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Painful as Life could Be, Faith can always Sail you through

Have faith; God has better things for you in store

            As human beings, we experience a wide variety of feelings, both positive and negative. When we experience positive feelings, we feel like the whole world is ours, like someone has poured a flood of energy and enthusiasm into our veins, like we’re flying without wings. Negative feelings, as you’d expect, have the exact opposite effects, and the cruelest among negative feelings is grief.

            No one could ever imagine what grief is like unless they’ve experienced it firsthand. Grief is an excruciatingly painful feeling that is closely related to the idea of loss. It is a feeling that eats up your heart and soul, that makes rising from bed as tiring as climbing the highest rocky mountain in the world, that makes dealing with people the hardest thing in the world, that makes your body so vulnerable and hence so welcoming and embracing of various illnesses, that makes going to work a torture, that makes hearing someone talking enough to make you feel like you want to scream, that makes you feel the world is stamping on your face with all its might, that makes you feel imprisoned in a pitch dark narrow hole unable to leave it despite how inviting the light outside is, that makes collapsing and falling into a coma to escape the whole world and have an excuse to stop doing your regular tasks and taking care of your responsibilities seem like an unattainable wish, that makes death so romantic that you’d embrace it with happiness and warmth.

            Sounds exaggerated? No words could even start to tell what it feels like when you lose all your dreams at one shot, all your dreams that you’ve had for years and years before you see them shattered before your very eyes only a few months after you thought life was finally going to smile upon you.

            I’m a believer; I’ve always been one. Over the past few weeks, I thought I was finally able to understand why my prophet always prayed to God to protect him from sadness. In addition to destroying your body and crushing your soul, sadness is Satan’s golden opportunity to ruin your faith in God: Is this the God you believe in? You think He loves you as He claims? Would He torture you this way if He really loves you, you fool? And you keep praying, huh? You insignificant idiot! He just doesn’t give a damn about you. He hates you, so pray as much as you wish.

            Such ideas were starting to take grip of me and seep into my soul. I felt like I was lost, drowning slowly into a deep well of depression. I decided to take some time to gather my thoughts or rather to regain my ability to think. I started by respecting my grief, by allowing myself to collapse and grieve and cry and whine, and for that I needed complete seclusion. Except for going to work, I wouldn’t talk to a soul or even answer the phone.

            That period of cocooning helped me a great deal. Extensive thinking guided me to cling to my faith, to follow the path of God who promised in His holy book to be by the side and answer the prayers of those who would seek refuge in Him. After some time that I spent thinking about the issue, I discovered that it’s one of the very few times God didn’t answer my prayer. I prayed to him to grant me my dream job, and He did. I prayed to Him to help me with my studies, and He did. I prayed to Him to grant me a certain work opportunity in another country, and I faced so many challenges that would’ve normally prevented me from travelling, and guess what? He did. I had all those thoughts, and I decided to seek refuge in Him like I always did. I would pray to Him and cry. I would wake up in the dead of the night to pray to Him, asking Him through my tears to grant me strength, patience and serenity and to grant me something better than the dream I lost and with which I felt I lost my entire life. I would read the Quran, and I can remember the serenity that filled my heart when I came across the verse which reads: “it may happen that you will hate a thing which is better for you; and it may happen that you will love a thing which is worse for you; God knows, and you know not” (Arberry’s translation). I believe in heavenly messages, and this was one which I thought came at the right time.

            I spent almost three weeks in my chosen solitude. Though full recovery does need time, I’m now starting to cope and take a few steps out of my cocoon. I felt like getting close to God was key in helping me to start to accept that I still have to live for a few more days, months or years. The very idea of the existence of a supreme power in which we can have faith, which we can depend on, which we can resort to for solace is a soothing idea. We’ve been taught that God is the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate, but in a moment of devastation, I decided to look for proofs of that, and many I could find. Despite losing the most important dream of my life, I discovered that I have so many things now which once were dreams and so many more which are dreams for others.

            I don’t think I would’ve been able to accept living once more without having faith in God. It’s true that beside faith there were other things that helped: my godmother who would call and text from the other side of the planet to soothe and advise, my friends who would forcefully stand by my side and take me out for a change, my music classes which do help me shut down my mind and dive into a sea of melodies, my work which would provide a compulsory distraction. However, faith in God is what actually helped me stand on my feet. It’s very calming to think that He is there, that He sees and listens, that He has more beautiful things for you than the things you’ve lost. Therefore, faith helps us accept the idea of loss, painful as it might be. I still remember hearing Oprah Winfrey once saying that God has better plans for us than the ones we have for ourselves. Indeed, “God knows, and you know not.”

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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