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It’s Not You, It’s Me

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Being around children for most of my life has taught me many things, but most importantly, it meant I felt like I never really grew up. A bit Peter Pan-esque if you think about it, but it was never out of the desire to not age, but rather out of the want to never see life as black and white. Recently however, I allowed myself to do that. I became locked into this adult frame of mind and couldn’t find an escape for myself; it suddenly felt as though the consequence of every action carried a sense of permanence that seeped through from this life into the next. But like all things, this too had to come to an end.

Let me share a moment from my day with you to put this into context.


In the early hours of Monday morning, I was sat on the floor with my little nephew who is, and I quote, “2 years old but soon I will be 3 so I can play football with the boys” (the football bit is entirely unimportant but it cracks me up every time he says it as an add-on to the age question!). Cross-legged on the carpet and lazy in our pyjamas (hey, we’re still technically in lockdown, don’t judge us!), we pulled out our box of jigsaw puzzles. They vary from 6 pieces per set to 24, but with a growing brain (and an incessant love for Spiderman), we tried our hand at the 24 piece puzzle today. I knew it would be difficult. He knew it would be difficult. My mum stared holes into the back of my head because she also knew it would be difficult, but we set out to do it anyway.

Like all good adults, I knew that he needed the framework to begin. He needed a solid foundation before he could complete the puzzle and I was more than happy to oblige. Having created the frame of the puzzle, I left him to his devices. I watched him skilfully match up the faintest of patterns and though it pained me to stand back, I also watched him get frustrated when a piece that looked to be the perfect fit (even to my eye) just wouldn’t fit in the given space. I heard my mother tell me to stop holding back and to step in and help him, but in telling her to bear patiently, I realised what I’ve been waiting my whole life to understand.


In stepping back and watching one of the lights of my life struggle and show his frustration, I understood. For every time I asked “why me?” or “what do You get out of putting me through this?”, I understood. It was never about Him. It was always about me. It was always about how I was going to learn and how I was going to turn back to the only One who could help me.

I could’ve helped my nephew. In fact, it would have weighed far less heavily on my heart if I’d just helped him with the puzzle, but I knew that as someone who loves him with all my heart, it is a responsibility upon me to step back and let him muddle through. Because the truth is, when he completed that puzzle, he was on top of the world. I’ve never seen him look more accomplished and that warmed my heart far more than I thought was possible. But it made me realise: all the tests and trials I felt stuck in. All the times I could see the answers right in front of me but I just couldn’t find a way to reach them no matter how much I tried. Every single time I thought He was withholding when in fact, His holding back was exactly what I needed.

It was all part of the Plan. I was always supposed to struggle and help myself find a way. I was always supposed to fall, because the test was never the fall. The test was always how I was going to pick myself back up and still remain steadfast.

I cannot tell you what to takeaway from this because the truth is, I myself do not know where this tangent went. I felt a desire to write and as promised, I am acting upon the (good) desires as they present themselves for the next minute isn’t promised and I no longer want to live a life filled with unsaid words and feelings lingering at the tip of my tongue. But, I digress. Everything I said today can be perfectly summarised into this one short bit of wisdom:

Sometimes He gives while depriving you,
and sometimes He deprives you in giving.

Shaykh Ibn Ata’Allah Al-Askandari, Kitab Al-Hikam [Hikam 83]

May we see the wisdom He has placed in our struggles and may we grow to become living embodiments of His Word. May all our days be blessed with His Light, but most importantly, may we become the light.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Ayesha, what a beautiful reflection, at one point you lost me- and yourself! But I think these are such important reminders, things we do all the time for others in our care that we love and we never think, to step back and see how this is in perfect context to our lives and our relationship with Allah, who loves us more than our parents- the only scale of love we can understand. May Allah grant you wisdom beyond your years, I hope you will continue to share these moments with us.

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Ayesha Khanom

Sometimes a teacher, sometimes a student, but mostly caffeinated. This blog is a terrible attempt at writing out my thoughts - think of it as the 'comments, complaints, and suggestions' section of my brain. Nevertheless, I hope that some of these words will find a place in your heart and will stay with you even when I do not. If you'd like to get in touch, send me a message on Instagram or leave a comment on one of these posts and I'll get back to you at the best possible time.

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