Tag Archives: forgiveness

Who Are You?

Who Am I?

I came here to write.
I did, didn’t I..?

Once a year, I escape to this serene place by the Nile River, to soak in the sun, the peaceful Nubian vibes and most of all, to reconnect with myself again after the turmoil of yet another year filled with….
What? I don’t know..

Do you…?

Everytime I come here, hoping to find myself, or do something different, I come across your little secret as well… 

‘Wherever you go, there you are…’

I know you’ve tried to escape too and to no avail.
I know you’ve tried to ‘find’ yourself, set new goals or just tried to make sense of every heartache you’ve been through..
I know the same thoughts haunt you and pull you down every once in a while, and sometimes the time you take away to “heal” is just another form of a numbing technique or a mere distraction from the reality that’s too hard to face.

(Wait, the woman sitting next to me is telling her friend all about her abusive husband and it’s so hard not to eavesdrop! It’s like the universe is conspiring to stop me from writing. Help!)

Yes, you’ll lose focus and be drawn away from your own thoughts, especially when you try to dig deeper into your own soul. Mindfulness is tricky business because you’re asking your brain to go against the current. The brain is wired to think, wander, worry, plan, predict and fixate on perceived signs of threat. It will not miss an opportunity to remind you of your past failures or your doomed unknown future. At some point, your mind will sound like a nagging wife and you’ll be that absent-minded husband trying to drown out her negativity. Instead of bringing your attention to the ‘here and now’, you’ll do anything but. 

It’s happening to me as we speak! What the??
I’m only here for a few days, people! Is it too much to ask of my brain to cooperate and join this little excursion into self development? 

Who Are You?

 
We try to be ourselves, but do we really know who we are?
Who are you?
Not your name or your status or number of followers on instagram.
When you’re not a daughter or a parent or even a doctor saving lives left and right.
When you’re alone with yourself, not doing anything for anyone, and not running around in circles from sunup till sundown.

Who are you underneath everything you portray to the world?

You’ll believe you’re thinking about the answer to the above question, but the truth is, you’re only listening to the same thoughts in your head that completely control you….

“I don’t know who I am..”
“I’m someone who’s been hurt too many times..”
“I’m a good person who’s always been misunderstood…”
“I’m a bad person who shows the world the exact opposite..”
“I’m someone who is scared, anxious, alone, insecure, and/or angry at the world..”
“I’m someone who has everything and yet completely miserable”

If you’re listening to these thoughts in your head, then who is saying them?
Come on, you can’t be talking and listening at the same time, right?
Which one is ‘You’?

You were not born believing those statements, though. Something happened to you somewhere along the line, that made a part of you believe them and another part resist them. Does that make sense?
Perhaps you strive to be in a loving relationship, even though deep down, you know your needs will never be met.

You work hard and plan to better your career, yet something tells you the success you’re craving is absolutely unattainable.

But now, which one are you? The positive, sunny one working towards your dreams, or the doubtful one, sitting in the dark corner with your arms crossed and one eyebrow up?

You’re both…

And I’m not implying you suffer from multiple personality disorders or anything, otherwise with all my different and opposite characteristics I should have been locked up in a mental asylum years ago 🙂

Let me explain…
From birth to the age of seven, your brain functioned very differently from the way it is now. From theta to alpha brainwave patterns, your mind was literally like a sponge, absorbing all kinds of information and filing them away in permanent folders named ‘Core Beliefs’. 

You took mental notes of what a marriage looks like by watching how your parents treated each other.
You figured out if your needs mattered or not, by the way your mom responded to them.
You created a list of behaviors and actions that will get you the most attention, and another one that incites danger, punishment or shame. 

It all started with a story…
“I turned out this way because this and this happened…”
Unfortunately, the stories you learn at such a fragile age have deeper roots into your soul and usually morph into ‘core beliefs’, some of them so powerful you never even consider  questioning them. They become your ‘narrative identity’ and like any great storyteller, as events unfolded, you add heroes, villains, plot twists and challenges to overcome. 


Who you are is what you believe about yourself based on a personal myth you created when your brain wasn’t even developed enough to know which side is up! We believed in tooth fairies and mermaids at that age for God’s sake. (I still do but you know). Actually that’s my point exactly! We are not trained to challenge our core beliefs, which is why I just realized I’ve been asking you the wrong question all along…

Who Do You Want To Be?

