Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Miracle Will Break the Fall

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This past week was an amazing one for me. It was a week where I felt cradled by the divine love of Allah; where I felt Him reaching out to me when I felt helpless and unsure of what would happen.

It all started Sunday night.  I was taking my husband and our son back to his motel room where he lives away from us through the week.  En route, the battery and brake lights came on.  This was the first time it had ever happened in the 6 years I’ve owned the car, and neither my husband nor I knew what it meant.  The car was driving normally and we didn’t smell anything funny, nor was it overheating. We continued to his motel.

After dropping them off I started back home. On the way, the battery and brake lights stopped illuminating. I thought maybe it was just a fluke, as the drive back home was uneventful.

However, on the way to work Monday morning, the battery and brake lights came back on.  I figured it was something I needed to look into, since it had now happened twice. While I was at work researching this, I discovered that in my type of car a failing alternator will cause those two indicators to light up.  I knew what a failed alternator meant, and I knew that since I was running strictly on battery power the car would probably not run more than for another day or two. I figured I would stop by the grocery store on the way home to get food, since there was a good chance we wouldn’t have a way to make it to the store later in the week.

So I swung by the house and picked up my friend whose been staying with me.  We continued on to the store, and did our shopping.  When we came back out, we loaded our bags into the car and got in. I turned the key…but it didn’t start.  Great! The battery was dead already, even though I figured I still had a good 24 hours of drive time left in it since the problem had just started the night before.

My friend asked a pair of African men who had just come out of the store to help me jump the car so we could get home (thank Allah I carry jumper cables!).  They were kind enough to help us out and bring the car back to life. I disconnected the cables and jumped back in the car, as the Africans were pulling out of the parking lot. I put the car in reverse to leave….and it stalled.

Unbelievable! Now what?  We would have to find someone else to help jump the car…again.  Fortunately the lady who was actually parked right in front of me came out of the store and offered to help.  I explained to her what was going on, and that the car would probably need several minutes of charging once it starts in order to make the drive home. She said that would be fine.

So again, the cables are connected, duas are made, and the car starts.  We ladies made small talk for about 10 minutes while we waited for the battery to charge up a little.  I figured enough time had passed, so I disconnected the cables and went around to my door to get in and drive home.  By the time I got that far, I realized the car was silent.  It stalled again as soon as the cables were taken off.

I realized now that even with a jump, the charge was not going to hold at all and we would not be able to use the car to get home. I explained this to my friend who had come with me.  The lady who tried to help us jump the car asked if there was anything she could do to help.  I asked her if she could ride us and our groceries back home, since we only lived a mile down the road.  Alhamdullilah, she was nice enough to do so. I made sure I took everything of value out of the car and locked it before leaving it there in the Kroger parking lot.

I was exhausted mentally by the time I got home and unpacked our food.  My two oldest boys, who were already at home, had already eaten. I was glad for that because it was one less thing to worry about.  As it was, I had to figure out how I would be getting to work the rest of the week, how I was going to get the car out of the Kroger parking lot, and how I was going to afford to repair it.  Not only that, but I had in my possession the check for my husband’s weekly motel fees sent by my mother in law, and I needed to figure out a way to put it in the bank so he could pay for the room.  The payment was already due, so if he couldn’t pay it right away he would be kicked out…and that would leave him and our 6 year old together out on the street.

My friend suggested we try asking a neighbor to take me to a train station to get a bus card, so I could take the bus to work.  I didn’t really have any money for a bus card as it was, but my friend was nice enough to offer to help with that detail. So she and I set out going door to door, floor to floor, trying to find someone who would be kind enough to help me.  We literally knocked on every door in my building, and either no one was home or they couldn’t help us.

My friend and I stood in the parking lot, realizing that now it is going on 10 PM.  We needed a plan, or I would not be able to work tomorrow.  A neighbor then came out to the parking lot, and having some familiarity with who she was I asked if she could help, and she agreed.  She drove my friend and I to the closest MARTA train station and I got a bus card to cover the next four days.  She was also nice enough to drive me by the Bank of America ATM machine so I could deposit my husband’s check.  He was able to pay for his room with no problem after that, Masha’Allah. We got home at about 11 PM.

By this time, I was exhausted by all the events that had taken place. I couldn’t have more of a reaction than amusement of all that had transpired, so I posted a tongue-in-cheek blurp about it on Facebook before settling to bed.  I guess everything that had happened affected me on a subconscious level, because that night I had some very tumultuous dreams.  Subhanallah, those dreams were very telling and encouraging, despite how emotional they were.

