Brother Walid was frustrated that he had been in recovery for a number of years now, and with every progress he made, he still fell back into his unwanted sexual behaviors.
In a recent coaching call together, it finally hit him what had been missing in his recovery all along:
“I was frustrated because I can’t solve this… but that’s when it hit me, I thought I was the one that needed to do something, that it was only me. It all of a sudden made sense. I think this is it; this is what Allah’s trying to tell me this whole time that I have not submitted to Himself fully. That’s because I probably believe myself to be in a position of that arrogance and too proud to fully submit and accept that role.” – Br Walid.
Brother Walid did all the “right things,” but his trust and reliance was still on his own actions instead of relying on a Power greater than himself: Allah aza wa jal.
“Ultimately I realized, I believe I was just waiting for me to gain control again. But I never fully acknowledged that Allah was in control, and I never will be in control. My taubah wasn’t working because even though I didn’t believe I was in control, eventually I was looking to gain control later.” – Br. Walid.
The intention that drove brother Walid’s recovery work, whether that is having boundaries in place, setting up filters, working on his relationship issues, or even working on his core issues, was to gain control.
While these are key elements to establish and maintain sobriety, what was even more fundamental to his recovery was submission and surrender to Allah SWT. And that intention had been missing all along.
No matter how much brother Walid exerts his own willpower in his recovery from his unwanted sexual behaviors, the raw reality will remain the same for him and for all of us:
We will always be weak, needy slaves of Allah SWT. That is our nature. And Allah SWT is our Rabb and will always be in control. And that fundamental reality will never change.
Upon this realization, I asked brother Walid the grand question: Have you submitted?
While having the awareness of change is necessary, stepping through the door of taubah or turning back to Allah is even more important.
With some hesitation, brother Walid replied,
“I’m afraid of failure. What does it mean if I was to finally make that decision and try to fully submit and still go back to my behaviors?”
“Walid, you may have submitted, but you may have returned to a place of self-reliance and pushing Allah SWT out of the equation. When you fall, it’s an opportunity to be humble again. When you’re on your knees, you’re that much closer to prostrate. “
To truly perform the work of recovery, the humility, and poverty and need of Allah SWT has to be the base foundation that must be always there.
The work necessary to establish sobriety then becomes about recovering this zone consistently, where you acknowledge that you’re the slave, and Allah is the Master.
Whether you are placing boundaries, or making the key lifestyle changes, these acts in recovery are there to help you remember the brokenness, the poverty, and the dire need of Allah SWT.
Walking a path of recovery is making submission and surrender a moment by moment or daily reality, instead of a one time thing. The problem is that in the moment of forced submission, we are brought down to our knees and forced to surrender, but we do not continue surrendering.
What is missing is continuous slavehood and surrender.
And if that solid foundation is place, then the rest will be taken care of. That is the promise of Allah.
So I ask you the same question that I asked brother Walid: Have you submitted?
You may have felt that your willpower has repeatedly failed you, but if you put your trust in something greater than you, Allah SWT can lift you out of this situation in sha Allah.