In the past, when I was a completely different person, I asked you ‘Who Are You?’ which implies you are this one fixed identity that is unchangeable. No wonder we keep repeating the same old habits and replaying the same limiting beliefs. In an attempt to find who we are, we are confining who we can become. We are so attached to the stories we tell ourselves despite them being destructive, and then try to escape through distractions, work, food, (eavesdropping!), sleep and social media to drown out the pain of a FABLE! It’s the only thing that helps and it’s not helping…

We begin to change our lives when we realize that the stories we tell ourselves are just that: stories. They can change.
(Don’t look at me like that. I swear to Allah they can!)

Listen to me….
Do you believe you’re incapable of finding love because you’ve never felt loved for who you truly are?
Do you think this is all you could be because you’ve failed to change your bad habits in the past?
Have you done way to many sins that you’ve deemed yourself ‘unforgiven’?
Do you give but feel too ‘undeserving’ to receive?
Do you have ‘trust issues’, ‘anger issues’, ‘daddy issues’, ‘health issues’ or any other ‘issues’ obstructing you from living the life you dream of?
Have you lied to your loved ones so much that you can’t look them in the eye anymore..?
Have you disappointed and pushed away the one person whom you believed could have made you ridiculously happy?

Are you scared your partner will reject you because you aren’t able to give them what they need?

Have you failed and are terrified to fail again?

Good..
Now we’re talking…

To Wait Or Create?

We live in a world that’s getting weirder by the minute…

Everything is changing so fast and spiraling out of control that the concept of ‘logical thinking’ doesn’t make sense anymore.
If logic was the only defining factor, we wouldn’t be suffering because of our internalized myths. Our lives would go according to plan and there wouldn’t be any unexpected surprises to steer us away.

We don’t know why some people died in the pandemic and some didn’t..

We don’t know why some people were born into poor families and some into rich..

Logic is not the driving force in any equation. Emotions are!
In fact, studies show that emotions drive 80% of your decision making. I mean, how many times did you do something out of character because you were angry, excited or scared? What crazy things did you do for love? How many life goals did you dodge because of fear, shame or insecurity?

If you’re waiting for the perfect moment to realize your dreams and be who you’re meant to be, trust me you’ll be waiting for a long longggggg time….

If you’re basing your actions on the results you want to achieve, like be more healthy, be in a relationship, lose weight, make more money and all the other life goals we’re conditioned to seek, you’ll fall into a dangerous ‘double-sided sword’ logic loop. And soon you’ll find logical reasons why you can’t succeed…
“The economy is bad”
“I don’t have time to workout”
“Marriage is hard”
“I’ll never find the right person”
Your core beliefs will kick in to have a little ‘negative thinking’ party, and so the story you’ve been telling yourself continues…

Don’t base who you are and your successes on results, because that’s out of your control. Base it on your effort, because that’s all anyone can do….

You’ll be judged in the Hereafter based on your intentions and your effort, not the result…
The same with life in this world. If you’re always scared to mess up, you’ll never try. Failing is the only path to success.
That’s how you learn, reassess and later perfect.

Who you are is not based on what you’ve achieved…
It’s what you believe about yourself

The actions you take and the consistent effort you put regardless of the outcome

Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said: “Verily, Allah does not look at your appearance or wealth, but rather he looks at your hearts and actions.” (Muslim)

( Yay! I can’t believe I found this Hadith. It says it all)

Your heart….
It’s beautiful and it’s changeable.
Whatever you believe in your heart, you can certainly acquire and achieve through the right actions
Good intentions are not enough
Logical, calculated practices are not enough
You need both….
You need a desired feeling to be your ultimate goal

And the actions to get you there….

And in this journey, with all its transformational ups and downs that’s when you’ll become….
Who you truly are…

All my Love,
Lilly S. Mohsen

Day 27: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: Is Tonight The Night?

 

No don’t worry, my biological clock isn’t that messed up yet loool
I’m meaning to post this a bit earlier than usual today coz this one is a deed of the heart, and who knows, perhaps tonight is ‘Laylat Al Qadr’ (The Night Of Power).
If it is, you’ll be so happy you read this today, I think you’ll be making cartwheels in Jannah loool

 

A little bit about Laylat Al Qadr?

