is that there isn’t any real satisfaction, success or peace, or indeed lasting victory in getting laurels from the world. Sure, it’s a wonderful ‘I’m-floating-on-air’ kind of feeling when you see your name in print – but then once that’s over – then what? All creative people (writers, artists, poets etc) know that you are only as good as your last article/book/piece. Lasting peace and happiness comes from realizing that it is indeed Allah swt, His obedience and His remembrance that strengthens the heart, actualizes the soul’s existence and pours forth a shining bright light on the path ahead, illuminating the correct way in a maze of bewildering and overwhelming directions. Peace and happiness increases manifold when you perceive those around you with love, compassion and totally clean-slate forgiveness.
At a very deep level, marriage, first, for me, was about acceptance, as are so many things in life. Your partner might be an excellent person, and a righteous individual but if the two of you can’t stand each other there isn’t much in the relationship except random moments of passion that might exist. People fall in and out of love all the time but acceptance, I feel, is the more important one. There has to come a time when you stop blaming and shaming yourself, your partner or your parents or life and simply accept things and give thanks for whatever good is already manifest and for whatever khayr the Almighty has in store for you. A little bit of gratitude goes a very long way. Things begin to change. Acceptance gradually transforms into gratefulness. Giving thanks gives way to love. And love begets mercy and compassion, which finally transports you to a form of communication higher than love.
When no words are necessary between the two of you and when a gentle touch, a short but meaningful text or a tender back rub might mean so much more than just that. When you start caring about the other person and you’re not entirely sure why or when it started happening but you now understand the importance of their presence in your life and wouldn’t want it any other way. Understanding means being unselfish and letting the other person have their time and space if they need it.
One of the most essential ingredients of a good relationship is humility and ensuring that your ego doesn’t destroy you, both when you are right and more importantly when you are the one who you erred. One must question oneself all the time and make small but conscious efforts every single day to water the family tree.
My husband is a great man. He really is. And I don’t say that just because he’s put up with me for all these years – although that in and of itself has got to be pretty remarkable. He’s a strong man with insides of steel because he takes all the personality assassination I do of him, digests it, takes whatever benefit he can from my ruthless analysis, discards the rest and then forgives me wholeheartedly. He then renews his vow to stay by my side forever. Yes, I know. I’m incredibly blessed. Alhamdulillah.
As for me, I’ve always found it a bit hard to totally forgive and forget, barring now when I’m finally learning that there’s absolutely nothing cool about being permanently hurt and there’s this incredible feeling of liberation and happiness when you just – let go. Intelligent people move on and embrace each day as an opportunity to receive and radiate all things good and positive.
My husband’s also a really creative guy. He can create power from a bunch of tired looking wires and solar panels and he can probably fix everything from broken glasses to a broken fridge – not impeccably, mind you, but good enough to get you by for a bit. He also loves breaking things apart and enjoys discovering how they work and how and when they don’t. I’m happy to say that he’s now learning to curb this same desire with the wife!
I’d like to sign off with a final piece of advice to myself and anyone else who might care for it. Always notice the little things. If she folds your laundry and puts it away remember to say thank you and mean it. If he clears the sink while you get your assignment done a smile and an “OMG what would I do without you” doesn’t hurt at all. Be respectful and don’t say things you wouldn’t say to a friend. Lastly remember Allah put you in their life for a reason and them in yours for an equally powerful one. Set time aside for just the two of you and remember that the joy, the happiness of the moments today require much thankfulness and acknowledgement. And for when things aren’t so hunky-dory, it pays to be patient and knowing that it too, shall pass. And we’re all going to return to Allah anyway. 🙂