Why does this keep on happening? Because there is a lesson I have yet to learn.

Last night I had to face the cold, hard truth that even though I certainly feel different after coming back from Hajj, I am still me.

I still have my weaknesses.

I still have my deficiencies.

I still have the same anxieties.

Week One after Hajj was pretty good, I would say. Work was not as crazy as I was dreading it would be. I was asked to give a talk about Islam at a church two days before the event (the previous speaker overbooked). I ultimately said yes because it was a friend who asked and also because I felt God was giving me an opportunity to work on something I had prayed for during Hajj, i.e. to be more confident and improve my public speaking. I did well, I can actually admit it. I didn’t even look at my last-minute notes!

So, I think I got comfortable with the idea that life was going to be oh-so-swell from here on out.

But then yesterday I was reminded that life – like spiritual states – comes with its ups and downs.

I’ve always been someone who internalizes things. But this time, I didn’t spend too much time rationalizing why I did what I did, like I normally would do.

Coming back from Hajj, I am more quick to realize that if there’s something wrong, I have to look internally first. And honestly, not even worry about the rest. The internal work itself is a lot on its own. I don’t have enough time nor is it my task to tackle the other side.

Nothing yesterday was much different than previous similar situations. But I knew immediately what the problem was. Okay, well, not immediately. I was reminded by something Mr. Rafia had said earlier in the evening. And when I woke up this morning earlier than I needed, as is my wont, I remembered something unrelated that I did many years ago — the thing that I can never seem to let go. Something that reminds me to humble myself when I start to think all high and mighty.

With those thoughts lingering in my head, I poured my heart into my journal and was then able to see finally where all this was coming from. I’m still carrying all that excess baggage from my childhood, making all kinds of perhaps unmerited associations, and taking them to be true without much interrogation.

I think I get it finally and understand where it fits in the larger narrative of my life.

I only hope and pray that I act differently the next time it happens, because I know that it inevitably will. It will keep on happening until I truly embody the lesson I need to learn. Because that’s how God answers prayers.

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