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.
Arthur K. Richards