Life is a puzzle, god gives us the missing pieces and it’s our duty to put them together – me
I was seeking spiritual guidance. I had a feeling of loneliness that I could not describe. An emptiness that could not be fulfilled by anyone. I was searching for tranquility but didn’t know how to find it. I prayed to find something to heal my soul.
My mornings were a dreadful experience. I didn’t want to interact with anyone and going to work seemed liked a challenge every day. I completed my obligations but distanced myself respectfully. My social life was affected; I enjoy connecting with people and somehow words felt heavy on my tongue resulting in a disoriented speech. I developed a sense of anxiety when I would be surrounded amongst people, so I made an effort to be discreet. I concealed my pain from loved ones because of the fear of judgement. I had a job, family, friends and health. To be honest, I didn’t want to seem deranged or depressed or worse – ungrateful. I’m loved and blessed in so many ways but yet I was feeling the complete opposite. I knew something was wrong because this feeling was lingering and the worst part was that I didn’t know how to express what I was going through. My physical appearance was presentable but I was hurting deep down. I still had a smile on my face even though it was a struggle to keep it.
At some point, I realized my isolation was not helping me and seeing my friends might uplift me. My friend invited me to a gathering. I was apprehensive because I was not acquainted with her guests before but despite my hesitations, I went. She invited me, there was food (that’s always a plus) and I missed her presence. I arrived early to help set up. Within an hour the first guests started to arrive. They seemed pleasant but I was not interested in conversations. I tried to be respectful and give my complete attention when they were speaking but still felt disengaged. Again, the feelings of emptiness crawled back in. But it was time to eat and I was happy because food rarely disappoints me – especially if it’s made well.
As I’m preparing my plate, I hear a subtle knock on the door. I signal to the host that someone is here. Long behold, I hear a voice full of excitement. I was pleased because finally somebody was energetic. I see her face and I automatically see a beautiful glow in her face. It was Noor (a mesmerizing light). I actually had a smile that wasn’t forced; it came naturally. We started talking and I felt an intense connection like I knew her from another life. I’m sure you’re wondering what her name is – Hanan.
As we finished our food, the host decided that we should play a game. Of course, she picked two truths and a lie. When it was Hanan’s turn, she discussed her struggles very openly. She was born with cleft lip and palate; a common birth condition resulting in an opening or splits on the lips. Because of her condition, she has undergone 15 surgeries. She talked about her process of self healing and how her diagnosis changed her facial appearance. It wasn’t easy for her because of the negativity that she had to overcome but she was determined. Her mantra was simple: everything happens for a reason.
Hanan demonstrated so much grace and optimism. The best part is she has grown to love who she is because she knows she’s beautiful in God’s eyes. She was humbled by her experience and as a result, it enabled her to become a motivational coach. I was astonished by her courage to have hope despite her pain.
Several days passed and I still thought about Hanan’s challenges. For the first time, I started reflecting. And then it came to me….. why haven’t I taken the time to reflect on who I am? Who I am meant to be? I started thinking about my future and my passions and the question continued – What is my purpose? What do I want to achieve? What makes me happy?
Then, I had a lightbulb moment. I noticed I wasn’t feeling empty anymore. It was not lingering like a stubborn shadow but I felt free. I started looking at the sky at sunset with amazement and was startled by its marvelous beauty. The sky was like a painting with no limit. I thought of the ocean. One of my favorite hobbies is to go to the beach. I reminisced of Oregon and the waves of the Pacific Ocean. The cold mist and the rhythms of the waves so hypnotic it could only be described as seductive and sent chills down my spine. I could stare at the ocean mindlessly in awe. As I daydreamed I came to the conclusion that reflections are a mercy and a gift from God. Reflections should not be taken for granted and sometimes that’s all it takes to enrich our lives.
Something else happened. I started to appreciate spending time with myself. I enjoyed being in a state of solitude. In the past, my seclusion would include watching countless movies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-entertainment but I was seeking a temporary escape that clearly did not work. It’s like putting duct tape on a burn wound; I wasn’t prepared to address the root of the problem.
I began to unravel a different side of me. For instance, I started to feel more creative and developed a love for fashion. I found confidence through the Muslim American Leadership Alliance and the courage to feel proud to be an American Muslim. I was experiencing a journey of self love and it was the greatest feeling in the world. A force within me was activated that made me feel whole.
The greatest lesson for me is attaining the peace I desired required a reality check. I was too busy trying to live in a survival mode that I disregarded my soul. I am not just a physical being. What lies inside of me is something beyond our imagination.
I was seeking divine inspiration but all I needed was a reminder of the human spirit. Every human being has special sets of gifts that define us. Finding Hanan made me realize my potential. Hanan truly embodies what I aspire to be and I’m honored to be enriched by her presence. I know for a fact we did not cross paths by mistake. I believe God puts people in your life at the right moment.
If you’re ever in search of inspiration, just remember: a special lights exists in all of us; it just needs to be discovered.