Ever feel like you had loads of big ambitions and don't know where to start? How about when you try to take on so many different things that you are overwhelmed by them all? Of course, there are always people who take on many things and believe they can do them all, and more. This all is relative to a person's ability and, more importantly, Allah's Will. However, what I have learned over the years is that people who try to climb every mountain, or a whole load of very big mountains, end up leaving a trail of broken promises and unfinished plans behind them. There is perfect truth in the sayings, "Something's got to give," and "Everything has a price." In the life of a believer, it must never cost them their deen.
I have made a point to be real with the people around me, my children, and myself. For example, if my children ask me to do a certain activity or make something, I think about the value or benefit it will have. I consider if it will please Allah, if it will draw us closer to Him, enhance our understanding, or improve our practice of Islam. Is it an attraction to, or a detraction from, Allah? If it is a healthy, beneficial activity, I will tell them what the chances are of us doing it and what variables (particular circumstances) need to be in place for it to happen. Sometimes is is as simple as them finishing their school work in good time, sometimes is is dependent on me finishing something or us completing chores. Sometimes it will require us to wait until we've gotten the things we need to do it. Sometimes it is something that simply doesn't draw us closer to Allah or benefit us enough to be worth it and then I say no, citing my reasons.
With friends, I may say it depends on my resources or my ability. Basically, I tell others that I will do what they want IF it isn't a distraction from Allah, IF Allah wills it, and IF I have what is needed for it. In all cases, in the matter of a few seconds I assess the value of the task and it's price in my life and then make a decision.
When it comes to bigger things, I consider that if I died today, would I have been focusing on the right things? At least, now, I can say that I am actively focusing on the betterment of my deen, mashaa'Allah. My school is for my deen, not any other purpose, mashaa'Allah. My methods of child-raising are for Allah's pleasure in us all, inshaa'Allah. My care of my family and lifestyle are structured to adhere to Islam as well as possible, bi ithn Illah. Even my future plans are all to increase my emaan, tawakkal, and taqwa and that of my children, inshaa'Allah. I'm not doing wonderfully, but al hamdul'Illah, I can live with it and it is a seed to grow from, bi ithn Illah.
When I went to college a few years ago, it was to learn about education and how to raise and teach my children well, inshaa'Allah. However, when it came to me transferring to university to complete my teaching degree, I stopped. Not because it was too hard, but because it wasn't focusing on the right things. It wasn't for the improvement of my deen and it wouldn't help me fulfill my duties to Allah and my family. It would have been an obstacle - a mountain I was not willing to climb.
When you are considering your life, your goals, your future plans think about the various mountains around you. Then assess which mountains you should climb.
- If it takes you away from your primary purpose of living to worship Allah, say goodbye.
- If it distracts you from what's important in the Eyes of Allah and His Messenger (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam), say goodbye.
- If it keeps you so busy, you cannot find dedicated time every day to learn and grow in Islam and understand and memorize Quran, say goodbye.
- If it fills your mind or life with fitna, say goodbye.
- It it is for worldly gain, at the expense of fulfilling your obligations to your family and the Ummah, say goodbye.
We take on things that complicate our lives and distract us from our purpose in this life: worship of Allah.
Don't climb every mountain; look at the mountains whose peaks get you closest to Allah and set your sights on those. All the other mountains will become, just as we are told in the Qur'an, like fluffy wool, unable to raise you to any beautiful heights.