I've been discussing at length the importance of acceptance, surrender and trust, and how these attributes can affect your everyday life.
But today insha'Allah I'd like to go deeper into this subject. I'd like to explore what it would look like if your whole life revolved around acceptance, surrender, and trust. What is the ultimate goal in all of this? What would life be like to live in such a way?
I also discussed this in much greater detail at Saturday night's webinar. If you were unable to register, you can purchase that recording here.
The Three Steps to Spiritual Connection and Fulfillment
- Acceptance: Making peace with your current situation
- Surrender: Realizing you have no guarantee of your desires coming to pass
- Trust: Acknowledging that God is benevolent, and that God always wants the best for you
After these three elements are in place, it is much easier, and more effective, to move towards your desires and goals, not to mention that you will be far happier in your everyday life, and you will begin to see God working in small and big things alike.
For instance, if one of your desires is to find a job, the process might look like this:
First, you come to peace with where you are. Either you are unemployed, or you are perhaps in a job that you dislike or feel unfulfilled in. It's very possible to come to resent your current situation, even to hate it. It's even possible to blame yourself for where you are right now. But what good will it do? You will still be here, until and unless you change it.
So acceptance is the very first step to begin not only moving towards your goal of finding a new job that fulfills you, but also just in feeling content right now. Why torture yourself with the knowledge that you aren't where you'd like to be? All of us have goals that perhaps we haven't achieved yet, but that's no reason to deny yourself contentment in this moment.
As a quick aside, I'm going to differentiate between contentment and real soul-level happiness. Contentment is something we can choose at any time, if we quit focusing on things that we allow to make us unhappy or dissatisfied. In other words, contentment is a free will choice you can make right here in this moment.
On the other hand, happiness, as I am using it here, is something that only God can give you, and that you can only achieve under the right conditions. What are those conditions? I'll be discussing that soon insha'Allah. But I want to simply point out here for now that happiness is solely dependent on God. Of course all things depend on God, but you can be temporarily content in the moment without experiencing lasting happiness.
Second, you surrender control of the process. All you can do is to look for a job, and to apply to any that seem good. And indeed, you should do all those things. But after you've done what you can do, there's nothing else to be done. You must surrender the outcome, and not worry about it. You must admit and come to peace with the fact that you may or may not get this job. It is out of your hands.
But now step three is where things get interesting, and which I would like to delve into more today insha'Allah. The third step is to trust.
The Importance of Trust
First, trust in what? That's for you to figure out. Obviously I'll say trust in God.
I mentioned during the webinar that this is the only step that can't be reached with logic. Even an atheist can realize the importance of acceptance, because it's really the only way to start from a place of peace. He can even understand surrender, because it is a fact that your desire might not come to pass. In fact it is delusional to think there is no chance of failure. It is better to come to terms with the possibility of it not working out how you want it to.
But, an atheist will not be able to realize that trust is an essential element of this process. Trust is where spirituality enters into the mix. It's where we begin to realize that we're not alone in life.
I've told this story several times before, but it bears repeating. Last year when I believed that the LOA was a mechanical process that brought you whatever you were putting out there, once I really began getting results, I started to feel like it was more than that. I started to feel like I was personally being blessed by Something greater than myself. Of course for me at the time it was a ridiculous idea, and I ignored it, but that feeling kept coming back.
So, my point is that I can't show you why it's important to trust. All you can do is to look at your own life experience. Try trusting in small matters first, and see whether you don't feel like things just work out for you. Even look back through your past experiences, and see how you can observe everything coming together almost like a cosmic puzzle, which can't be seen until after the fact.
Once you start to see this, you'll understand what I mean. Is it just a universal law that is responding to your emotions, or is it something more? Is it just a “force”, or an all-powerful Being? Is it a mechanical process, or the love and blessings of the Creator?
That's not a question I can answer for you, but only you can discover it for yourself. And, in my opinion, trust is the way to open that door.
Do Your Part
Coming back to the example of applying for a job, I already mentioned above that you must do your part. You must apply for jobs, go to interviews, etc.
Why is this? Isn't this relying on your own strength? Not at all. God has given us means by which we can accomplish things in life. We must use whatever God gave us. The success of those means is entirely up to Him, but we must do our part. That's why I call this a co-creation, because you are neither doing everything by yourself, believing you have the power to affect change; nor are you sitting back and expecting God to bring everything to you. Sometimes it is a difficult balance to strike.
There's a great hadith that illustrates this point perfectly:
One day the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu 'alaihi wa-salam) noticed a 'bedouin' (desert Arab) leaving his camel without tying it and he asked the 'bedouin': "Why don't you tie down your camel?" The 'bedouin' answered, "I put my trust in Allah." The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa-salam) then said, "Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah"
Related by At-Tirmidhi.
To put it in modern terms, it's kind of like not locking your car and saying you trust in God to protect your belongings. God expects you to use the means at your disposal to do what you can, and then leave the rest to God. In other words, lock your car, then trust God.
