Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey and what keeps me going while being in pursuit of my goals. The journey up until now has been a such seemingly arduous task, and I honestly wouldn’t know how to pursuit it if I wasn’t rooted in something spiritually. While my religious belief is something that is more specific, my overall faith in a higher power is more general and what I utilize as my means to keep going. I don’t usually talk about my faith because in all honesty people love to go back and forth about the “right” religion, and that’s just never a conversation I’ve been interested in having or care about. I realized a while back that my faith is more for me and not to perform and prove to other people (of the same faith or not), and once I got comfortable with that aspect of it and I no longer felt the need to have the same kind of conversations that agitated me before. But going on this journey towards self discovery and pursuing goals, reinforcing my faith has been such a major part of continuing on and I feel that no matter what you believe in, your denomination, or your spiritual path, your individual faith in whatever it is you believe can reinforce your faith in yourself knowing you’re an extension of a higher power. So this week’s tip, while a little bit more abstract in concept, but still powerful beyond measure in terms of bolstering self worth and awareness, is Faith.
As many may know from my mentioning, I am a Muslim. I speak about it as freely as I want to or when I feel like it, but it’s never been the first point of conversation for me because I know how people can be when it comes to religious preferences. From a young age, I hated answering people’s questions about my faith. At that time, I can honestly say I didn’t know enough to answer a lot of people’s seemingly invasive and backhanded inquiries about Islam which turned me off to a lot conversation surrounding faith in general. For me personally, I just knew Islam was what I grew up with, it was the head of my household and that was it for me, but until I had my own adversities, I don’t think I knew what faith truly was and how it related back to my religious belief. In a sense, I had a religion, but I don’t think I ever understood what faith was or how to believe for myself. While faith and religion are connected, they’re not always mutually exclusive to one another.
Faith is typically defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. While I believed in God, I’ll admit I never had complete trust in Him or myself, I just didn’t know how. As I got older and experienced more things on my own, I started to develop an understanding of faith that made the concept easier for me to grasp. I realized I’d been aimlessly following my religion alone, almost going through the motions without ever actively building my faith. Islam had turned into something I just knew of and was chosen for me, and it made me extremely uncomfortable. While I often claimed it, I felt like an imposter who couldn’t live up to guidelines laid out in the Qu’ran, which turned into another reason why I chose not to engage in conversations about religion. My parents were so steadfast about their faith, and while they tried not to place any specific pressure on me, the example they set in regards to it just made me feel inadequate about my own. I often tried to adopt their journey to faith as my own, because I didn’t feel like I had one. I didn’t realize until I was well into my first year at grad school that I had to build my faith for myself. I finally took the pressure off myself when I realized that it was only for me.
With the revelation came new understanding, but I still struggled BIG TIME. I struggled all throughout my life with trust and I always felt this immense need to control everything, and when I couldn’t fix or control things it ruined me. I couldn’t just allow things to happen because I wanted to be prepared for whatever the outcome would be and my trust in things working out was nonexistent if they didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted it. I never took the time to understand what faith was to me or how it worked. After leaving first job last year, I remember finally realizing what I truly wanted to do with my life and constantly being worried abut how I was going to get there. One day while I was sitting in my room, for the first time I just said out loud that I didn’t know what I was doing, I was terrified and admitted to trying to control everything in my life, but I needed extra support. In that very moment, I had finally let go and started actively building and reinforcing my overall faith in not only God, but myself. From then on I made it a point to admit when I felt like I was struggling and ask God for guidance to point me in the direction that would lead me to where I needed to be. After that, things started to open up in ways I hadn’t imagined. The distrust I had for my own decisions started to dissipate and as things started to open up I was able to see where the path was going even when I didn’t know.
Realizing what I wanted to do in life and having to pursue it actively, really put faith into perspective for me, placed it at the very forefront of my life, and put me to the ultimate test. It forced me to listen, understand others, trust in the process and rely on something bigger than just myself. The activate process of actuating my dreams forced me to lean on God more than I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. It forced me to trust the process, redefined the concept of letting go, and tested my patience. My faith grounded me in the face of adversity. There were so many occasions in my life where I had lost faith, I ignored signs, or found myself at a crossroads and turned back just so I wouldn’t have to make a choice. My faith reignited my trust in myself and my abilities. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I missed out on something just because I didn’t believe in or trust myself and let everything scare the hell out of me.
My favorite Hadith (the equivalent of a verse) is the story of Anas tying his camel. In the Hadith, when traveling through the desert, Anas asks Allah if he should tie his camel or solely have faith in Allah for protection, to which Allah responded, ‘Tie her and have faith’. After starting to understand faith for myself, I remember praying for opportunities, but dragging my feet doing the actual work to help create them. I relied solely on God without the proper faith in myself, not understanding I had an important role in the process as well. I was reminded through this story that the opportunities I want can and will appear if I make sure to do the work to find the door for God to open it. While I was in between jobs last year, I constantly prayed for a new job, but was slow turning in applications or reaching out because of the amount of work it took, which seemed never ending. I just wanted to be blessed with something without doing the actual work. I learned that my faith in God needed to be coupled with faith and belief in myself in order for my dreams to be actuated…
Faith has made me fearless and I’m learning everyday with this process that that is what I have to be for the sake of pursuing my goals. It didn’t always look like me busting out my prayer rug or cracking open my Qu’ran for the world to see, sometimes it looked like me crying in my car asking for a sign, or sitting on the edge of the bed speaking my dreams into fruition aloud, or hitting my group chat asking for support from my friends because one prayer wasn’t enough or attending a prayer service I had no idea I needed. Faith is big and small, and in not so many words it’s in everything we do and is directly linked to our belief in ourselves. It may look different everyone, but it is prevalent within us all, whether working to get to where we want to be or are just striving to be a better version of ourselves. I told my friend not to long ago that I have no choice, but to believe in myself and my abilities because by default I am a extension of God, so who am I to doubt myself if by extension I am part of him? He gave me these abilities, who am I not to believe?
Trust in yourself, trust in the process… Have faith because you’re right where you need to be… Hope this inspires you, until next time…