20 Ramadan 2018: Last Stop – Salvation

Through salvation our past is forgiven, our present is given meaning, and our future is secured – Rick Warren

For some reason this year, I needed to step back a bit and truly reflect on what it means to be in the last third of this blessed month, the third of salvation. What is salvation and why is it important?

In the Oxford Dictionary, salvation is the act of being saved from harm and all its related synonyms – infliction, loss, ruin, wrong, hurt, ill, etc. This implies that salvation is important because we are saved or protected from some harm. The question is though, what is this harm?

We can look at it from two perspectives driven by where the harm is; our lives or after-life.

We seek salvation from harm in this life by seeking that which benefits us be it knowledge and opportunities and build a shield of strength by working on our character and building our resilience. We seek salvation from harm in the after-life by seeking that which benefits us be it good deeds and belief, and build a shield of strength by thinking good of god and seeking his love.

I ask god to give us the energy, the blessings and positivity in these last 10 days to ask for:

  • knowledge and goodness in our lives throughout the next year and all our lives;
  • acceptance of the means and situations that strengthen our character and resilience in life;
  • energy and drive to do good especially in our own areas of talent and strengths; and
  • unwavering faith in god, his love and mercy.

It is with sadness that we realise that this month is now closer to the finish than the start, but we also thank god that we have reached this far and that there are still 9 or 10 days for making this the greatest Ramadan ever connecting with our deeper selves and the greatest of lords.

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19 Ramadan 2018: Falling Short of Our Own Expectations

Have high expectations and hopes for yourself, do your best, but do not debilitate yourself with meeting them – keep aspiring and celebrate the journey – Ramadan Living

I am a firm believer that we need to set high expectations for ourselves, for in these high expectations we see action comparable in hope and energy.

Having said that, what I have experienced is that sadness and de-motivation – very different to the fruits of acceptance – kick in once I realise that either what I set out to do is not going to materialise or it may be more difficult to get there. All of a sudden, these high expectations are a burden and “giving up” often replaces the high hopes and high energy.

I have also experienced this during this blessed month as I set out to do more good, pray more, remember more, learn more, but often, I fall short and often, because of other people, situations or circumstances out of my control. In falling short, I found myself discouraged and not accepting that even in falling short, there is wisdom, nurturing and growth.

I ask god to bless us all with the positivity to set high expectations for ourselves balanced with resilience and patience when we fall short of them, and we will fall short.

 

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18 Ramadan 2018: The Art of Waiting

Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. – Joyce Meyer

Waiting in life is inevitable. No matter how powerful or important one person is, we are always waiting ….

… for others;

… in lines;

… for things;

… for decisions;

… for storms;

… for reactions; etc.

It can be so frustrating especially when waiting involves interconnected decisions that hinge upon each other. However, while we try our best to reduce “wait times” and accept those that we cannot do anything about, the key is, as the quote above nicely points to, a positive attitude free of negative thoughts and assumptions that make waiting even tougher to handle.

Waiting does not necessarily amount to rejection, or being ignored or disrespected. Waiting is simply waiting for the right moment that god intends for us to uncover that which remains a mystery and god only delays things for good reasons that either help us appreciate that we are waiting for or prepare us for that which is about to be uncovered.

May god make waiting easy for us and may god, during this blessed month, help us see waiting for what it is, a journey to the right moment, the right place, and the right person.

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17 Ramadan 2018: What if you were told that … you will lose your family tomorrow?

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. – Desmond Tutu

As much as the last two posts challenged my thinking and approach in life when it comes to death and money, it was this post that really shook me up.

Typing the title was difficult enough, envisioning it was downright painful.

Our immediate families; spouses and kids. Our parents, grandparents and siblings. Our uncles and aunts. They are all part of who we were, who we are, and who we will grow to be.

Yes, we have frusrating moments and moments where we outright have no idea how we ended up related to each other be it in marriage or by blood, but I can tell you that imagining losing any of them is sadness and pain in one package.

I have experienced the loss of grandparents, uncle, aunt, and a parent … what I end up remembering is how they made me feel and how in dealing with them, they were unique to strangers in my life in the small or big way they supported me.

Going through this exercise, and nicely articulated in the above quote, I realised that seeing ourselves as gifts to our famlies as they are to us, we can learn to appreciate every call, experience, memory or even challenge we have with them as a gift to both of us that we learn to accept and one day, come to cherish.

We must learn more about them and their stories and despite what we think, realise that they are, and will be, part of us.

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16 Ramadan 2018: What if you were told that … you will lose all your money in a week?

More men are ruined by underestimating the value of money than by overestimating it. Let us, then, abandon the affectation of despising money, and frankly own its value. – Orison Swett Marden

Coaches often ask their clients what they would do tomorrow if money was no object, i.e. all our needs could be met through an abundance of resources and cash that we had access to. Their objective is to help us discover what and where our true passions lie and then go about doing it.

Inspired by my last post, I thought about our answers if we were told that we were going to lose all our money tomorrow or more practically, next week. We would not have access to any resources or cash that is key to our survival.

Going through this exercise myself, I realised the importance of planning for future self-sustenance but also the importance of charity, generously spending it ob our friends and family, and not denying ourselves the pleasures of life that come with spending money so that we may not have any regrets. What was really interesting though was how the power and the importance of connectivity with good friends and family was absolutely key.