As I alluded to earlier, it requires seeing God work personally in your life to really begin to grow that trust. I see it as like a relationship. When you first make a friend, perhaps at first it's hard to trust them entirely. You are careful with what you share with them, because you don't know how reliable they are. If they do something nice for you, you might not know exactly what their motivation is.
But as the friendship grows, you get to learn who they are as a person. You learn that they are incredibly generous, kind, and trustworthy. You open up to them more. You share more about yourself. You know that they would never hurt you.
However, to get to that point took time and experience, and so it is with God. It takes you opening up a little bit, and seeing how God responds. Then it is your responsibility to realize that He did, in fact, respond, and not chalk it up to coincidence.
Ever since I've begun trusting in God more, things have just started working out for me. Earlier this month there were a few bills I didn't know how would be covered. However, I realized that God will always meet my needs, especially when I trust in Him, and so I did. And alhamdulillah, everything worked out better than I could have possibly asked for or even imagined.
Can you jump from barely knowing God, to total 100% trust and openness within a day? I think it is highly unlikely. But, you can get there one step at a time. You need to get to know who God is, as it were.
Can you think of something you are a bit worried about? Something that's neither too small nor too big. When you think of this thing, likely your thoughts will revolve around whether it will work out, how things will go, etc.
I want you to decide that you will trust in God for this one thing in your life. You will just choose to stop worrying about it, and give it up to God to take care of. Admit to yourself that you really have no control, anyway. Realize that things have worked out for you in the past, without you really having to do anything. The proof is already there.
Now, every time you think of it, remind yourself that it is in God's hands. You are giving it up. Do this as many times as it takes to really let it go.
And now, just see how it goes. I will guess that insha'Allah, things will work out just fine. Write it down in a journal if you want to, both once you choose to trust in God for this concern, and once the situation is resolved, to see how it went. Then you'll have real, written proof in front of you that God has worked in your life.
This will be the foundation for developing your trust in God. As new worries pop up, keep doing the same thing, and see what happens. You'll soon realize insha'Allah that the more you trust, the more things work out. This has been my precise experience.
A Life of Trust
So you've begun to trust more and more in God. This is wonderful! But what will life begin to look like as you trust more and more?
There's another hadith this brings to mind, which I'd like to quote before getting into more detail.
Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu 'alaihi wa-salam) said,
“Allah, the Almighty said, ‘Whoever has mutual animosity with a friend (wali) of Mine, I declare war upon him. My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the religious duties that I have imposed upon him; and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I would love him. And when I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks. Were he to ask of Me, I would surely give him; and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant it to him.”
(Recorded by Al-Bukhari in Kitab Ar-Raqai’iq (Book on Heart Softeners), hadith no. 6502.)
This shows a glimpse of the life of one who trusts and obeys God. What does God call such a person? He calls such a person “a friend of mine”.
And what does God do for His friends?
- If someone hurts you or hates you, God will “declare war” on them.
- Anything you ask will be given.
- If you need refuge, it will be given to you.
- And best of all, He will love you, which surely means much more than anything else.
Whom does He love? Those who make God “his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks.” That is, those who make God a part of every thought, word, and action in life.
Let's see a verse from the Quran that expresses the same sentiment:
Behold! verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve; Those who believe and (constantly) guard against evil;- For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present and in the Hereafter; no change can there be in the words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme felicity. (Surah Yunus, 10:62-64)
Here we see much the same: a friend of God is one who (1) believes, and (2) constantly guards against evil. And for such a person, there is “no fear” nor grief, and it is said that on them is “glad tidings” both here and in the hereafter.
This is really the end, or the ultimate goal, of trust. God is the one who can provide all things, but only if you trust, and put God above all else. What does it mean to put God above all else? It means you don't rely on people, experiences, or things to make you happy. You know that only God can make you happy. It means that you aren't afraid, because you trust that God will provide. At the same time, it means you aren't afraid to ask for what you need, or even what you want, because you know that as a friend of God, what you ask for, if you believe, God will answer your prayer. In Islam we say God is Al-Mujib, The Responder to Prayer.
Speaking of happiness, I mentioned earlier that contentment and happiness are different. Contentment is a choice to not focus on what makes you feel bad. Happiness is a state gifted to you by God. By trusting in God in all things, you will truly be happy, because there is no room for fear in one who trusts God.
I know this is a lot. I went pretty far in this post, and there are some who are close to this and some who are just beginning this journey. I'm not telling you to make your life like this today. This is a process. However, look around you and see whether your desires have made you any happier than before. Perhaps more content, perhaps a bit more secure, but is there true happiness? Most of the clients I see are those who are unhappy, or even depressed, despite the good things they have in life. And there's only one thing that can transform a “good” life to a happy life: trust in God.
But start from the beginning. Accept yourself where you are right now. Then work on surrendering and letting go of control over everything. Finally, begin to open up to trust. I'm not asking you to accept this just because I'm saying it, but see how things change once you open to trust just a little bit. It's still a process for me, and one that I often fail at. But, all the same, things have gotten much better since I've learned that lesson, alhamdulillah.
Image Copyright: phloxii / 123RF Stock Photo
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