I complained to my friend about the pain I felt.
“What kind of pain?” she asked.
“All kinds - physical, emotional… You name it, specially emotional pain.”
She looked at me for a while, raised her eyes toward the ceiling of the room, and then said:
“Have you ever felt numb?”
“Yes, many times,” I replied.
“Did you like that feeling?” she enquired.
“No, not at all,” I answered.
“So pain is better, isn’t it?”
I had to think about it, but the answer was obvious. Numbness is a symptom - an imbalance. So, it must mean that pain is part of the normal human state. I felt afraid.
“Do you mean that feeling pain is normal? Am I to except pain to be a part of my life?” I enquired.
“Yes, of course. But don’t just focus on the pain. There are many other feelings and sensations as well, but we tend to ignore them, and give our attention to the overwhelming and perhaps more frightening ones.”
Her words settled on me heavily. I certainly didn’t want to feel numb; I would much rather undergo the turmoil of emotional pain and loss than to be locked out of reality. Surely, it was better to be vulnerable. Realizing this gave me a sense of balance, despite the ache.
She could see that I was thinking deeply and added:
“You must accept pain, not fight it. Accept the state you are in.”
“But isn’t pain a warning signal that something is wrong?” I asked.
“Yes, but it might be your thinking that is out of balance. Regardless of your state, accept it and trust Almighty Allah, then He will help you to see the positive aspect that always exists in and around the hardship.”
“With every difficulty there is ease…” came the verse from the Qur`an to me.
“Yes, exactly. Anything that moves the heart is good for us. Everything in life has a positive or negative potential, and everything is created for the greater good. Even in death, flowers and plants grow on a grave. Nothing is wasted.”
“Even death is positive?” I asked.
“It is often sadness that moves the heart the most, even more than happiness. Sadness makes the heart softer while great happiness can sometimes make the heart hard, unfeeling and exultant.”
I understood the importance of having a heart that is soft and sensitive, so I could decipher the meaning of life, but it didn’t take away the emotional pain I was feeling. This pain was strong enough to engulf me. It threatened to overwhelm me leaving me hollow.
“Is there good in this feeling?” I wondered.
“You live in your own internal world where you dream, perceive, decide and respond. What counts are the decisions you make, your intention and the effort you exert in striving to be a power of good in the world. Anything that pushes you towards that is ‘good’.”
“So all these feelings are good for me,” I said partly to myself.
“Look, you have pain, you don’t like it and you’re afraid of it, yet you hold onto it! You have to learn to let it go because you are not in control anyway.”
“Do I hold onto the pain?”
Can I do that I wondered.
“And it’s not just your own pain; you also have to feel the pain of others.”
“Mine is more than enough!” I declared, almost laughing. “More than enough!”
“When you feel the pain of others it helps you to bear your own.”
“Well, look what’s happening now. You’re telling me how you feel; don’t you
feel better having done that?”
“Yes, actually I do,” I said in deep thought.
“And as I listen to you, I feel calmer and I feel less pain. We benefit each other.”
“Do you feel pain too?”
“Everyone feels pain.”
“Life is so hard.”
“Oh, come on. Don’t forget that everything has two sides. For all the marvelous emotions that can fill our being there is also darker emotions. You can never appreciate beauty, truth or joy without having experienced their opposites. If we only experience beauty and happiness, we would be angels! But remember Almighty Allah says that the righteous human being is higher than the angels – so feel your pain, enjoy it and grow through it!”
I closed my eyes and let the waves of pain wash over me. I didn’t resist them. I waited. They passed. I opened my eyes. There was calmness.
“So what did you learn?” she asked.
“I survived it. It passed. Everything changes.”
“Yes, accept change and accept yourself. It’s the only way you can start to build.”
I felt stronger. The pain had edged its way into the background, and left me with a sense of clarity-- tranquility.
“Where did you learn all this?” I asked. “Is there a book I should read?” As if anything could be so easy.
“No,” she laughed.
“Allah the Almighty puts His signs in the universe all around us. Anyone can see them and understand them, even if he can not read!
By Selma A. Cook