27. Strength in Adversity

Things have been pretty hectic for the past few days, that I barely had time to really process what had happened at the psychiatric assessment session. For a description of what happened then, click here.

On the basic level, it got me to think about the impact of accidents and its demands on you. Something so unexpected could easily change your life. It might have a physical, emotional or mental impact that might impair you for the rest of your lives. What happens next?

I think it is much easier to accept physical impairments, for example, a broken leg or loss of your limbs for example, because it is something that is clear, concrete and tangible. You can see it and learn to accept it. But what about something that is not as tangible? How are you able to know for sure that you are no longer able to remember things that you see? That you are not able to control your emotions and impulsive behaviours anymore? That you are no longer able to make decisions? How are you going to adapt to it? Think about all the confusion and self-doubt that a person begins to feel. It can get a little bit too much right?

How about if you’re the relative or friend of the person who is facing all these? How do you react? How do you behave with compassion towards the difficulties that the person is facing while at the same time, help that be self-sufficient and confident again?

In H’s case, he was facing a lot of denial. He kept denying that there was anything wrong with him. Yet, through the different tests and also statements made by his family and friends, it was clear that there is something different about him. He also knows that there’s something wrong with him but he can’t really grasp it. He is less sociable, has very low self-esteem and is constantly questioning about the accident.

I guess at this juncture, when faced with so much confusion and doubts, one needs to look inside and pull out the strength and faith from within. It is a matter of taking things in your stride and believing that everything is happening of a reason. Sure, it is not easy to stay strong in the face of adversity, I’m not saying that it is, and we tend to fall into an abyss of despair, of thinking “Why me?”, of going down the path of self-destruction. It is always easier to blame others, to blame fate, and to even blame God, for putting you into suffering.

You see, blaming others allows you to throw away the responsibility to take charge of your own life.

It’s his fault that I’m like this. I wouldn’t be in so much pain if this hadn’t happened. They don’t understand what I’m going through.

But here’s the newsflash, you are your own captain. You decide how you react to situations. And for me, what really helps is when you believe that He knows that you are perfectly capable of handling all the problems thrown in your path. That is His promise:

“Allah does not obligate anyone beyond his capacity.” [al-Baqarah:286]

So if placed into a difficult situation, for example, an accident that causes you to lose some of your abilities, or even a challenging time at work or school, it takes a great inner strength from you to accept it gracefully and continue living at your best. Mulling over something and going around with self-pity is not going to help you solve your problems. Blaming others and taking it with a poor attitude will just be a bad reflection of the person that you are. Face it with composure and faith. What’s important is you face it.

And on the other hand, if you know of someone who is facing difficulties, who is at a low point in life, not knowing where and how to move forward, take it as a civic responsibility as a Muslim, and even as a human being, to help them through it. Help them by being compassionate, by being constructive and most of all, by reminding them that they have the strength within. If anyone is ever going to get themselves out of a rut permanently, it is through their own self-belief. We cannot be their solution, but we can be their guiding hand, and their pillar of support. I know it can get frustrating when someone refuses to pick themselves up but be patient and continue to be there for them. Think about if it were you that was in their shoes before you give up trying.

It is always good to remember His promise. And it is always a blessing to continuously be reminded of it. Who would have thought that a simple translation assignment could have led to me ponder so much. I’ll end off here with one of my favourite ayahs from the Quran that is so apt to this topic. May it be beneficial for all of us.

“Allah does not want to place you in difficulty but He wants to purify you and to complete His favour on you that you may be thankful.” [al-Maidah:6]

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