I dreamt that I had made arrangements with my manager to work from home the rest of the week, since I would not have transportation to the office.  In the dream, however, I didn’t seem to be getting any work done even in light of that.  My manager and his boss came over to my house to see what was going on, at which point I explained to them what had happened with my car. I told them that I was fearful that the Kroger would have the car towed and impounded, which would only make matters worse.  The men had compassion on me, and offered to take me up there to check on the car and make arrangements to have it taken to a repair shop.

As the dream continued and we arrived at the Kroger, we discovered my car was gone. I feared that we were too late and it had been towed. I went in to ask the store manager where it might’ve been taken, and he informed me that they never had the car removed. He added that there had been a rash of vehicle break-ins overnight, and my car was presumably stolen.

To me, this was even worse. It was bad enough I had a repair that I couldn’t afford, but now I would need to find a way to replace the entire car.  I broke down and became very emotional, even though my manager and his boss were still standing by.  I felt so helpless and overwhelmed, and the boss took pity on me.  He told me that he was getting some extra money on his paycheck for this Friday (6/22), and offered to give it to me to help replace my car instead of using it for his own hobbies.  He told me that he was giving me $5,000. At this point, I became totally humbled at his generosity and graciousness. I felt silly for getting worked up.  I began crying in the dream, so thankful that he had offered a solution to what I thought was an unsolvable problem. At that point, the three of us were leaving to go get dinner somewhere, and I awoke.

I didn’t think much of this dream when I woke up Tuesday morning. I knew there were a lot of details that needed attention, and I was going to have to maintain my energy levels to take public transportation going forward.  As I was getting ready for work, I located an auto shop right across the street from the Kroger my car was stuck at. I called them and asked if they had a tow truck to come get the car, but they did not. They offered me some tow truck company referrals, and I told them the car was only across the street from them.  They said if I could get the car keys to them, they would take a fresh battery over to the car and simply drive it back to the shop.  So I got on the bus and headed to them, and on the way I called Kroger to make sure they knew my car was there and make sure they wouldn’t have it towed anywhere.

Once I knew my car was going to be in good hands, and that I would be still able to get to work, I started to relax a little more as I caught the bus toward my job.  I knew I still had to solve the problem of the cost of the repair, but since I didn’t yet know what that was I wasn’t sure what I would need to do about it. So, I let my mind wander as the bus carried me to work.

Out of the blue, a sister (who I wouldn’t have known as such by appearances, as she was uncovered) came and sat next to me and gave me salaams.  I greeted her back, and she spontaneously asked me, “have you read this book?” as she was pulling a small paperback out of her purse entitled Tears and Tributes. I told her I was unfamiliar with it, and she went on to explain that it was about Imam Hussein and the battle ofKarbala.  As she was telling me about it, I immediately recognized that it was probably published by shi’ites.  I continued to listen to her as she told me, “every time I go through a hard time, I pull out this book and read it. I’ve probably read it about twenty times by now!  I just started reading it again because I was going through something hard in the past few days, and I just find the stories to be so encouraging and uplifting to my faith….especially the accounts of sister (can’t remember the name), who kept praying all her prayers no matter how bad the battle got”.  I was fascinated with this, not because I thought I would agree with the shia viewpoint the book had been written from, but because I felt like Allah was saying to me that there are still things out here to encourage me no matter what I go through, and it has been so for all Muslims through all time.

I was especially touched by what she said about the sister making all her prayers, because for the first time in my Muslim life, I made all my prayers for the month of Rajab.  I never before made all my salats for any month of my Islamic life.  I felt very happy that I accomplished this, even making up the ones I might’ve missed while I worked on this goal.  So to me, it was like Allah was saying He knows the effort I put into that and it was not lost or forgotten.  It made me want to continue making all my prayers on time, and making up any missed ones right away.

As I began to contemplate all that the sister had shared with me while she stepped off the bus, I felt my phone buzz. I looked at it and saw that someone had sent me a message on Facebook.  I checked to see what it was, and I saw that a very, very dear friend was asking me if I had a paypal account. I dreaded to think of the reason why he was asking, but I knew it was because he had seen my post from the night before about my car.  I questioned him about it as I arrived at work, hoping he would change his mind about anything he was devising.

Later on in the day, I got a call from the repair shop that the cost would be about $365.  My jaw had dropped. I was due to get paid on Friday 6/22, but since it was my last check of the month I would be using the majority of it for rent. After my necessary bills, only about $100 would remain.  I knew that the repair wouldn’t be that low, but I was hoping it would at least be less than $200 so I could possibly scrape up or borrow what I didn’t have to cover it.  I figured the best I would be able to do is forgo paying my rent, and use my rent money to cover the car.  Then, once it was back in working order, I would take it to the local title pawn place and get a loan to pay my rent…and pay back the loan over time.  I didn’t see any other choice, since there was not even a slim chance that my ex would come through on any of the $2000 in child support he owes me.

