Updated: Aug 21, 2021
“What does family mean to you?” That’s what a second grader once asked me. It’s funny how that question still rattles inside my head to this day. I’m 15 and the question of “What does a family mean to you?” asked by a second grader made me speechless. Not because I was astonished by how deep the question the kid was asking was but rather because no one had asked me such a question before. I believe part of the reason is that no one bothered to ask me because they, like me, never thought about it.
The boy asked that question as if he didn’t know either and was hoping I would give him an answer. The look in his eyes was the same look I once gave my father whenever I asked him “If I were the reason for your good luck, would you love me more?”. He had always then answered with “My daughter, if you were the reason for my bad luck I would still have given you my entire heart out and just for you because that is what you mean to me.” My father without any hesitation, always knew what to say. I constantly looked up to him as my role model in life, hoping to become wise and brave like him some day. In Sha Allah.
Looking back at the question the boy had asked and my father’s answer, only then do I begin to configure an answer for myself. So what does family mean to me, I ask myself. Is it love, pain, happiness? This is what I came up with. Family is your life. Family is and can be everything but it can never be hated. No matter how much pain and suffering you go through, you can never truly hate your family. Allah (SWT) is the one that created you and your family. He is the one that gave you that blessing. We always have to remember to be grateful for our family no matter how hard life gets. Sure, family can be a headache. I can most certainly agree, having brothers that do nothing but annoy me all day, it gets overwhelming and it even gets to the point where we fight constantly but that is what makes a family a family. Is it really called a family if you don’t go through obstacles and try to overcome them? The different emotions that you and your family go through together creates a bond that can never be broken. It’s a part of life.
Look at it like this, in movies or in real life, you always see orphans wanting to find their birth parents. Well, the reasoning is that they still care about their actual family. Even if all they have is anger towards them for whatever reason they decided to give them up for adoption. They still care enough to try to find them and wonder about them. Trying to seek an answer to their curiosity and doubts for what? For the fact that they still have a part of them caring about their family but they won’t show it. We all have that soft side when it comes to our family even if it’s hard to accept it. We’re all humans and God created us to go through hardships so we learn to overcome them in order to become a better person. Your family may seem like a complete annoyance but they could be the reason why you’ll be so successful in the future someday. Keep that in mind.
Take my story as a last example. 8th grade wasn’t easy for me. It was the lowest point of my life. It was when I first began thinking about ending my life. Why? You guessed it because of family. It’s crazy to imagine how a small kid grows up dreaming about being something someday to now turning into someone who has no desire to live. I never felt like I belonged anywhere and no matter how hard I tried to create a different beginning for myself, it all still had the same ending with me being miserable. It hurt me and I blamed my parents for it. I could never please my parents in the way they wanted. Grades weren’t enough for them to say they were happy. They drove me completely insane to the point where I would put myself in danger so many times. It wasn’t easy to live up to the high expectations of my parents. All I ever wanted was just to see them proud of something I have accomplished but how could I expect such a thing when they never expressed their own love like how American parents did on TV.
One thing that got me through 8th grade is when I got a paper during Ramadan from a friend saying “Ramadan Kareem” and in the back, she wrote “Allah (SWT) doesn’t give us something we cannot handle, and with all hardships comes with ease.” That is the one sentence that helped me get through my 8th-grade year. After many days soaking in that one sentence, I realized that I had to stop comparing my family and my life to others. It took a while for me to come to the conclusion that I had to stop running away from my fears and obstacles that I felt I couldn’t overcome. Running away from my fears meant I was running away from my deen. My heart was hurting so much because I had forgotten what my purpose in life was. The worldly things overpowered the thoughts and results of my akhira.
If I could tell anyone the one thing I learned during that year, it would be to put your religion first. Before encountering any obstacles, remember Allah is there to help and protect you. Even if you feel lost, run and pray to your Lord. He will always be there to listen to you. Being patient is a big part in overcoming any obstacles in life. Not everything will be easy for you. It might take years but if you have patience the end results are memorable.
Despite everything, I still love my family. They might be the reason I go through a lot but they are also the reason for the person that I am today. All the things we go through make us stronger as a person. Remember life isn’t easy for everyone. We all are going or already have gone through a lot but we have to keep moving forward because we should create a good akhira for ourselves. Now that you heard my story, tell me, what does family mean to you?