By Crystal Daulton
It’s that time of year again where most of us do some reflecting and want to make changes for the better, however some of us aren’t able to look to our future because something is keeping us locked in the past. What are some steps we can take to free ourselves from the bondage of the past and step into a new found freedom?
1.The power of dua:
What exactly can we do to change the past? NOTHING! What we can do, is acknowledge and accept . If we truly are going to recover from our past we have to come to peace with the qadar of Allah. The qadar of Allah (swt) is one of the 6 articles of faith. It is the predestination of Allah (swt).
“No calamity befall on earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the book of decree (al law, al mahooz) before we bring it into existence. Verily that is easy for Allah” (Qur’aan 57:22)
The following is a dua which I use, and which may help you come to grips with the past and give you strength to move forward: “Allah grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference Ameen.” Ponder on these words, repeat them out loud until you believe. Jot the words on an index card. Put the cards in an easy to reach place. When you notice yourself feeling bitter about the past refer to the dua on the card.
“Indeed Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves,” ( Quraan 13:11)
There are times in our past where people have hurt us, there are other times when we have hurt people. Sometimes we have made bad decisions, Allah (swt) knows best. As reverts, most of us haven’t had the guidance of Islam. Once we take our shahada ALL of our sins are removed and we start with a clean slate. We can take responsibility for our lives instead of drowning in self-pity. Instead of holding a grudge toward someone who may have hurt you, forgive them just as Allah (swt) has forgiven you for your shortcomings. Is there someone whom you have hurt? Apologize to them, none of us are perfect.
Do you see a pattern of bad choices in your life? Ask Allah (swt) for guidance in all your affairs. Sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves and see the part we play in our own lives and strive to make improvements in the areas we can change so we can take responsibility of our lives.
3. Practice gratitude
Sometimes our worst enemy is the one that resides between our two ears. Our minds’ obsession with the past is stopping us from being grateful.
Allah(swt) says “If you are thankful I will add more favours unto you, but if you show ingratitude then My punishment is severe,” ( Quraan 14:7)
SubhanAllaah! These are the words of Allah (swt)! Look around you there is so much to be grateful for Alhamdulillah, even in the midst of your worst problems. Is there an act of kindness you can do for someone less fortunate? Volunteer some time for your favourite cause. Donate food or clothes to a person in need. By practising gratitude and helping others, we get out of our heads and quiet the negative self-talk.
Let’s move on…
4. Sabr (patience)
In Islam, the Prophet Ayyub (peace be upon him) is an example in patience. This prophet’s life is an extraordinary example of being tested in all aspects of his life including his family, wealth and health. His affliction went on for a long period of time. Not once does prophet Ayyub ask, “Why me?” Rather, he continues to worship Allah and ask for His mercy. Even when he does finally ask Allaah for help, he asks with such humility and grace:
“Indeed adversity has touched me and You are The Most Merciful of all who show mercy,” surah 21:83
Not only does Allah (swt) restore the prophet’s family, his wealth and health but He increases him in abundance.
What can we learn from the story of Ayyub? Even in the face of adversity we must remain pious and worship Allah for he is Ar-Rahmaan (the most Merciful). You can choose to be patient and live as if in the company of Allaah, or you can choose to do otherwise and exacerbate your situation and make it worse, and feel far from Allaah on top of that.
Sure, patience takes practice! Most of us want immediate gratification; nevertheless we all are capable of change. Let’s start small, but start right now. For the next 24 hours try to practice sabr by not complaining – just the next 24 hours– and replace the urge to complain by saying Alhamdulillah. If you feel 24 hours is too much go from prayer to prayer. Staying in remembrance of Allah allows us to combat the impatience.
These four steps are meant as tools to help you free yourself from the past and step into your best self. It should note that these steps are only suggestions. If you feel you are still unable to release the past it’s important to get to the root of the cause. A mental health professional will be able to guide you on gaining insight to the core of those feelings. I ask Allah(swt) to give us understanding and closure to our past, and allow us to move ahead seeking His Pleasure and reward, and not the satisfaction of our own egos or desires, ameen.
About the Author:
Crystal Daulton attended the Los Angles Training institute of Drug and alcohol counselling and is a registered drug and alcohol technician. A native of Pittsburgh Pa, Crystal is an aspiring writer who resides in Lancaster Ca. with her 6 children.