Wednesday, October 5, 2011

For the Love of the Gift


We all love gifts. We love the blessings that beautify our lives. We love our children, our spouses, our parents, our friends. We love our youth and we love our health. We love our homes, our cars, our money, our beauty. But what happens when a gift becomes more than just a gift? What happens when a want becomes a need, a favor becomes a dependency? What happens when a gift is no longer only that?
What is a gift? A gift is something that did not come from us. A gift is given-and can be taken. We are not the original owners of a gift. A gift is also not necessary for our survival. It comes and goes. We want and love to receive gifts-but they are not necessary to our existence. We don't depend on them. We don't live to receive them and do not die if we don't. They are not our air or our food. But we love them. Who does not love a gift? Who does not love to receive many gifts? And we ask Al Kareem (The Most Generous) to never deprive us of His gifts. Yet, a gift is still not where we place our dependencies, nor do we die without them.
Remember that there are two places to hold something: in the hand or in the heart. Where do we hold a gift? A gift is not held in the heart. It is held in the hand. So when the gift is taken, the loss creates pain to the hand-but not to the heart. And anyone who has lived long enough in this life knows that the pain of the hand is not like the pain of the heart. The pain of the heart is to lose an object of attachment, addiction, dependency. That pain is like no other pain. It's not normal pain. And that pain is how we will know we just lost an object of attachment-a gift that was held in the wrong place.
The pain of the hand is also pain-but different.  So different. The pain of the hand is to lose, but not something we are dependent upon. When a gift is taken out of the hand-or never given at all-we will feel the normal human pain of loss. We will grieve. We will cry. But the pain is only in the hand; our heart remains whole and beating. This is because the heart is only for God.
And God alone.
If we examine the things in our lives that cause us most pain, we can start to pinpoint which gifts have been stored in the wrong place. If not being able to get married, be with the person we want, have a child, find a job, look a certain way, get a degree, or reach a certain status has consumed us, we need to make a change. We need to shift where the gift is being stored; we need to move the gift out of our heart and back to our hand where it belongs.
We can love these things. It's human to love. And it's human to want the gifts we love. But our problem begins when we put the gift in our heart, and God in our hand. Ironically, we believe that we can live without God-but if we were to lose a gift, we crumble and can't go on.
As a result, we can easily put God aside, but our heart cannot live without the gift. In fact, we can even put God aside for the sake of the gift. So it becomes easy for us to delay or miss a prayer, but just don't deprive me of my work meeting, my movie, my outing, my shopping, my class, my party, my basketball game. It's easy to take interest baring loans or sell alcohol, just don't deprive me of my profit margin and prestigious career. Just don't deprive me of my brand new car, and over-the-top home. It's easy to have a haram relationship or date, but just don't deprive me of the one I 'love'. It's easy to take off, or not wear hijab-just don't deprive me of my beauty, my looks, my marriage proposals, my image in front of people. It's easy to put aside the modesty that God says is beautiful, but don't deprive me of my skinny jeans-because society told me that's beauty.
This happens because the gift is in our heart, while Allah is in our hand. And what is in the hand can be put aside easily. What is in the heart, we cannot live without-and would sacrifice anything to have. But sooner or later we need to ask ourselves what it is that we really worship: The gift or the Giver? The beauty or the Source and Definition of Beauty? The provision or the Provider?
The creation or the Creator?
The tragedy of our choice is that we chain our necks with attachments, and then ask why we choke. We put aside our Real air, and then wonder why we can't breathe. We give up our only food, and then complain when we're dying of starvation.  After all, we stick the knife in our chest and then cry because it hurts. So much. But what we have done, we have done to ourselves.

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For the Love of the Gift

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