This is Day 21 of the 2018 #30Days30Writers Ramadan series.
Sometimes I find myself missing the ways I used to love and know God as a child. Things were simple back then; I was innocent, young and so acutely aware of Allah that I felt it in my bones. Other times, I find myself banking on grace and goodness to come down the road, and happiness and confidence to saunter in along with them.
In middle school, I thought high school would summon the woman inside me; in high school I waited patiently for university to arrive. And now I am here, unwilling to allow myself to be fooled a third time by my own strange expectations.
I do that often. I suppose I’m not the only one. We find ourselves waiting on the next chapter of our lives to begin living them. We try to promise ourselves a different future or instead pass our days lamenting about the past. I make plans upon plans upon plans. My best friend calls them timelines. You map out things the way you want them to be and plot happiness somewhere down the chart, after the first job and the husband and kids and the house in the neighborhood you love.
Happiness begins there. Or you promise yourself it anyway.
My mother told my sisters and I at the beginning of the month, that if we end Ramadan with only 30 days of hunger and thirst, then that is what will be recorded for us. You have to find ways to make it more than that, a personal spiritual boot camp that is all your own. Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Live in the present. You must work on yourself now to become the person you want to be tomorrow. I realized that I believed and implemented that in my academic self, physical self and emotional self. But somehow, I had left spiritual growth to chance alone.
So, this Ramadan has been the beginning of my own soul-ly-waste-not-want-not lifestyle. I will not allow myself to put off or postpone or hope for the kind of spiritual growth and integrity I need and want for some made-up milestone down the road. There is nothing wrong with prioritizing my soul now and working hard at shaping myself into the person I want to be. Indeed, that is the only way I can get to where I’m headed.I am the only one who can change me and grow me. And, I cannot afford to wait for a future I am not promised.
I have tried my best to be good now, to work on myself today that I may have the future I think about and make dua for. I have decided to focus myself on becoming the woman I want to be instead of hoping and praying that extra milestones will shape me on their own. A job will not make me good and children will not make me patient. Graduating will not make me intelligent, or disciplined or confident. I must construct these things for myself.
My own spiritual self-esteem cannot be tied around the back of a dream, dangling from what ifs and wishful thinking. The future almost never works out to human plan, and thank God for that! What would the world be without Divine Wisdom and Decree?
And so yes, I have a lot of work to do, but I know that my own spiritual health is an imperative component to my personal happiness, contentment and growth as an individual. I will be a better daughter, sister, friend, employee, student and community member when I am growing myself.
There is nothing wrong with closing my eyes and imagining the woman I want to be. But I need to then look reality back in the eye and decide what steps I am going to take today to work towards making her a reality.
So here I am, the 21st day of Ramadan, and I am not yet pristine and perfect. But that wasn’t the goal. I had to give that up too. I cannot keep chasing after some feeling, or emotion or validation from God to begin to do what I need to do. I must begin by looking inside at my own vices and virtues and strengthen what needs to be strengthened, work on overcoming what is left to overcome.
I am praying to God to make this journey of growth, knowing Him, and learning to love Him the most beautiful journey of my life. I certainly hope it lasts a lifetime. No one is ever too old or too good or too noble to continue to push.
I don’t have a neat and tidy way to go about growing myself into something beautiful, but I suppose I ought to shed ideas of neat and tidy and opt for goodness and honesty instead.