I resigned myself to this course of action as I continued to work the rest of Tuesday, all of Wednesday, and most of Thursday. Thursday afternoon, not long before I was going to be leaving to go home, everything started to change.  I started getting emails notifying me of payments made to me via paypal. My friend, the one who had pestered me on Tuesday, had invited some other friends to help me out with him. As their gifts continued to come through the evening, my eyes bugged out!  The gifts were adding up to almost the total cost of the car repair! This morning another one came through, which ended up completing the full balance (except for 61 negligible cents!) MASHA’ALLAH!!!! Allah made it so I didn’t have to pay for any part of the repair, except for what amounted to spare change.

This morning I woke early and took the bus to the repair shop and picked up my car. Once the paypal funds are transferred into my bank account, I will pay my rent.  I won’t need to pawn the car title, Alhamdullilah.

It’s things like these that make tests worth going through. It’s seeing Allah move like this that makes me want to see Him even more clearly as often as I can.  It’s moments like these that make me cry tears of appreciation for the friends who surround me, friends who are closer to me and kinder to me than some of my own family.  They are indeed the best Muslims I have ever met, and I will be thanking Allah for them and asking Allah to also show them the mercy and grace He’s shown me, for the rest of their lives.  It’s gems like these that make me bow in sajdah to Allah, humbled beyond what I can express, and grateful beyond what I can repay Him.

This is the Peace

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My last couple of posts were borne out of my pain, so they were not very hopeful or positive.  Most of last week I continued in despair until everything changed (again, lol).  At a point, I felt like the fall had stopped, but I was not yet on the ground…or at least not at a place where there was a final outcome.

And I think that’s what I may have been mixing up. I thought that resolution and peace came with a final outcome, whatever that was.  I came to a resolution, I found peace, but nothing circumstantially has changed. How did it happen?

One morning I was driving to work, listening to my playlist of Maher Zain songs.  “Paradise” came on, and as I listed to the lyrics I realized that everything I’m going through in this life, both the things that I hate to endure and the things I seek to cherish, are not the main point. Nothing in this life is the focus, but everything in the next life is.  I began to think about it, and it became clear that everything I’m wanting right now: to be with my husband without any constraints, to have a home we can all share without worries, to raise a daughter….all of those can be found in the hereafter. Paradise is the only place I can build a dream that will last, that will not be taken away.  Paradise is where I can be united with my daughter, and be forever with her and my husband (insha’Allah) in a home that will never be anything but ours for eternity. Paradise is where I need to invest my time and energy, not into the shaky and unreliable events in this dunya.

I felt hope again. I felt motivated to keep trying, and to keep my focus on what really matters. I renewed my commitment to maintain and increase my ibadah. I decided to look at things here as only a temporary setback to the final, neverending goal. That’s what we were created for, after all. We are eternal beings, for an eternal realm.  We were never made for any of this stuff here on planet earth, except to be tested so that we can return to a realm more glorious than this one can ever be.

Things aren’t always easy, because there is still pain in being parted from someone I love.  There is still a need for me to try everything I can to keep my family as I know it together, and I have a plan I’m following toward that end.  If the plan works, alhamdullilah. If it doesn’t, there’s always the next life.  If I can keep my priorities in order, I am destined to find what I yearn for one way or the other insha’Allah.

This peace is a sustenance whether I am falling or not. It’s not a solution to the problem, but a partner in the experience.  It is what is holding my hand as I fall, as I land, as I rise and start walking again on the ground. It will be there no matter what happens, if I don’t forget it….even if I have to fall again someday.

Falling at Fajr

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It seems like all day, maybe even all weekend, I have been carrying around a feeling of dread.  It feels like in some realm a line was crossed, and things which may have been reversible up to that point are now fixed.  I fasted my 10 days for Rajab, concluding Saturday night. At maghrib I made salat and then made dua, pouring out my fears and desires to Allah.  I had so many things to say, and particular things to ask, and I laid it all before Him.  Since then, I have been feeling guilty, and I don’t even know why.  Do I feel bad for wanting anything at all, because it betrays a certain lack of sabr?  Do I feel guilty for wanting something that might be bad for me, even though I do the best I can to use wisdom to discern what I want and need? Do I feel guilty for asking Allah for ease, because it means I can’t handle His tests?

