There’s a difference between critical self analysis and analytical ego-stroking. I’ve noticed that most online quizzes only fit into the latter category. All results are good. You are awesome. You are a leader or a protector or a bright sparkly light in the human cosmos. Post these results on your homepage.
Are there any online quizzes that tell you that you are not awesome? That you maybe even suck? That you’re a lazy, self-satisfied machine who lives their life with blinders on?
There’s a difference between critical self-analysis and just criticism though. There should be a quiz that tells you what your failings are, gently, and then advises you on how to correct them. Basically, the quiz should say, you’re a good person in spite of letting your personality and your spirituality slip. You need to stop thinking that you are where it’s at and you’ve reached the zenith of personal development. Life is a journey, personality is a matter of evolution, and any time you’ve stopped going forward is a time when you’re making no progress. Any time that you’re not making progress is a time when you could be stagnating. Stagnating is one step away from going backwards.
I’ve missed Fajr three times this week. I was stagnating for a bit, and now I’m going backwards. I have so little Taqwa that I took the alarm clock this morning, turned it off and went to sleep with it in my hands. If I were, spiritually speaking, where I was just a few weeks ago, this wouldn’t have happened. And if, a few weeks ago, I had not stopped moving forward, I would not have been stagnating then so I could be regressing now- the regression being, not missing fajr, but missing Fajr and not feeling sorry. That’s the horrifying part. Everyone is a sinner, but to sin without regret… well… that’s a different matter altogether.
There has never been a single month in my life where I didn’t miss a Fajr, but to not feel the pangs of sincere regret in the morning is a definite backsliding. If I were to try and place my Fajr performance of now on a timeline of spiritual growth, I’d say I’ve gone back to being 19 again. At that age I was just struggling to pray five times a day, and I can remember making myself a chart that first month, just to see how many prayers I was actually missing. I remember that in the first month there were more than 20. They weren’t all Fajr. And I hadn’t felt sorry, only vaguely aware of them.
When I think of where I’ve been as compared to where I am now, it scares me. At my spiritual highest I look forward to praying. Where I am now, it has become something I have to get out of the way before I move on to other things, Astaghfirullah. This is the way complacency works. You stop. You rest. You lean back, and sometimes you sit down even though it had taken you months to get on your feet.
And yet, I can’t beat myself up too badly. Maybe this is because I’ve taken enough quizzes that tell me how awesome I am in spite of this. Or maybe it’s because I prefer to think solution-oriented thoughts. Yes, I am lame, spiritually substandard, lazy, and ought to be ashamed of my behavior. And yes, I will fix this. What’s my plan?
Step One: Rebuild Taqwa. With enough Taqwa you get up for prayer even if you’re dying, because you are sincerely genuinely aware of how great your debt of gratitude is. Your death is always on your mind, not because you’re depressive or fatalistic, but because you know that death is the end of your opportunity to prove yourself worthy of God’s Mercy, and so you hurry up and work faster.
Step Two: Get to bed earlier. Until I have enough Taqwa to pop out of bed like bread from an overly-enthusiastic toaster, being tired only makes things more difficult. So I am making a new rule for myself. If I’m not in bed by 2 am, then I am officially an idiot. Well, moreso than usual…
Step Three: Figure out what the heck is wrong with the alarm clock! The high-powered, air-raid siren alarm hasn’t been working for the last few days, and we’ve been using the namby-pamby portable travel alarm since then- the quiet, little one that I can turn off in my sleep and then cuddle up with like an ugly, rectangular teddy-bear.
There. That’s my plan. It’s 1:40 already so I need to get moving. Please remember me in your duas. I suck.