It was all over…
His family bathed and wrapped him in white, musk-scented sheets and said their tearful goodbyes as people swarmed into the mosque for the funeral prayer.
The sheikh waited for the sobs and wails to quiet down, and then asked the weirdest question.
“Does this man owe emotional debt to anyone here….? If so, please forgive him”
Emotional debt? Never had a combination of two words strike my heart like those ones did. They sounded odd. Powerful. But most of all, they sounded truly impossible. If this man had hurt someone’s feelings, broke someone’s heart, lied, cheated or betrayed someone, how on earth could this be rectified now?
One can pay a deceased’s financial debts out of love and mercy. But when it comes to matters of heart, who pays the emotional bill?
Reclaiming The Pain
Look closely at these mourning faces and you’ll see beyond what meets the eye…
A daughter who’s had no voice all her life, living in fear of being punished for having the simplest dreams
A son who’s been insulted, put down and made to believe he was a failure
A wife who’s been neglected, abused, or has had her light dimmed out by unmet needs.
A friend who’s always been there, yet stabbed in the back by the person they trusted the most
A woman who’s had her heart broken by the only man she loved because she desperately held on to empty promises.
A mother who sacrificed her life for a child who lost their way and never looked back
A hard worker who’s been belittled and treated with disrespect
Look at all this pain. It’s palpable. The pain of losing someone you love and the pain of losing yourself because you loved or needed someone so bad. Now that everything has come to an end, where do we go from here? Who foots the bill? And most importantly, how can we possibly do that?
The Roles We Play
So you’ve hurt someone? Of course you did. We all do.
I have good news and bad news for you my friend.
The good news is that you’re reading this, which means you’re still alive. You have a chance to pay the price now instead of carrying it with you to a place where debt settlement is quite unaffordable.
The bad news is…. It’s not simple math and balanced numbers. Emotional wounds are more complicated than saying ‘I’m sorry’ and pretending there’s healing magic in those words. Just like a physical wound needs time, medication and special care to fully heal, a broken heart is even much more delicate and precious. It needs patience, love, attention, remorse and changed behavior.
I know people who apologize then go back to their same toxic patterns, poking the same wound over and over till that hurt person completely collapses. And even worse, I know people who, out of fear, crawl back into their shells, act normal and just ‘wait it out’ thinking ‘time heals all wounds’. But time heals NOTHING! It’s what you do during that time that can either mend a broken heart or shatter it into a million pieces.
It’s hard to face and admit the damage we’ve done, but let me tell you what’s even harder..
Allah says “Those who cause hurt to believing men and women have invited upon themselves a calumny and a manifest sin” (Holy Qur’an 33:58)
You know what calumny means? (Me neither I had to look it up). Calumny is a misrepresentation that harms one’s reputation, and a ‘manifest sin’ is a clear, evident transgression. I’m not sure why Allah chose those two specific terms, but either way, they cover punishment in both this life and the Hereafter, and it’s you and me who’ve invited them because our egos won’t let us see where we went wrong.
If you’ve ever made someone cry or scream silently with agony, even if it was unintentional, remember that those tears are valuable in the eyes of Allah. He will not let them go unpaid for. My advice is to run and make amends, beg for forgiveness and do everything you possibly could to heal the person you broke, because if you don’t, Allah will make you settle your debts His own way, and there’s a chance it might cost you your whole eternity.
And if you’re the one who’s been wounded and broken….
If you’re the one who can’t trust anyone anymore, having to pretend you’re strong when your heart is slowly dying inside..
Thinking the person who hurt you has gotten away with it scot free….
Remember that your Lord named Himself “The Restorer”, “The Utterly Just”, “The Most Gentle”, “The Watcher”, “The Responsive One”, “The Powerful” and “The Avenger”
I swear to you by all those beautiful names that Allah will compensate you for every single time you have felt defeated and in pain. I swear to you this heartache won’t go unwitnessed, and it will eventually be replaced with love, peace and so much joy…
Just be patient, take as long as you need to process this loss and pain, for even when the logic of your brain tells you to ‘get over it already’, remember that your heart speaks the language of emotions.. It will lag behind and take much longer to completely heal…
It’s okay not to be okay for a while…
Be kind to yourself and enjoy this richness….
For Allah the greatest is the One who will repay you….
That’s a promise….
All my love…
Lilly S. Mohsen