My Non-negotiables

Dear God,⁣

When I think back to my younger years, I remember a young man with passion with ideals, but unable to bring much into fruition.⁣


I was always overwhelmed by my faults. My many imperfections, GPA, salary, expectations placed upon me, and my mental health took a toll. I’d find myself wallowing in sorrow, playing video games for weeks on ends, or anything else I could find to distract myself.⁣

I’m not sure when it all changed. It was probably around when I became Muslim, or maybe it was slightly before I decided to study English Literature. Still, I remember when I first decided to have non-negotiables in my life.⁣

It just happened.⁣

I realized that I couldn’t function at my best if I didn’t take that one hour drive every week to the beach and play volleyball.⁣

I realized that I wasn’t in my best state of mind if I went a few days without reading a book (to this day, when I’m stressed, it’s always best for me to take a moment and read something).⁣

When I became Muslim, I realized I wasn’t happy if I wasn’t learning more, absorbing theology, jurisprudence, and language.⁣

Then came marriage, and the comments began rolling in.⁣

“Oh, good luck. You’ll have to stop all of that now.”⁣

“You won’t have much time for __”⁣

“You can’t really seek knowledge when married,”⁣

Like the young person I was, I let those words seep into me. I ceased being myself. I even started disliking the people around me.⁣

Then came a child, and over the past year, I’ve also had some of the most challenging events ever occur to me.⁣

Earlier this year, my therapist had to remind me that I desperately needed to take care of myself. That I need to have non-negotiables, else I’ll be useless to everyone around me. Most of all, I’ll be unhappy.⁣

So here I am. A man molded by the trials that you’ve placed me through. And I pray that even if you bless me with ten children, I hope you always place blessings in my time to serve my family. Most importantly, I pray I stick to my non-negotiables that help me come closer to the believer I hope to be.⁣

A believer that enters the Paradise that you’ve made for us.⁣

Your servant,⁣
Arthur K. Richards

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