When you’re starting out on your own again after divorce, it’s almost impossible not to call on the help of others. There’s no shame in doing that. Be it money, food or someone to talk to, all these collective forms of help are our lifeline of hope in those dark days when we are still so overwhelmed with our own grief.
When I first emerged from the detritus of my marriage, I was fortunate enough to have had family and friends support me emotionally, financially and spiritually, Alhamdulillah. I will never be able to repay their efforts although I continue to pray that Allah compensates them with things far better than I could ever offer. Yet, this is where the complexity lies too: whilst accepting help is nothing to be ashamed of, allowing it to extend into a long-term dependency is something to be concerned about. We need to know our limits.
If I have learnt anything in the last few years, it is this – that Allah is Ar-Razzaq, the Provider. Sure, He places people and opportunities in our midst but they are only the medium through which our provisions are attained. They are not the sources of any goodness itself. It is Allah who provides those people with the means to help in the first place. The origin of everything we have is ultimately our Creator, Allah. I know I have reiterated this point many times before but I make no apology for that. It really can’t be overstated.
Today though, I want to elaborate on the importance of not being too reliant on others. Moreso, I want to make the distinction between the Provider and His agents.
There is a definite danger in depending on any one person for anything. For sure, there will come a time when they disappoint, not because they are unable to help on one occasion or two, but because the dependency on them feeds into their ego. It is human nature that people applaud themselves when they feel they have benefitted a fellow human being in some way. What they fail to see, however, is that being the person available at that time was simply incidental. If it wasn’t them, there would have been someone else to fulfil that role. As it is, they simply happened to be there at the right time. However, they may mistakenly place themselves on a pedestal and credit themselves for providing (especially) material comfort for those in need. It is their actions alone that bring relief to others. This is an absolute fallacy.
In my own experience, I have witnessed a small number of people lavish praise upon themselves for being there to help me. Often, self-adulation happens retrospectively but always entitles them to feel good about themselves. On some occasions, they have even felt they have earned the right to know intimate details of my current personal situation – as if helping me gives them privy to this. At these such times I realised that this co-dependency had to be severed. I would not allow myself to be enslaved to their favours. I would not allow my life to be put on public display without having any control.
As I mentioned at the start, there is no shame in asking for help. However, being in the pocket of somebody else as a result of them abusing their kindness, is not a good place to be. There is also another sinister problem which may arise. It is that deep in one’s own psyche, turning to others might be a way to avoid confronting your own fears about moving on with life. Handing the responsibility of the daily grind to another human should only ever be seen as a temporary measure whilst you are dealing with the emotional struggle within. At some point, as cruel or unjust as life may seem, it is so important to take back control again and recompose ourselves. Easier said than done, I know. Yet, an unhealthy dependency on others is a questionable relationship. Inevitably, a hierarchy will set in and it goes without saying which end of that hierarchy you may find yourself in if you are the one piecing your life back together. It happens in marriages between spouses and it also definitely occurs between friends and even family. Alhamdulillah, I have slowly begun to recognise that scenario before I blindly walk in.
I am reminded of a famous hadith, a prophetic saying, in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) advised Muslims to tie their camel in the desert. This analogy refers to taking precautions in any given situation and to not be completely careless. It speaks of a simple but beautiful equilibrium. Whilst we always trust in Allah to take care of our affairs, we must also take some responsibility for our actions. Looking deeper, we can see that tying our camel is tantamount to recognising that our reliance upon Allah. At the same time, we will learn a sense of independence and humility. It is about our capabilities vs. our limits. It is about rationale vs. faith.
Whilst I am forever grateful to those who stepped forward and helped me when I needed it most, I also know I had to eventually liberate myself from being tied to any individual. I didn’t want to be stuck in a state of deference to them. It’s true those individuals never demanded it from me but I know it was somehow implied. I made the same mistake in my marriage and I am determined not to fall for it again.
To associate rizq (fortune), solely with human effort is a mistake I will try to consciously avoid at all times. I can’t even claim that any good that comes my way is due to my own efforts alone. This notion extends to others as well. I know people cannot take anything that was written for me nor provide anything which was not. To be honest, that fact alone has given me so many reasons to feel bold to hold my own. I can defend my position and principles in the face of opposition since I know nobody pays for my bread and butter. I have learnt to stand my ground, Alhamdulillah.
Freedom is fantastically priceless.