Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sister in Distress

I need your advice badly. For the past few weeks I have been trying to renew myself. You know the saying, new year a new me. Well, It was working out terrifically. Each week I set a goal and the following week I would accomplish it. It was amazing I lost weight, my clothes fit great, but just this past week a guy from my past had come back. We are only 16 and I would like my past to go away. I want to be a better muslimah and I want to be a better me because I hae the potential to be that person, but seeing the relationships in my family and how destructive they are, I dont want it and I keep going back to the same path. My goal this week was to become more religious. Alhamduallah I wear the hijab full time, but I would like to pray more and I also would like to be more strict on the hijab as well, but become more into it. I dont know what to do. I say your blog and I need advice. Please if you could help me, please do.

Sister in Distress

Nad says:

Dear Sister in Distress,

Congrats on working to achieve a new you in this new year. Don't be surprised that the progress you first experienced is starting to wane. That's part of the challenge of this mortal life. Only in paradise will things be perfect. Here on earth, shaitan (devil) works overtime to distract and derail us from our goals. So even though this guy from your past is an unwanted character, he’s right on time.

You said you keep going back to the same path. That’s usually what happens. It’s hard to change, because habits are comfortable. They feel good. To actually do things differently takes a plan and a lot of focus and determination. You know how the old you would handle this situation, but how would the new you handle it? How would the person you want to grow into deal with this guy? Think about the future you want and then do what you need to do to make it happen. If this guy isn’t part of that future, you know what you have to do.

If there are a lot of destructive relationships in your family, it will be even harder for you to change, because those are the types of relationships you’ve been around and are used it. That makes it even easier for you to fall into your old habits. I’m not saying this to discourage you, but to let you know what you’re up against. You have to know this if you want to succeed. Knowing how hard something will be lets you know how much preparation is needed.

Your goal to become more religious is a beautiful one, but it’s not something you can do in a week. Striving to be the person Allah wants is a lifelong journey. If you need to pray more, that’s the best place to start. Implementing regular prayer in your life is the best way to get closer to Allah. When you’re on top of your prayers, you’re more conscious of everything else (the things you say, do, wear and think). It can be overwhelming to think of all the things you need to do, and then try to do them all at once. Start with the one thing that is most important—prayer—and work on that.

Yes, it may sound too simplified, but getting regular prayer in your life works wonders. You have to schedule it into your life just like you do anything else that is important. Set your alarm for fajr (morning prayer). Get a prayer clock. (You can download free ones online.) Ask a friend to txt when prayer comes in. There are a lot of things you can do to make it a habit. After a while, it becomes natural. And you really do feel the difference.

After you’ve gotten that in place, move on from there. Just remember that no one is perfect. When you make a mistake, which you most certainly will, don’t get caught up on it. Pray that you learn from it and don’t repeat it. Then get back on that halal (lawful) hustle! Hope this helps.

Mina says: Sweetheart, I apologize for sounding so chipper as you experience this distress, but I have to admit--I'm very proud of you!
1) For sincerely DESIRING to elevate.
2) For being so clear and motivated on that path that you REACHED out for help.

The above steps ignite the formula to success--so long as you keep it up. Stay sincere, and reachout: to God, to right minded people (positive friends), and to the best information.

God and all things in creation will work to assist you. Nad is right--this guy coming back is a good testing ground and opportunity for you. It seems that since you've become adamant in your convictions, God is giving you an opportunity to solidify this new strength and fight the temptation into old ways, so that you can keep getting stronger.

In the Qur'an it says that only GOOD comes from God, anything else (negative) comes from our own selves. There are probably layers of meaning to this, but I take it to mean that any situation that may arise, no matter how distressing it looks and feels on the surface, is an opportunity for "good" and growth. If we dont see it and use it as such, then we wont get the benefits. If we do, we will, because it truly is that.

Please please be pateint with yourself. Remember God looks to your heart and intentions...and we are always reminded in The Qur'an that God is The Merciful Benefactor, The Merciful fact we have to begin every surah by saying this...this aspect of "Mercy" is the most stressed and repeated attributes of God. There are lessons and signs in that.

We are also told that we've been given faculties of "hearing and sight" to make use of.  In my opinion, this means that we've been given a mind and heart--and have the ability to think, reason, have insight--so we can use it regularly. We should be confident in these abilities!

Rely on your common sense, your intellect and what makes the BEST sense in a given moment. This will save you from doing things you regret. No matter how hard it feels--do what makes sense and know that you're creating the best results for your future.

To summarize:
1) Pray--it all starts with your sincerity and talking to/asking God directly.

2) Read quality, encouraging books. The Quran being the first. When I was your age, 16, is when I FIRST developed a personal relationship with this book for myself--it helped in tremendous, transformational ways--if you want to stay consistent with anything let it be prayer and this. God's words are comfort when there is none, you'll learn about yourself and life. And it will increase taqwa. Important: read whats EASY for you--even if its only a sentence. but think and reflect on that sentence.

Ask around for good book suggestions, about young women and renewal and finding themselves. I just found one on Amazon that sounds like a good one: Dont Give It Away! A Workbook of Self-Awareness and Self-Affirmations for Young Women by Iyanla Vanzant

3) Surround yourself with positive, practicing people! What we're around most of the time will influence and rub off on us--hang out with the sisters you aspire to be like (this is big and will be a tremendous HELP)...if you can't find them near you, find like-minds online (thank God for the internet.)

You're soooo doing exactly what you should by simply seeking, simply striving...stay connected sis!! God is with you.

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