By Maram Behairy
We will all encounter some area of life that will bring us to our knees. For some, it will be health. For others it will be a relationship. Maybe finances or an unfulfilling career. Something will be harder for you. Something will bring Tears. Heartache. Sleepless nights. And while we like to think that life is what happens around this one problem area or in spite of this one problem area, the reality is that these “make you bleed” moments are on-the-job training for the life we yearn to live.
When nothing hurts, we humans tend to coast. We change only if the pain of not changing is unbearable. The pain of changing has to be less than the pain of staying the same. And those areas of our lives that put pressure on us, they change us. Those difficult experiences strengthen our weaker bits and soften our tougher bits. We walk, or maybe crawl, through the dark storm blind and confused. We try desperately to fix it with our existing tools acquired from a lifetime of experiences. Some try to outrun it. Others freeze and panic. Some frantically seek help. But. Nothing. Works.
The only way out is through. And the only way through is to surrender. To surrender does not mean to give up. Giving up is that moment when you are tired and beat down on the ground. It is that moment when you say, “I can’t do this anymore.” It feels like death.
I wonder though if giving up isn’t just a pitstop on the way to complete surrender. I can’t help but remember that moment when our beloved Maryam (AS) wished she was dead and forgotten.
فَأَجَاءَهَا الْمَخَاضُ إِلَىٰ جِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ قَالَتْ يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَٰذَا وَكُنْتُ نَسْيًا مَنْسِيًّا
The labor-pains came upon her, by the trunk of a palm-tree. She said, “I wish I had died before this, and been completely forgotten.” (Quran 19:23)
The very human moment when we face our weakest selves. That moment where we know we have no control. That moment when it all feels too hard and too heavy and too painful. That’s the moment when everything changes. That’s the moment when we have a choice to surrender, to accept we are completely and utterly powerless, to give it all to Allah SWT, to be a “Muslim.”
Surrender means you trust in Allah SWT. This challenge is happening for you not to you. Allah SWT wants you to have the life you dream of, that’s why you dream of it. Your pain is a guide from Allah SWT, steering you towards what is good. Surrender may look like stillness, but with an openness to what is to come. There is hope in surrender—the winter before spring, the deepest darkness before dawn.
After that moment of utter despair, life was born and Allah SWT sent Maryam (AS) reassuring words, nourishment from the stream and dates, and guidance to remain in silent solitude.
Is this our blueprint through the darkest moments of our lives? Difficulty and pain squeeze us and mold us until we feel utterly broken. Then, in our brokenness, we have a choice to surrender to Allah SWT. To decide to hand the burden over and relinquish our false sense of control. Then Allah SWT will provide reassurance and nourishment in our silent solitude. Finally, we will regain our strength and come out of the darkness in our new form.
About the Author:
Maram Behairy is a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction and heads the writers’ group of South Florida Muslim Federation
‘I like to understand the bigger picture, deeper reasons, and nuanced connections. I have always been more interested in the roots under the ground than the fruit above. I complicate and explore in order to find the simple, deep truths. I live those with conviction. My dream is to use my gift for words to inspire and guide others to live with purpose and greater ease. So as I experiment on myself, I will share what I learn along the way. My roles in life (by default my areas of exploration) include being a Muslim, woman, wife, mother, writer, and youth mentor.’
Have a question for the author or want to reach her? Email her at email@example.com.