Money should never be the object of our life be it in what we do and how we live, however, we must appreciate its’ importance. I found that answering this question brought me closer to accepting what god pre-ordains for me in terms of wealth but also how it should be spent and the role that we must take-up with family and friends for we just don’t know who, when and where our support is required; isn’t that what family is for?

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15 Ramadan 2018: What if you were told that … you didn’t have long to live?

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. – Steve Jobs

News of the death of a very young man in his 20s became viral in the last few days. It wasn’t his death as much as his reaction to death that touched people as he was diagnosed with Cancer two years prior when he publicly recorded an interview to talk about who he was before the diagnosis and what / who he was after the diagnosis.

We all have family, friends or even ourselves, who have had to face news about our eminent death due to disease. It is not an easy situation and although we all know that death is always around the corner and that we can never know when our time comes, something jolts you when you hear an “estimate” … of course these estimates are always wrong.

So the point of this post, with all honesty, what would you do if you were told you had x months to live? Would you seek avenues to cheat the disease? Would you just spend it with family? Would you travel the world? Would you volunteer? What do you really think you would do?

Then I would probably ask myself if that is the way I would want to spend my last days and work on making it my present reality, i.e. a life worth living and focusing on what Steve Jobs quotes as “what is truly important“.

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14 Ramadan 2018: Friends

Friendship is when people know all about you but like you anyway – Unknown

One of the greatest treasures that has been given to me are my friends. Some close, some far. Some family, some strangers. Some extreme givers, some more balanced.

I refer to them as treasures because like treasure, they are difficult to find, and when found, they are never taken for granted.

My friends have reminded me of god when I fell prey to life’s little nuisances. My friends have given me comfort when I felt like I could be the only one going through a tough time. My friends pitched in, in their own special

way, when I had no one else to have my back.

Overall I am thankful for my friends, my friends are means through which acceptance, in all its forms, materialises.

May god bless them, and all your friends, in this blessed month.

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13 Ramadan 2018: Repentance

Repentance means you change your mind so deeply that it changes you – Bruce Wilkinson

So far, during this blessed month, I have tried to work around and maneuver all the negatives that keep bringing us all down.

So I started out from relaxing and taking things as they go, accepting the realities, being positive, relying and thinking good of god who pre-ordained our destinies and I came to one place that I realised to be the core of everything.

I realised that we all do wrong and forget … yet when god does not immediately give us what we want, we never forget! It starts to consume our everyday and we nag, nag, and nag … and that is when I realised that acceptance is directly linked to repentance for all the things we did or said that we usually forget about either hurting ourselves or hurting others.

May god open for us all doors of repentance so we may truly accept things and not rush that which has been delayed, or delay that which has been rushed for us, and truly take things as they come.

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12 Ramadan 2018: Opportunity vs. Opportunism

I am an opportunist. When opportunities come, and I see them serving my grander goals in life, I take them. – Evangeline Lilly

In accepting our destiny and our lives … we must accept that the opportunities that come our way are the means through which we live our lives everyday as best as we can. However small the opportunity, if it benefits us, we must take it with an open heart accepting that there is underlying goodness.

Having said that, and what I have come to recognise very recently, is the concept of opportunism where we not only take up opportunities that come our way, but we see relationships and exchanges, especially with other people, as an existing or future opportunity.

The problem with this concept is that while it brings many benefits, it often makes people feel either used or empowers an equally committed opportunist keeping relationships at a superficial level. Some may not see anything wrong with that, the problem is that one will at some point face tough times in life and it is only those who do not see us as a “benefit” who will be by our side in what could possibly be the last days of our lives.

I say go for opportunity and let go of opportunism and if some of your friends or family are opportunists, recognise it and limit the effort you put in these relationships to the extent to which you can help as and when you can. Instead, I want to focus on the relationships that do matter that are not directly underpinned by benefits but are often superbly beneficial, both in life and after-life.

These relationships help make my life matter.

I don’t know what sort of world she will live in and I have no fixed opinions concerning how she should live in it. I only know that if she does not come to value what is true above what is useful, it will make little difference whether she lives at all. – Cormac McCarthy

So how do you recognise an opportunist?

  • They are highly communicative when they have a need
  • You don’t know much about their lives no matter how close you get
  • Often stay on the fence when it comes to sticky situations you are involved in
  • Often resistant to feedback or suggestions about how they live their lives
  • They don’t often share information and generally have a low level of altruism

The more important question then becomes, am I an opportunist?

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11 Ramadan 2018: Next Stop – Forgiveness

As we have just completed the first third of Ramadan – the third of mercy – I ask god to give us the strength to fast the rest of the days and approach the next third – the third of forgiveness – with an open heart and a clear mind.

I leave you with these two quotes that set the stage for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not a feeling – it’s a decision we make because we want to do what’s right before God. It’s a quality decision that won’t be easy and it may take time to get through the process, depending on the severity of the offense. – Joyce Meyer

Forgiveness isn’t just a blessing you deliver to another human being. Forgiveness is also a gift you give yourself. – Robin S. Sharma

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