Okay sure…

 

You know, centuries ago, people lived up to a 1000 years. I remember reading a story about a man who died in his 500s and his mom stood over his grave crying hysterically because he ‘died young’ looool (I know it’s not funny but I’m sorry it kind of is)

When that mother heard about the likes of us, whose averages lifespans is 80 years, her jaws dropped and she said ‘Why would they even come to the world? There’s no time to do anything”

 

“The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was shown the lifespans of the people (who had gone) before him, or what Allah willed of that, and it was as if the lives of the people of his community had become too short for them to be able to do as many good actions as others before them had been able to do with their long lives, so Allah gave him Laylat al- Qadr, which is better than a thousand months.” (https://sunnah.com/urn/407130)

 

The word ‘Qadr’ has multiple meanings, ones of which are:
Decree:
The night of great ‘decision-making’ by Allah, entailing mercy and love from Him to His slaves.
Honor:
The most honorable of angels (Jibreel) came with the most honorable of books (Qur’an) to give to the most honorable of messengers (Mohammad) on the most honored month (Ramadan).

Power:
Allah endowed this night with unusual power. This is the night we should have complete faith in the power of Allah to change things…
To change our destinies to the better…
To change our flaws and fate and behavior…
We ask Him to accept us, forgive us and love us…

 

And yet every year, even when we try to get so close to Him…
Some of us still feel so far away…

You’ll hear others cry during prayers, and see their blessed tears roll down their faces at the mention of Allah’s name

And then you’ll look yourself up and down, stare at your dry tearless eyes, and shake your head with disappointment

 

You might think you didn’t put enough effort…
You were too distracted or too flawed or just not spiritual or soft….

You’ll look at those who worship Him with reverence and silently start wondering if you’re good enough..
You’ll witness this blessed night and then start telling yourself
‘I tried… I tried so many times, but I don’t feel anything.. I’m not tearing up or getting shivers down my back or even feeling serene…maybe Allah doesn’t want me…”

 

Are you crazy? How can you ever think that?

 

You’re right there at the mosque, in His house!
I mean would you allow anyone to stay at your place against your will?

No one forced Allah to allow you to enter His house…
The mere fact that you’re there, wherever you are, on your knees before your Lord, begging Him to accept you, means He already did!

Allah is the Most Generous….
He will never say ‘Hey, what brought you here!’
No… He will actually bring you closer, like a loving mother warmly embracing her child, and He will say: just “Call upon Me; I will respond to you”

We don’t change suddenly…
We don’t become pious, righteous and have faces glowing with the light of faith at the press of a button.

It’s a build up
Of little random acts of kindness and good deeds…

When you sit alone and think of how Great and Magnificent your Lord is….

When you play with an orphan or feed a poor family…

When you put your family first, and help them out with chores, even when they don’t even notice it…

When you emulate the beloved Prophet (just because he’s so awesome)

When you feed a bird or help a homeless dogs on the street
Or take the time to absorb a verse from the Qur’an or learn a Hadith and get your questions answered…

When you make your parents smile…
Or do things from the heart for Allah’s sake…
When you give good advice
Or volunteer to help others
When you teach a child to be a proud Muslim
Or when you silently praise the beloved Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him)
When you remember the deceased in your prayers, even though they’re not here to thank you…
Or when you’re grateful for Allah’s simplest blessings…

 

When you give compliments to gladden people’s hearts…
Or when you spend from what you love the most…

 

When you forgive others for His sake…
Or when you forgive yourself and promise to start anew…

 

When you visit your grandparents and listen to their repetitive stories…
Or when you make a du’aa for someone you don’t like, in an attempt to please your Lord…

 

When you take time out of your day to read a post like this one, hoping it might bring you even an inch closer to Allah…
Or when you realize that I just listed all the acts of kindness we did this Ramadan and keep it to yourself instead of yell out “You’re SO BUSTED!’ looool

 

So be patient with your Lord…
Be patient in worshipping Him….

