Sometimes our plans are just not good enough. Allah has something better.
By Gilla Barre
New Delhi, India
We all have ambitions and dreams in life. From when we are very young, we begin to lay out some major life plans – the college I want to join, which degree to enroll in, the company I want to work for … what not!
But what do we do when these goals aren’t met? When these plans are not achieved at the specified time we have set for ourselves?
As an overtly-ambitious person, I cannot tell you how much not having the life I planned for made me miserable for years.
I loved school, loved learning and my teachers were always happy with me. I thought I had it all figured out — I was sure I’d go to a top-grade university, graduate with honours and get hired by the best companies. Then I would travel the world, help people and finally settle down. Little did I know what life had in store for me …
I found myself in the middle of a million storms and I did not know what to do. I had to abandon the very thing that gave me my identity — studying. I wanted to change the world and my own came crashing down before me. I had a million plans to change the world, but Allah’s plans were different. However, accepting this reality was hard. I slowly began to think there’s something terribly wrong with me, as if it was all my fault. That destroyed my self-esteem. I plunged myself in self-doubt and gave up on ever doing something meaningful with my life. Any attempts I would make to fix things would end in a even bigger disappointment. I hated rejection and I let these self-defeating thoughts make me believe that I’m worthless and that there’s no point hurting myself again and again. I just settled … settled for the mediocre life that I had and accepted as it is.
After several odd jobs,I landed a job at an NGO for displaced women and children. Hearing their heart-wrenching stories, the struggles they have been through from war, abuse and torture made me realise that, although they had been through things far worse than I, they still kept hope of having a better life, a better future. I had much more than them, but I was so negative about things that I forgot how incredibly blessed I was. Their resilience and courage rubbed off on me and I learned to look beyond myself and realised how much helping others made me happier. I always thought money and fame would make me happy, but hearing their stories changed me, my thinking, my priorities and my ambition in life.
Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) reported: Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
“Look at those who are inferior to you and do not look at those who are superior to you, for this will keep you from belittling Allah’s Favour to you.”
(Riyad as-Salihin 1/467)
This is the wording in Sahih Muslim. The narration in Al-Bukhari is: Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “When one of you looks at someone who is superior to him in property and appearance, he should look at someone who is inferior to him”. (1)
I slowly began practicing my deen better, thanks to these experiences, and found contentment and peace. Life was tough but I’m glad. Not for the terrible experiences, but the lessons I Iearned from them. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is indeed great. If it wasn’t for Allah and these precious lessons, I wouldn’t be half the person I’m today.
Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) says in the Qur’an:
مَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَٰكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful
Through the difficulties in life we often forget the fundamental truth that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is the best of planners. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) intends good for us and helps us come closer to Him through these experiences. What we need to do is understand the wisdom behind these tests instead of being negative and making ourselves miserable.
And remember,whatever happened isn’t your fault. We tend to blame ourselves for our circumstances and that is what holds us back from moving forward.
Embrace the experiences and use them as a stepping stone to growth. Learn from the failure,
brainstorm, improvise, see where you went wrong, fix it, repeat.
Do not think whatever happened had nothing to do with your self worth. Every setback is a step forward. Learn to move on and don’t let that one mistake or tragedy hold you back. It took Edison’s 1,000 attempts to create a light bulb.
And if you cannot change something, may be it wasn’t meant to be changed. May be it was meant to be a lesson. Try to find it. I did and, in the lesson, I found my purpose, I found myself.
When everything around you seems dim, turn to Him and trust His ability to turn things around. Trust His plan for you.
- Book 1, Hadith 467