This is the last Friday Feeler of 2018. Can you imagine that we’re here, already? The whole year feels like it’s zoomed by our eyes. Time has passed so quickly.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had an array of experiences in the last 12 months. I’ve had some amazing highs, alhamdulillah. I’ve been given some really difficult lows, too. I’ve been given some trials, disappointments, angst, joy, and belly laughing experiences and memories, alhamdulillah. I’ve been given the whole package, and I’m sure you have, too.
You know that I love journaling, and it’s through journaling that I’ve been able to document my journey for the last 12 months, so I come to you today with 7 lessons that I’m taking away from 2018, inshaAllah.
#1 Everything is determined by Allah in the best form
This came about as a reflection of verse 23 of Surah al-Mursalat (77) where Allah says,
‘We determined [it]. How excellently we determine.’
When I reflect on my 2018, I see that every single thing that happened and every single thing I experienced was in the best form. Even those moments that hurt. Those moments that had me crying. And those moments where I questioned myself, where I was, and what I was doing, this verse highlights that Allah has determined everything in the best form, in the best time, and with the best execution.
As I think about that, it gives me goosebumps because when you’re in the thick of it, you’re not really thinking that, right? You’re not curled up on the floor thinking, ‘Oh, yeah, this the best execution.’ You’re hurting at that point. It’s only when you’re on dry land that you can look back and say, ‘Okay, there’s learning here.’
I know for sure that every single that Allah has allowed me to experience this year and in years prior to this year has been in the best form, in the best time, and with excellence.
#2 Trusting in Allah allows me to freefall with tawakkul
Freefall with tawakkul is one of my favourite phrases (along with ‘roll with the qadr’). Feel whatever it is that you’re feeling, place it before Him, make du’a and salatul istikhara, and let it go. Take action and freefall with tawakkul.
Whatever happens once you’ve placed it before Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, is going to be khair; it’s going to be good. Whether it comes out the way you want or not, it’ll be good. It’s so relieving. I’ve seen when I’ve allowed myself to freefall with tawakkul, my heart is lighter, my steps are surer, and the result is ultimately one that’s good and brings me a feeling of contentment.
#3 Feeling isn’t the basis of worship
This came about during a Qur’an retreat in August. We talked about how sometimes we don’t really feel like reading the Qur’an, or don’t get a gushy feeling after prayer. One of the many things I took from the retreat was that having the feels isn’t the basis of my relationship with Allah.
Feeling gushy, mushy, or ecstatic isn’t the result I’m looking for when I’m asking from Him; or when I’m praying; or when I read the Qur’an. If our deen was based on feeling, or our ‘ibadaat were based on feeling, we wouldn’t be doing most things because we’re not feeling the feels all the time. And that’s okay. As long as we’re choosing to still show up and put Allah before us, that’s what matters. The feels are just a cherry on top.
#4 I give attention to what I believe matters
This came to me during Ramadan. Prior to Ramadan, I’d kinda told myself that establishing a daily routine with the Qur’an would be really difficult for me or challenging because of my work load and my responsibilities. (I’m sure you recognise that as a limiting belief!) This was a story I told myself.
So, Ramadan rolls in, and LaYinka is reading the Qur’an every single day. I reflected in my journal: ‘Hold up a hot-dang-diggity second! You picked up the Qur’an every single day. For a month. What happened to your story?’
My reflection showed me that I gave attention to reading Qur’an every day because at that point, in Ramadan, I believed it mattered. So outside of Ramadan, if I’m not doing it that means I don’t believe it matters outside of Ramadan.
Looking at my actions, I could see that I was giving attention to, and I do give attention to — and I’m sure you would agree that you give attention to what you believe matters to you.
So, if you’re giving attention to something that isn’t what you want to be or should be prioritising, then it’s about getting curious and asking yourself, ‘Am I believing this matters more than this?’ When you frame it like that, you start to change, and something shifts.
#5 Slow down
I’ve had to remind myself this time and time again this entire year: Slow. Down. Take your time. Pace yourself.
It’s amazing what happens when we slow down. Just think about it: When you go to pray, and you slow down your salah, what happens to the quality of your connection and conversation with Allah in that prayer? It’s amazing, right? When we slow down, we start to notice things. Hear things. Different kinds of realisations dawn upon us because we’ve allowed ourselves to slow down.
#6 See what already exists (and then show gratitude)
One day I was reflecting in my journal about something I’d finally noticed, and it wasnt that it hadn’t been there all along. It was. I just hadn’t seen it because I didn’t allow myself to give it attention.
This pairs beautifully with slowing down, so i actually see and feel, and can then thank Allah for what He’s already given me because it’s already there. Isn’t it amazing how sometimes we ask Allah, ‘I want this… I need this…’ and we fail to recognise that what we do want we already have, just maybe in a different form.
I see this in relationships lot with my 1:1 clients. They complain about their husband, and when we do some work together they recognise, ‘LaYinka! He’s already giving me this, I just didn’t see it as that!’ That’s the power of seeing what already exists, then thanking Allah so He can increase it for you.
#7 Write things down
I have a tradition of writing my du’a — for Yawmul Arafah, Ramadan, and general du’a, too. I have found that going back and looking at my du’a and seeing how many Allah has fulfilled for me is so amazing to do.
See what happens is: We make dua, and we may get it answered, and we don’t recognise it has been, so we lose that opportunity to thank Allah and show gratitude for Him fulfilling what we asked of Him. The beauty of writing du’a down is that you can give thanks and give praise, especially if at the moment of your du’a being answered you didn’t recognise it as such. Going through your du’a list is a way to reaffirm and reconnect with Allah because you see that Al-Wahhab — The All-Giving — is always giving, and you can see where He’s given to you.
And I also advocate reflection journaling. It’s through reflection journaling that I’ve been able to come to you with this Friday Feeler because I wrote things down. We have a tendency to forget things, especially the good times and amazing lessons we’ve gleaned from our experiences. The beauty of writing things down, is that we always have a recollection and documentation of our experiences — the great and not so great. Even with the not so great, we can still thank Allah for getting us through them and the lessons He gave us from those tough times.
On the point of reflection journaling, I have a very limited number of the Evolve & Emerge Reflection Journal left. The price of the journal will increase in 2019 because the production price has gone up, so if you want a copy, get a copy of the Reflection Journal before it sells out and the price goes up. Get a copy today, so you can get it at the lower price.
Have a wonderful rest of 2018, my lovely. We will be back in January, inshaAllah. I pray you get to reflect on your year by writing down the learnings and how you’re going to take them with you into 2019, and put them into good use. And I’m sure you’ll put your learnings into good use.
Have a wonderful weekend, Beautiful. See you in 2019, inshaAllah.
P.S. Be sure to get your copy of the Evolve & Emerge Reflection Journal at the current price.