When I realized that my OCPD had not even left my spirituality untainted, I decided to talk to someone, only this time it would not be a therapist. Ironically, I went to see this nice lady who’s a religious scholar that talks to non-Arabic-speaking individuals who are interested in learning about Islam. I had connected her to a friend before. So whereas a couple of years ago, I was a go-between for someone interested in learning about Islam, I was now that someone.
As I was sitting on her cosy couch in her very warm and welcoming guest room, I was perplexed as to where I would start. How would I arrange my questions? What would be the first thing out of my mouth? What would I focus on and what would I leave out? How much of me should I reveal? The only decision I could make was to try very hard to keep my tears out of the way.
She: Okay. Now I am all ears. You said on the phone you had some things you wanted to talk about. I am all ears.
Me: . . . . (Notepad and pen in hand, looking at my long list of questions, my eyes well up, against my will and my best efforts. I hide my face in my palm and look down.)
She: What’s the matter? Come on. Let it out.
Me: I don’t understand. I need help. Something is wrong . . . .
I started on my saga of woes and misery and how I was no longer able to take one more step in this mean life. I related how everything was backward and varied as the circumstances and stories may be, the end result was invariable: I was hurt. Then, in the midst of my trembling, it hit me: I was the one meant to meet this woman from the very beginning, not my friend. I was the one meant to learn from this woman, not my friend.
She: You know, Allah said to Prophet Dawud, “If those who stay away from Me knew how much I love them and long for their return, they would be torn by (die of) longing for me. If this is My Desire towards those who turn away from Me, how much do you think My Desire is towards those who turn to Me?”
Me: . . . .
She: I bet you’ve never heard this one before.
Me: Actually, I haven’t.
Then, the next day, I heard the same saying from a completely different source!! A sign?
I really needed to stop and think about this. I mean I was coming from a place of sin. Is this how He is towards me, the sinner, the misguided soul who is not on His Path? He is waiting for me to knock on the door so He can grant forgiveness? Really? He is that Kind? I thought He would be Angry, Divine Anger. I thought I was being punished and expected more punishment to come. (That’s what I speak: right and wrong = reward/safety and punishment/danger).
As I thought about it, I realized how distant I really was, spiritually, emotionally. I mean I do the rituals. But my soul has not been filled with Him. I haven’t seen Him as the Designer, the Causer, the Creator, the King, the Kind, the One.
I confess. I have been doing the rituals and trying to get closer, not knowing where I was falling short, not understanding that my thinking (yes, my clever mind) and calculating had clogged my heart and ability to feel. Most of all, I relied only on myself, my calculations and my ability. When things didn’t work out, I didn’t stop to think about His calculations; maybe He has something else in mind. When things did work out, I didn’t stop to say “Thank you for your support. Thank you for filling in my deficiencies.” I didn’t think of Him before as my supporter, my friend. I never thought of Him in terms of love, friendliness and kindness. I only sought to follow the rules and avoid punishment. I never really stopped to think how many times I had put Him at the bottom of my list of priorities, yet He did not stop His giving and He patiently waited. Most unfortunately, I didn’t really set His satisfaction as my ultimate goal.
I say “Alhamdulillah” but I don’t really live it. I never really stopped and tried to consciously count the blessings I have on a given day, even a bad day – not that I ever would be able to. I read the Quran, His words to me, but I rarely stop to contemplate on what He is saying to me.
I dare not say that I have arrived or that I am doing all this now. Far, far from it. But at least, I am aware that there are different glasses to see Him through and I am trying find my new pair of glasses and keep them on, forever, insha’Allah, with His support.