Unraveling the Conundrums of the Workaholic

Aug 19, 2016 | Sufism


elephant-on-ballI had a rare moment with my father last week. At 94, he relayed to me his regret of having worked so many hours and not being there for his children. “Your mother raised you. I wasn’t there for any of it. If I could do it over, I wouldn’t work so much. I’d spend more time with you.”

Why was he telling me this? Because I have followed in his footsteps. I’m marching, or more like running, to the beat of the workaholic drummer. So, I decided to open up for some self-exploration and have a heart-to-heart with God.

If you struggle with imbalance between work and ease, I hope sharing my process helps you find more peace and balance within yourself…

What is happening? Can’t I be at ease without doing? I can stay in remembrance meditation and prayer all day and love it! But I have constructed a life for myself where I have so much to do, and eventually I’ve got to get busy.

After all, are we not supposed to be in service? Do we not have a purpose to fulfill?

Our guide, Sidi, used to advise us to be busy like the bees, and to not waste our time. I certainly don’t want to be lazy or fill my mind with trash.

But what about play? Allah made the animals who show us how to play. What about joy? Our hearts are created to be filled with joy when we take in the beauty of a sunset or a rainbow or fields of wildflowers or countless other works of art He has created to remind us of Him. And what about love? Isn’t that ultimately what we’re here for?

How do we balance being busy and fulfilling purpose with play, joy and love? Here are some things I have found in my personal reflections:

  • For one, there is the fear of not having enough – a lack of trust in Allah’s provision. Yet, Allah sets our provision before we come to earth. Doesn’t it make sense that if Allah brings us here to walk a certain path, to learn certain lessons and fulfill certain purposes, then He would make available for us everything we need to complete what we’re here for? Of course. And He reminds us of this in the Qur’an and all the holy books.
  • Secondly, there is the belief of unworthiness. If I work really hard, maybe I will be enough to deserve what I need to survive. But the value I create with my work is not tied to my personal worthiness. I can be in service of Allah in whatever way He calls me to be, and I can trust in the provision He has for me which has been predetermined.

    While I want my actions to be pleasing to Allah, He has put all His attributes in me and this does not change. My own human perceptions of worthiness cannot comprehend the value of the attributes of Allah, and nothing I do can make me greater than that – or less than.

  • Thirdly, what would happen if I slowed down long enough to let the dust settle? Would I be seen? And if so, would I be appreciated? Or would I be criticized or ridiculed or persecuted for not doing it right or good enough, or going against the grains of the mainstream? Dare I stop moving long enough to find out?

    What if I’m successful? Success would certainly draw negative attention, especially if I develop a reputation I can’t maintain.

    I’d better quickly call on the subconscious saboteur to rescue me from this conundrum.

    I’d better take on another project so I have another pile of work to hide behind. Or spend more money so I have a pile of debt to hide behind. Or eat more food so I have another layer of fat to hide behind…

    If I’m not seen, I can’t fall short of expectations or be judged or known as a failure – the failure I fear myself to be.

Ya Allah, Ya Rahim – Oh Beloved God, Most Merciful! I turn to you for help. I sit before you now in stillness and allow myself and all my actions to be seen and witnessed by You, Al-Basir (the All-Seeing), Ash-Shahid (the Witness). You know everything I do, and You know what You want for me.

Please release me from the fears of self-importance and separation from You. Help me to remember You, and to be special for You and only You – no other. I am not a product of my work, but of Your creation and Your beautiful qualities. I am made by Your hand and not my own. Help me to know and honor this.

Thank You for the life You have given me. Thank You for bringing me to know of Your love for me.

If you can relate to any part of this article, I invite you to call on Allah and sit quietly before Him. Allow yourself to be seen and witnessed by Him, the One Who sees and knows you better than you see and know yourself, and loves you unconditionally. Allow the piles you hide behind to fall away, and let His love pour into you. Breathe and receive with gratitude.

I hope you have found this beneficial.

With love and gratitude and prayers for fulfillment, joy, love and harmony,

Mastura Graugnard on behalf of all your friends and family at UOS