Occasionally, I look back on random posts I have written over the past year and ask myself how much I have healed since my divorce. Why, after five years, have I not completely buried the past and moved on? Why do I sometimes rant about the past when I know deep within that I am living my best life now, Alhamdulillah? The truth is, that being a mere mortal, my overall progress is still sometimes punctuated by a state of numbness to life where my mind is temporarily whisked back to the past. Fortunately, those lapses occur less often nowadays. With the gap growing in time between the past and present, I have had increasing opportunities to re-evaluate my life. I realise that everything that has happened in it is meaningful, not meaningless. Even the events that didn’t turn out quite as I had wanted, were not a loss per se.
You see, life itself is one huge constant spiritual experience which transcends the material dimension. It is not simply an existential experience. Each and every encounter we have with other people, the comforts we enjoy in this world and the plethora of experiences we have along the way, all collectively work to inform the spiritual workings of our being. How we process those human and non-human interactions also determine our relationship with Allah Himself. And this is why all of it is meaningful. Nothing that happens to us is left to chance. In His own subtle and mysterious way, Allah is directing us to Him and yet it is upto us to decide if we accept this invitation or not.
To arrive at this understanding takes a long time and even as I write here, I know I haven’t completely suffocated the dying embers of anger and frustration that still linger after my divorce. After all, so many more terrible things could have happened and so far I have been spared of them, Alhamdulillah. But, it’s true that the consequences of such a drastic change in one’s life reverberate long after the incident itself has passed. And this is what I am still going through since my marriage ended. Some people take longer than others to regain their footing on the threshold of their future – I guess I am one of them. I also know I need to stop comparing myself to others who have not cast a second glance behind them and managed to move forward. I can’t pretend to have been so strong and resolute but I know I am moving in the right direction, inshaAllah.
I understand that life is a series of tests, some bigger than others. Even a day which may seem uneventful and routine, brings with it little challenges; questions such as, “Should I delay my salat (prayers) and finish watching something less important on Youtube?” or “Should I refrain from being part of an idle conversation and find something more wholesome to do instead?” I believe that all these seemingly trivial incidents, and how they are handled, determine the final outcome for the believer on the other side of this life. And none of these encounters and happenings are accidents. They are, in fact, the perfect design of Allah. On our path to Him, some of these things exist as small pebbles, some are big stones and others are just colossal boulders over which we need to climb and exert all the energy we have to pass them. Of course, in reality, the boulders are often humungous life-changing events such as divorce, long-term illnesses or the death of a loved one. I pray that I will never come across a boulder and look at it and think it is insurmountable. If I am true to my faith, that word (insurmountable) should not even figure in my head. This is the ultimate lesson I have been learning recently.
Each life is so unique and the set of circumstances people face are so particular to themselves but those lessons can be shared easily. So, even through my early days of post-divorce where I was consumed with anger and frustration, I know I had to go through those motions to exorcise the negativity within. Through a great deal of confusion, I gradually trained myself to think positive, to carry the best parts of my past existence and move forward with them. I may be divorced but I don’t have to be totally divorced from the positive elements of my past. I still celebrate the happiness that I enjoyed back then. What I have to purge myself of is the pain, that’s all. I honestly have given up trying to understand the inner irrational workings of people’s minds. Rather, it is a far better investment if I stay focussed on the cards I have been dealt with now and use them on the journey trying to get even closer towards Allah.