Someone once defined tawakkul as a blind reliance or trust in God. I think ‘blind’ isn’t the right word to use to describe the concept of relying on our Lord. Tawakkul requires awareness, effort and hard work on our part before allowing God to move the pieces to where it’s meant to be. We are aware and conscious in our trusting and our hoping. To be blind is to be in the dark about where we are going, not knowing where our destination lies. To have tawakkul is to trust God’s plan; we know that our destination is the best for us as it is wherever Allah has decreed.
Every year, I am reminded over and over again on the importance of letting go and letting God. To do my best and leave the rest to Him. Every year, the test of tawakkul presents itself in different situations and in varying degrees. It’s as if Allah is telling me, every single year, at every step of the way… When my mom passed on, have tawakkul. When I struggled to find a job, have tawakkul. When I felt really lonely, have tawakkul. When plans were disrupted due to a pandemic, have tawakkul. When I was battling death in the operation theatre this year… have tawakkul.
Surely, Allah loves those who place their trust in Him.Surah Ali-Imran, 3:159
This year, I became a mother. I’d given birth to a person, and I’d given birth to a new me. I suppose, just like grieving after losing someone you love through death, motherhood is a place where only those who have crossed the line and entered into its world, would truly understand how it feels like. I think it’s the biggest internal seismic shift a woman would ever experience in her life. It is life-altering. The tears, the fears, the guilt, the worry, the shock, the challenges, the struggles, the sleepless nights, the pain, the love, the joy… oh the joy.
It has been almost 8 months of this entirely new chapter. Occasionally, I do miss certain parts of my pre-motherhood life. I’d been so desperate to go back to the old me that I’d gone out for my routined morning jog just two weeks after I had given birth. My husband allowed me to go for my me-time while he held the fort. While jogging, I’d felt a sharp pain in my womb. I stopped and told myself, “You’re still healing. Take your time.” Perhaps it’s a lesson for the impatient and stubborn child in me. I decided to stick to my doctor’s advice and returned to my morning run later in the year.
7 months on, I put on my running shoes and jogged slowly till I reached the running track at the neighbourhood park. Once there, I sped up and ran, feeling the wind in my hijab and a certain runner’s high that I’d sorely miss. For a moment, I could hear the old me laughing again. My heart felt full. I was childlike and free. “I’m healing. With time, I’ll heal.” I took a moment to thank my Lord, al-Jabbar, the Restorer. The One who healed my wound; now a smiling cut from a c-sect operation which had rendered me powerless for the first few months, yet still finding the strength to push myself to care for a physically demanding baby. Sometimes I look back and wonder, “How did I manage to do that? How was that possible?” I never would have imagined going through such an ordeal alone. The answer’s clear. I was never alone. He was with me. And He’d granted loved ones in my life whom I can run to if I needed any help.
This year was a year of mental and physical healing. And I learned to take my time to heal. My patience was tested to new heights. I unlearned plenty of old habits. Motherhood had stripped me down to my most vulnerable core and I was forced to face my demons. I learned to ask for help; something the old me would have found so hard to do because she grew up learning that to ask for help was to be a burden to someone else. Motherhood had also changed the dynamics of the relationship between me and my husband; it was uncomfortable at first, but we had to face all of the discomfort to change ourselves and each other for the better.
I aim to walk into 2023 with a changed outlook on vulnerability and carrying it on my shoulders as a form of power instead of a weakness. In one of the books I am reading currently, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, she mentioned how vulnerability is not a weakness; instead, it is a strength that we need to embrace.
“Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences. Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path. To put our art, our writing, our photography, our ideas out into he word with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation – that’s also vulnerability. To let ourselves sink into the joyful moments of our lives even though we know that they are fleeting, even though the world tells u s no to be too happy lest we invite disaster – that’s an intense form of vulnerability.”Brent Brown, Daring Greatly
Dear old and new me, let’s run into the new year with our vulnerable selves, armed with tawakkul and optimism to live our best lives. The tests will always be present, but remember that they are only given to purify us to a state where He will be pleased with us. And remember, don’t rush yourself to heal. Take all the time you need. In Wintering, Katherine May shares her wisdom on winter: “Life meanders like a path through the woods. We have seasons when we flourish, and seasons when the leaves fall from us, revealing our bare bones. Given time, they grow again.” May we learn to embrace ourselves in all seasons and be patient in its transitions. May we love ourselves in our own journeys and progressions. & may we always keep the end goal in mind. Ameen.
I am running into a new year
and the old years blow back
that I catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises and
it will be hard to let go
of what I said to myself
when I was sixteen and
twenty-six and thirty-six
but I am running into a new year
and I beg what I love and
I leave to forgive me.Lucille Clifton, I am Running into a New Year