…on powerlessness

Do you ever have those days where you feel like you’re doing everything wrong? When things can’t seem to go right despite doing your best?

Did you miss a deadline? Were you occupied when someone really needed your help? Did you get flamed where and when you were least expecting it? Maybe all of those things?

When I get those feelings- especially a day like today, I think of these series of ayahs from Surat Al-Imran (26-27).

When I find myself “flunking” my way through my day, I’m reminded that the source of honor, of prestige, of strength, of knowledge and wisdom is not my own training, my own doings, or my practice- but rather, are from the Source – Al Malik, Al Aziz, Al Alim, Al Hakim. And to know that these “fails” have occurred with the permission of His hands, in which all goodness lies, in the context of this world, a ruhm (womb) of Al Rahman (the Most Merciful) makes those falls more gentle.

Sometimes we need those reminders (and they hurt) that we are not #1, that we do make mistakes, and that we have to make mistakes in order to learn, grow and change. And in those moments of deficiency, we should turn to the Source of Sufficiency to heal those parts of us.

And on the flip-side, we also need to know that these states and stations are temporary. If dry, crusty, dusty fields can become lush once more with rain and some fertilizer- than why can’t we? That provision, those skills, the keys can be given to us limitlessness- if we seek from the Source and put forth our best efforts.

Something that I really appreciate about Islam is the fact that there is duality in concepts, but also the same underlying themes. The visual I’m thinking of in my head for these ayah’s is a teeter-totter or balance scale of sorts- honor on one side and humility on the other, with a gentle, floating ribbon underneath connecting both sides, symbolizing mercy.

If you bottom-ed out on either side and stopped to reflect, there would be a gentle ribbon of mercy to graze you on that fall and give you context to what’s happening in the current moment. That ribbon could give you sweetness and healing, and help you to better balance out your scale. The ribbon, that boundary, would be your reminder that it’s always there for you, and that balance is key.

But imagine if you bottomed out- and you just stayed there: reveling in the honor, or wallowing away in your humility. If you weren’t conscious or reflective, you might strain that ribbon. The tension you placed may cause it to snap onto you, or worse, be pulled away from you because of that lack of reflection. – God forbid.

I’m thinking these ayahs will become my daily affirmations in my third year of medical school- being the least experienced person on the wards and getting screamed at by attendings… We’ll see… teehee. I pray to always have that ribbon beneath me and around me and to be mindful enough to feel its gentle caress, Ameen.

Wa Salaam,

Nichola ~

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