This morning I woke up just after 3 AM, feeling horrible.  I was dreaming about my husband’s relationship with his shaykh, which currently seems to be in a questionable standing. I guess what has been going on has been making him rethink his beliefs and spiritual course, which is understandable.  Even though he is coming to conclusions (in some ways) that I had already established, I am troubled at how far a departure this is from the person I’ve known him to be.  I already was feeling like life as I have known it was shifting in ways I couldn’t keep up with, now I have to adjust to my husband going though an intangible metamorphosis.  Maybe that was the final piece that dropped my heart into despair?

I feel like things are not going to work out….at least not in the direction I would prefer them to.  I had two pictures in my mind of the outcome for my husband’s situation: him leaving and I being left on my own to redefine my future; or him staying because we were able to get a house and move on in some semblence of normalcy (even if it meant him being on probation). Now it seems the option that is being leaned toward is him starting the probation now, without a proper home, without security that his mother will continue to finance his living arrangements if he is unable to find a means to do so on his own, without a reasonable assurance that will we be able to get a place of our own.  Of all the possibilities I’ve been sifting through since his arrest and trying to plan around, this was not one of them. I feel very upended about this, and with the fact that we were not given very good vibes about being financed for a home this past Friday I feel like my heart is stuck in a tar pit. I can’t say that my dream the other night about my job helped that in any way.

Hope lives by being able to create a picture of a future we can believe in, and anchoring ourselves to it during difficult times. I have to admit, I did have a lot of futuristic panoramas to hope in. Being the planner-girl I am, I thought I made sure that every possible outcome had an “after” I could invest in, to keep my spirits buoyant through all this.  With what’s shaping up, I find I didn’t have a scene for this one.  I know time will pass and outcomes will be revealed, and I will move through this to the next phase inevitably. However, I feel like I’m travelling that path hopelessly, because I had not put together a back-up plan for what’s actually taking place.

I’ve already prayed fajr, and I have to work later today.  Tomorrow is the pivotal day, and I expect my husband will continue to deliberate between his options until he has to actually go in and declare a position.  His choice will affect me, whatever it is.  I am not even really sure if I am ready to handle any of the choices he might make, so long had I hoped this day wouldn’t actually come. Even during my dua Saturday night I asked that all this be made to disappear.

I even feel guilty for wanting a generous rescue.  I feel guilty for being frightened when something can’t be changed.  In some ways, the way I am feeling now, the terrifying dreadfulness and ache of regret, is almost exactly the way I felt when I lost my daughter. No matter how much I wish and wish something would alter the events that have already passed through time, I am faced with the conclusion that nothing is going to change back to what it was.  Nothing is going to look the same as it did before, and the only option before me is to try to find a meaningful place in my new reality. Either that, or get stuck in my attachment to memories of the past and live a life of counter-productive fixation. That’s really not my style, though.

I know this is a rambling sort of post, but I need to do it for my own sake because I’m just not ready to lay back down and try to go to sleep with all this heaviness inside my soul.  I remember when I was a child, I had one of those books that come with a 45 speed record (actually I had several of them). The one I am thinking of in particular was Disney’s The Black Hole. I remember in the story how the captain and his crew were basically trying to deal with the inevitability that they were being sucked into this black hole, which they feared would take their lives.  They were not sure what was going to happen or if they would survive.  As they got closer and closer, it became harder and harder to believe they might be able to escape it (although they had been trying all along).  In the end, they passed through the black hole, and made it to the other side safely.  They were in a totally unfamiliar realm, and they realized it was going to be very challenging for them to move forward and continue to survive, because for all they knew they were the only living creatures in this new universe. However, they were thankful to still be alive, and hoped they could make a way forward somehow.

I feel like that now. I feel like the black hole was something I had been falling toward, but hoped I might be able to escape somehow.  Now it really feels like escape is a non-option.  I don’t know if I’m going to survive this transition (emotionally, mentally), but I have no choice but to try.  Even in my best attempts of trying, I have no idea what it will look like until it happens. It feels like trying to drive while blind, and yet hoping I get to my correct destination safely.  It seems like even if that were to happen, the route there will be perilous either way.

I’m still not ready to go to bed. I still feel sick inside. I know staying awake will only sabotage my ability to concentrate at work later today, but I don’t know what else to do. I was hoping writing about my state would draw out the infirmity, like it has so many other times.  I guess this is one of those instances where there is more emotional poison inside than I have words to expel it with. If I could cry I would, but my feelings are more along the lines of “horrified” than depressed.

