Had another one of those light-bulb moments today in the middle of one of the most frantic work days I’ve had this year. Half way through answering non-stop phones, visitors turning up, running down to the local high street where our team was running a recycling awareness event to drop off tables, stationary, goody bags and giant green wheelie bins (which I had to drag over there one by one because the porters took one look and went AWOL) I was called to reception to speak to a member of the public. It was an elderly disabled gentleman with his disabled son who wanted to see someone from the Mayor’s office. The issue was just a parking fine, we deal with so many serious issues every day that it didn’t feel important, yet this man sat next to me and cried over a parking ticket. He explained that he was 86 and had arthritis, his wife had arthritis and was losing her sight and that he had been passed round various offices all day. He didn’t have the money for this fine, (which it turns out was wrongly charged by an overzealous jobs-worth) and the anxiety was making he and his wife ill. I took details of his problem and promised to do what I could.
I then rushed out to pray my zoher late as usual. I came back to my desk calmer than I’d been all day to start work on his enquiry. Maybe because I was in a different state of mind I could look at this gentleman’s predicament differently. He had apologised for crying, saying that when he was young things didn’t bother him, but now everything made him so unbearably anxious. He was young once, he had the same carefree attitude that young people are blessed with. Where had he ended up? Ill, disabled, poor and feeling helpless. So many of my whinges felt insignificant at that moment and I am glad they still do. I have been sulking because I have to wear glasses again after ten years, I felt like a plain teenager again. But this man didn’t care how I looked, he was grateful because someone had listened. I’ve been annoyed because my husband wants to go to Pakistan for his brothers wedding – everyone would be in their brightest, loudest best and I’ll be in a plain old abaya, because I can’t afford the fashionable ones.
In that moment after my meeting with this man, then with Allah (SWT) and after a little reflection, I realised that the way I looked and my hang-ups about it just did not matter. People will not love me for the way I look but they will love me if I shower my love and affection on them, if I serve and comfort them, if I am sincere and caring in my dealings with them. My better half won’t love me more if I wear more make-up and trendier clothes but he will if I hold his hand and say a kind word and look him in the eyes and smile my deepest smile, the one that comes from your heart and lights up your eyes (and the room) and dazzles people.
The elderly gentleman taught me a lesson today. It’s hard to be old, Allah (SWT) tests and forgives us with the trial of old age; he reminded me we will not always be so robust and invincible. But I also thought so many in his position are dignified and have so much peace – why? Because of the faith that lives in them, that gives them hope and holds out a beautiful promise to them if they are patient just a little longer. I felt good today about myself as I am and about my beautiful faith alhamdulillah. I pray that Allah (SWT) bestows his hidayah (guidance) on others in the old gentleman’s situation insh’Allah.
I am still going to try and make myself one mad funky abaya for that wedding though.
Happy Jumah all.