Monthly Archives: September 2019

Feeling the Burn

Assalaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

I am just starting to take exercise a bit more seriously again in my life and there is a point where you are lifting weights or indeed doing any exercise where your muscles start to burn, it hurts and it is not pleasant.

Your instincts are to quit that particular activity, take a break or do something else at least, anything else but if you know anything about how muscles and your body as a total system works you know this is the time not to quit, this is the time to carry on for as long as you can.

At that point your body is going to be getting signals to start convert fat to burn, your muscles are gaining the most use and will correspondingly get their best work out, you’re at the point where you are starting to gain real solid benefits from your exercise.

It’s not that doing less than this isn’t beneficial, it’s just a whole lot less effective then carrying on even when hurting and feeling the burn.

Likewise there are times when we attempt to strengthen our spiritual, emotional or mental state or preferably all three where we suffer, we feel in pain or at least massive discomfort and it is hard to see the benefits of carrying on in that moment, so easy to quit, or at least find something else which benefits us in a lesser way but at least doesn’t hurt so much.

But these are not the times to quit, these are the times to push through, strengthen our emaan, our character, our minds and through momentary suffering and sacrifice become a better person on the other side.

There are parts of you and me, disgustingly fat slothful parts of our minds and character which desperately need a workout or burning out entirely to clear space for more productive growth and habits in our lives.

I and and I know many people reading this are physically unhealthy in the damage done to our bodies through years of neglect and ill-treatment, we do need to feel that burn to strengthen our physical bodies, our vessels that Allah has given us as a trust here on this earth.

But how many of us are equally guilty of doing little or maybe only just enough to sharpen our intellect, to build true meaningful character or to make our emaan a shining light?

Discipline begets discipline, the more we strengthen one aspect of our lives, the easier it is to bring that discipline in elsewhere to transform ourselves into the best versions we can be.

Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,

Gingerbeardman

Scraped Clean / Scraped Bare

Assalaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu my few readers,

I am writing this primarily for myself, few people come to this blog anymore, well even fewer than before and that’s okay, this is being written mostly for my own benefit, to get my thoughts in order, set them down so I can read this later in life and if I help others sort out the mess in their own heads that is a bonus.

It’s been over a year since I semi-retired from this blog,  as well as most of my da’wah activities and events and withdrew myself somewhat from life to reflect and think about where I am going, how I am moving forward or not in life.

Gingerbeardman - I’m Not Running Away But…
Gingerbeardman – I’m Not Running Away But…

I did at the time write a long ish post on the matter, linked in the pic here –>

Since then it’s been been dark but interesting times as I’ve gone through every section of my life, evaluated it and ruthlessly thrown out everything which was not True or didn’t bring any genuine benefit to me.

But on the truth, it’s so often the case that we’re all lies, deceptions, built upon half truths, built upon misconceptions and we rarely truly do anything of real value  because we are not willing to admit how much of that surface stuff and even a lot of the under surface stuff is just false facing for others and more often to ourselves.

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.
Quran translation, Surah An-Nisa, 4:135

So I’ve scrapped, pulled, cut and at times ripped mask after mask away to see the person within. Peeling back layer after layer to see new layers of lies underneath because Allah knows all this other stuff was not true and how much I was harming myself and being unable to help others around me because of the years of crap built up which just wasn’t me and wasn’t true.

It’s also been a painful time, lying is always wrong but I have found the hardest lies to admit to are the ones we tell ourselves. Some of them really didn’t want to go, they seemed a part of me and in a way they were, they’re comforting but anything not true had to go.

So I told myself I was a da’ee, a caller to Allah and that this may compensate for my shortcomings in other areas of the deen. Now when I look back, I’ve examined my actions truly and deeply so much of it was riya, showing off either at the time or I would destroy my deeds later by talking about them to draw attention to myself, or allow others to do so on my behalf and big me up in a way which was not at all justified.

These stories we tell ourselves and tell others are how we interact with the world, but that doesn’t make them true or useful and they can often be the barrier holding us back from doing anything meaningful.

I told myself I was morally a good man, but much of the good I did I did out of an expectation that others would behave likewise towards me, it was selfish and often self destructive emotionally when it was not reciprocated, causing me to lash out and hurt others which in turn I think showed people at times on some level my good deeds lacked sincerity.

How often can we say we truly do a good deed just for the sake of seeking the reward of Allah and not in seeking reward or praise from others? In that I would also include self-praise, self-deception, fooling ourselves, flattering and fattening up our egos which is one of the most long term damaging forms of showing off.

In failing to be a ‘good man’ I also admit I was also not much of a man, falling short in my obligations to myself, my family and my community. I am not a good man, or much of a man at all, and I am okay with that because acknowledging that is the first step to changing and learning what manhood really is again then living that.

I am having to slow things down for a time, I have to reexamine every deed I do now to see if I am genuine or not,  then correct my intention and if I cannot then don’t do it because there is no reward in this action.

 

Now for the last couple of months after what has seemed like an age of effort I finally feel I’ve hit bedrock, the real me below all the other crap and hitting rock bottom is actually not such a bad place to be if you’ve prepared for it and aimed for it deliberately and there is a purity of vision, a simplicity that has it’s own beauty and attraction.

I can also with out all the fluff in the way see the hurt and damaged parts of myself I need to fix, and more easily see negligence and even malice that caused or still causes me that hurt and I have become much less tolerant of it.

I am cold, naked and vulnerable, it’s kinda uncomfortable but it is the real me. Being uncomfortable is valuable, it tells us something is off, we shouldn’t be avoiding such feelings or smothering them down but embracing them, contemplating them and finding out how to change ourselves to make sure we’re not uncomfortable with that aspect of ourselves in the future because we’ll have achieved permanent change.

An easy example of this is my physical health, my body itself is not just a bit out as I would convince myself previously for many years. I am not just fat, I am technically in the obese range, I am a fat man’s fatty. I have to lean forward to see my toes.

I was gifted with a frame which allowed for physical strength, fought my way through school, played rugby but I have done nothing since, I am not strong or tough and the inner impression of who I was was off, way off with who I actually was in reality.

I absolutely should feel that is wrong, it’s uncomfortable knowing I’ve let things go so far, so do I allow myself to push such feelings down, go for good quick emotional highs with time with others, or food or escape in a book, documentary or computer game or do I get out walking, do some jogging on the spot or some weights?

I am not who I should be. I know now given I’m in my early forties I will never be the man I could have been but now I must concentrate on being the best man I can be from here on out.

For those who know me personally I may seem withdrawn but that is because all the other stuff I did or said was not me and now I am ready to start growing again in a more productive way.

This time without all the lies, to others and to myself.

I am going to try to write more, on this blog and elsewhere to document my growth and it is this potential growth that allows me to see my failures, my product of past lies and see a way forward, that I am going to be able to choose a different path this time if I keep myself spiritually, emotionally and mentally strong.

Assalaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

Gingerbeardman