The change doesn’t happen suddenly…

The tears don’t flow abruptly…

The goodness doesn’t come unnaturally…

It’s the outcome of building a relationship with Allah throughout the years…

So if you don’t feel anything tonight, it’s okay…
Keep investing, keep trying, and keep coming….
You’re still on the same path with all the other people you look up to…

Some are walking
Some are jogging
And some are running with amazing speed

But in the end they’re all on the same journey, heading towards the same destination…
Pleasing Allah

 

If tonight is Laylat Al Qadr, then smile and open your heart to the love, peace and angels surrounding you….

Just talk to Allah they way you’d talk to a close friend…
And don’t doubt it even for a second…
Because you are more than enough…
You’re accepted and sheltered in His mercy and care…

So tell Him all your secrets tonight…
Ask for everything you wish for…

And don’t forget to remember me and my family in your duaa please (maybe you’ll be the reason we do cartwheels in Jannah too)

 

May Allah bless you all
And since you’ll be supplicating to the Most Compassionate and Most Generous

May the most you ask for
be the least you get….
All my love,

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 24: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY TWENTY-FOUR: Let’s Open Old Wounds, Shall We?

 

This might seem random (and a bit nosy) but I gotta ask…
Who’s that one person who has hurt you the most….?

Who has caused you unimaginable heartache and pain?

Has hurt you so much that you started to hate yourself..
To the point that if they knew how horrible you felt inside, they’d never be able to look you in the eyes again…?

It’s ironic, but I’m pretty sure that same person was once very near and dear to your heart.
Maybe an ex best friend?

A family member?

A man you once loved more than words could say?

A woman who proved monsters were real..?

 

And it doesn’t end there..
Because not only did they hurt you beyond repair; they’ve also changed you..
into someone you don’t recognize…
into a person who doesn’t believe in love anymore
into a woman who has to spend the rest of her life wondering why she wasn’t good enough
into a sister who can’t trust her own siblings or friends or even her own parents
into a man who runs away from affection
Or pretends to be whole when he’s all broken inside..

 

They didn’t just give you immense pain..
They took a precious part away
A part you’ll spend the rest of your life looking for…
And when you do find it…
You’ll suddenly be too scared
and too scarred to touch it
The people who hurt us steal something on their way out of our lives..
Our innocence…
Our security…
And our hopes..

 

Oh come on people.
I just poked and prodded at some really deep old wounds. What more do I have to do to stir up a whole commotion?
I mean I don’t see fumes coming out of your ears or fire coming out of your mouths or even the classic jaw clenching?

Where did I go wrong? loool

Seriously..
You can tell me…
Has the anger settled into ashes of sadness and disappointed..?
Are you pretending like you don’t care when deep inside you really do?

Or have you given up completely?

Are you waiting for karma to take its course of absolute revenge?

 

It’s not that I can read your mind loool.
It’s just that I feel you..
Because I’ve been hurt before too
By those I loved and trusted the most..
But as I’ve grown older and more mature I’ve come to realize….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s so hard to see the good in people who have LITERALLY MADE YOUR LIFE MISERABLE!
Ohhhh that felt good
Okay, rant time’s over
Ready for some good deeds? Loool

 

Beginners Level:

Not sure how ‘beginner’ this one’s gonna be because in reality it’s a really difficult task.
Your act of kindness for the day is to make du’aa for someone who has hurt you badly or someone you don’t really like.

Yes, you heard that right.

And no, no negotiation

And yes, you have to forgive them before making du’aa for them

And no, it’s not an impossible task

Listen to this…
 “…and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

This verse came down to compel Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) to forgive…
Forgive who exactly?

The man who slandered his daughter Aisha

His daughter who?! AISHA!

Who is Aisha again? The Prophet’s wife!

The mother of all believers!!

He said horrible things about her that weren’t even true
And not only that! Mustah Ibn Athatha, the man who gossiped about Aisha, was Abu Bakr’s cousin
A very poor cousin
and Abu Bakr financially support him
And Allah asked him to forgive and go back to spending money on him like nothing happened!

Guys, seriously,

I don’t feel like you’re getting how huge this is!
Someone speaks about my daughter and the first thing I’ll start planning is how to take out all his organs and bury each body part in a different country!!

But now Allah doesn’t like that, you know why?
Because the bitterness will eat us alive

The ‘hate’ is such a huge burden to carry.. It’s poisonous and exhausting..
And it blinds us from seeing the goodness in ourselves and other people.