Ya Allah, I praise you and may blessings surround Prophet Muhammad SAWS.  I already feel like I ask You for too much, and can’t repay all that You have already given. I feel ashamed to even ask for one more breath.  But you are giving me breaths, you are giving me hours and days and a future as You like.  Ya Allah, please give me some glimpse of the beauty in my future, so I can cling to it and survive what’s present.  Please show me a bit of what awaits me on the other side of this test, so  I can continue to be brave and patient and fighting with all my strength; so I can find enough motivation to not give up when it feels like giving up is the only option left. Amin.

I Tumble For Ya

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Once upon a time, when I was about 6 or 7 years old, this song was my all-time favorite.  It had a happy and carefree feel to it, and every time my family took me to the local pizza parlor I would play it in the jukebox over and over.  Eventually, the song stopped getting featured in the jukebox, and I had to face a rude awakening in realizing that songs only stayed popular for a limited time before they were replaced with new creative offerings.

I am trying to have a good morning, but it’s very difficult. I am a very vivid dreamer, and often the tone of my dreams will color the following day.  This morning I dreamt that a coworker of mine had been promoted to “senior life coach”.  I didn’t mind that I had not been promoted with her, but what hurt was her bragging about her accomplishment to me, and pointing out all the flaws in my work or habits that excluded me from consideration for being promoted with her.  I became emotional and started to try to put her in her place, all the while giving examples of areas where she and other coworkers have a looser work ethic than mine.  All this took place as we were sitting in the backseat of a schoolbus.  To my embarrassment, I realized that my manager was sitting on the bus as well, several seats ahead of us.  He had overheard the entire exchange and began to come back to where we were to smooth the situation over.  Initially he tried to be very understanding, and said he didn’t think it was fair to me that she was rubbing her honor in my face. He said he wanted to talk to me about what was going on and how he could help make things better for me and my work performance, but he couldn’t see me for a meeting for another week. I was dissappointed about this, and became exasperated that we couldn’t meet sooner now that all my emotions were brought to the forefront.  However, I had no choice but to accept the offer.

The scene changed and I was still with the promoted coworker, and things were still strained.  For some reason, I lost it and started having a very public emotional breakdown, and the manager was again present. Instead of being patient, he yelled at me to stop my behavior, and ended up terminating me due to my lack of self control.  When I awoke, I took the dream as a caution to be careful not to let my personal life influence my professional one, just in case.

At any rate, I’m still feeling defeated.  I am disappointed in myself that my ibadah is lackluster in the past few days, though I have been trying really hard to keep it consistent.  I am feeling hopeless about getting a house, because our NACA counselor told us yesterday not to have high hopes for approval since there were periodic instances where my bank account balance dipped into the negative (though it was brought current the following days), even though no overdraft fees were merited.  Nevermind the fact that I am paying an exorbanant amount for rent, and have never had an eviction nor late payment. I know I could afford a mortgage, because I’ve been sustaining a rental expense twice that for years.  I also feel sad that I have to be here at my place alone, though married. I feel like a single mom most of the time.  My husband’s arraignment is in 3 days…just another blip on the horizon I wish could be avoided. All in all, everything going on has me feeling like I’m not only falling, but tumbling as I go.  It’s neither happy nor carefree.

What I fear the most is that all of these circumstances will get to me, and I will have a meltdown akin to the one I dreamt about last night.  That I will unexpectedly lose it at the worst time and in an inappropriate place, and the consequences of it will only push me further down the cliff.  I don’t know what my limits are, nor do I know when I am approaching my “point of no return” emotionally.  The pressures are indiscriminate and I am just caught in a mix that has more to do with the choices of others than myself.  But I know I do have my own choices, my choices of how to respond.  Although I may not feel strong enough to respond with a different feeling about what is going on, I can choose my actions.  The one thing that’s staying me right now is the fact that if I really feel like I am being pushed too far, and being asked too much, and being advised to make unreasonable sacrifices, I can choose to say no. I can choose to say, “enough is enough”. I can decide to do what’s best for  me and my children, and be at peace that I chose the course of response and not someone else, or some circumstance thrown upon me.

I’m going to try again to make all my salat today. I am going to work a little at cleaning up this house and look all around me for encouragements from Allah.  He does send them, in all times and usually when most needed.  I know, despite how everything looks, that everything that happens is for my best, so long as I look for the opportunities to remain in submission to Him through these circumstances.  Every hardship will raise me, if I can make sure I don’t let it defeat and corrupt me.  No matter what,  I still have people whom I love, who love me too, and will support me through whatever comes.  Shukrulillah for these eases that abide by this trial. May Allah sustain those I love, may He provide for their every need and give them blessing in this life and the next.