Your Intention is the Key to Your Contentment
I wanted to remind you about a beautiful saying in Islam that has helped me many times to find comfort and ease. It is the beautiful words of Fi'Sabilillah (In the Way of God). Have you ever noticed that sometimes you do things for others and may not get the appreciation that you deserve? Have you ever felt that being a wife and mother can test your will so much that it seems you are giving all the time and not receiving a lot in return? When we do something big, we all love the occasional pat on the back and someone telling us we did a great job. But if you had to wait for that to happen, half of the time you would be sorely disappointed and the other half, you would be plain frustrated! I remember many times when I felt as if no one appreciated my efforts or even said a much-needed thank you. It left me despondent.
Time and time again, I felt like I was giving so much to my family, my friends, and society, that life seemed unfair. I began to believe that when you're nice, you give more than you ever get in return. I even contemplated giving less to avoid hurt, but alhumdulillah my hubby noticed my distress and said to me,
"When you do anything for others, you should do it 'Fi Sabilillah' with the sole intention of pleasing Allah and not for the gratitude from others."
At first, I didn't think much of his words, I had heard it before but didn't know how to implement it in my life. I thought it made sense, but of course our 'nafs' (ego) hunger for appeasement and approval from others, so I tried it a few times but didn't keep to it. Then I started to notice that the times I forgot to make my intention for Allah, I would feel hurt by the lack of gratitude once again, but when I did remember to say Fi Sabilillah, I would find peace in my heart and feel happy to give again. Nowadays it has become my sole intention and is contentment enough for me.
Motherhood is a perfect example of having moments of resentment and feeling undervalued. When I have those days where hubby is late again and one child needs a diaper change, the other is calling from the potty, two are fighting, the phone is ringing and the food on the stove all need to be seen to simultaneously, I feel discouraged. I can either lose control and cry at the unfairness of it all, or take a moment and deal with it one at a time, all the while knowing that all this is 'Fi Sabilillah' and my reward is with Him SWT.
To develop this way of thinking, one will need patience, faith, and trust in Allah, because the desire to be appreciated is part of our human nature. You will need to remind yourself that Allah's Reward is the best reward and that our struggles in this world are part of why we are here. Another invaluable way to deal with hardship is to look at those below you and think of someone worse off than you. This will make your problem seem less distressing. I know it's easier said than done, but it works, and you won't need to look too far to find someone living in poverty, who has some handicap or going through a worse hardship than you. The Prophet SAW said,
“Look at those below you, and don’t look at those above you–for this is better.” (Muslim, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Maja).
Setting my intention to please Allah only and looking at those worse off than myself, has helped me attain peace and comfort during difficult times. So try it the next time you contemplate helping someone, such as visiting a sick person, consoling someone, buying a gift for a friend, helping a needy family, seeing to your hubby and children's needs, and say 'Fi Sabilillah' with all your heart. If your intentions are pure and you apply it as a part of your life, you will notice your heart fill with contentment inshAllah.