 

So if you want Allah to forgive you, do yourself a favor and forgive those who have hurt you…
You loved them once…
I’m sure you loved them for a reason…
Besides, maybe they’re hurting ten times over
And maybe your du’aa tonight will take both your pains away..
Advanced Level?

Just getting this one done from the heart deserves a medal!
I wouldn’t ask for more…
I’ll just sit here and admire your strength from far
and ask Allah to give us this kindness, purity and nobility…
And to fill our lives with so much joy and love that we don’t even notice the pain anymore

Say Amen : )

 

Ramadan Kareem everyone

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 21: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY TWENTY-ONE: Forgive Yourself

Ladies and gentlemen…

We have reached the most important part of the month
The stage we’ve all been preparing for…
The master scene of the whole year…
The last ten nights of Ramadan, where the Prophet himself (may peace and blessings be upon him) would stay up all night and wake up his whole household to strive hard in worship (Bukhari and Muslim)

 

Now I’ll relate a little scenario and you guys tell me if it sounds familiar, okay?

Last ten days. I can’t afford to miss on them I really CAN’T!
If I read three chapters a day, I’ll finish the whole Qur’an in these ten days! Not a biggie, ha?”

Two days later…

“Oops I’ve wasted so much time I’m still on chapter four!” Eyes dart left and right “You know what, it’s really the odd nights that count. Yup, I’ll pray hard and worship Allah every second of every minute on those odd nights!
Two days later…

Fine, I’ve wasted more precious time but really, who are we kidding, we both know Laylat Al Qadr is probably on the night of the 27th, right? I’m acing it, watch and see…”

And then the most amazing thing happens…
You sit in worship for the whole night till sunrise.
You finish reading the whole Qur’an, all 604 pages in two hours, and pray 77 Raka’s then go to sleep and get a vivid sign in your dreams, that yes it was Laylat Al Qadr and yes you’ve definitely gotten the reward of 1000 months of worship…. And yes….
You’ve been reborn.
(Probably not what happens at all but I just wanted you guys to have this amazing feeling for a couple of seconds loool)

Because it is an amazing feeling…

For 355 days we’re out and about, unfocused and perhaps living our lives mindlessly.
And then come those ten nights, we find the will and power within us to invest in our eternal lives.

To focus on the unseen part of reality.
To realize these ten nights are precious gifts.
Our prayers won’t make Allah more Magnificent or more Dominant.
It’s us who need them the most. It’s US who need to gather as much good as possible before we check out and pay for our bad deeds. (Oh I just remembered something about bad deeds, but I don’t wanna lose my train of thoughts. Can you please remind me to write about it later? Thanks lool)
Maybe we don’t know it now, but we trust our beloved when he insisted over and over and explained how priceless these last ten nights are.

So do your best.
Do the best you can…

And if you find yourself running away from Allah, instead of running to Him with your fears, hopes and pains, then maybe there’s a reason..
Probably the same reason why many of us don’t make the best out of the best of nights..

Some of us don’t know how to face the Qiblah and stand before Allah, when we can’t even face ourselves with all our faults.

Some of us can’t get closer to Allah, because deep inside, there’s a barrier between our souls and our minds…

Some of us refuse to reap the rewards of those precious nights because we’re so disappointed at our own failures; we feel we deserve nothing in return…

Some of us have an inner anger, like this rage towards the world, and it’s blinding us from reaching out to Allah…

And some of just are just drained and lost…
We don’t know how to move on with the future, when deep down we know we could have done better in the past..
We drag our mistakes with us every where we go; and have no earthly idea of how to put the burden of guilt down on the ground

Some of us can’t make Du’aa..
Can’t focus in prayer and can’t absorb the words of the Holy Qur’an.
And it’s not because we’re shallow
It’s because we’re too immersed in the guilt and pain of the past

There’s no levels here, for you’ll always be a beginner when you’re trying to heal…
It’s time to make peace with your broken pieces…

Promise me…
When you stand before your Lord asking for His forgiveness..
Know for sure that He has already forgiven you there and then
Your past doesn’t define you. It really doesn’t…
Promise you’ll start the special ten nights with renewed hope
It’s the first step to get closer to Almighty Allah
Start a new page with your Lord
And do what He has already done
Forgive….
‘You’….

 

Tonight… all you need to do
Is forgive yourself…
 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen