Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, "A believer is not stung twice (by something) out of one and the same hole." (Sahih Bukhari)
I've been thinking about this piece for a while. A lot has happened in the past few weeks that remind me of this hadith and prompt me to think about how it applies to situations in my life and the learning I can take from it.
People can be really bad sometimes. Whether it's a matter of perspective or we consider their actual intention is often irrelevant. If their actions or words result in harm or upset, then they're really just bad- bad for us, bad to be around, a bad influence, bad to be associated with, bad for our emotional state.
I like to think that I'm a genuine person and that people consider me to be genuine, truthful, decent- I'm not perfect, of course, and I wont be everyone's 'cup of tea'. I'd still like to think that's a matter of personality and preference rather than there being something outrageously wrong or bad with me. But some people are not so decent. People lie, sometimes to the extent that they make up things about themselves and their life- for reasons I can't understand- and portray themselves to be something they're not. Discovering someone you've considered to be a friend is a liar and is deceptive is a horrible feeling. And because that person is a friend we may find ourselves making excuses for their behaviour and giving them passes where they aren't due, especially if any attempt to check them on their actions ends in pointless exchanges filled with excuses and twisted narratives. This is where I find myself with someone who I've considered a friend, someone who I became close with because of our apparent similarities and experiences- but what I thought was true about our similarities and experiences could be completely false so I'm left wondering who this person really is and if our friendship even has a foundation at all.
Then you have people who are actually decent, genuine, honest and well intended, but their circumstances still make them bad, or at least bad for us. Sometimes we're fortunate enough to meet people we can build strong connections with, and it's not unusual for us to create stronger and more immediate connections when we're in a state of need. The catch, though, is when that need is no longer there or when the connection itself has fulfilled that need and so the value placed on that connection starts to diminish. The person least in need is going to be the one to get stung when the other person has got what they needed from them.
In both of these situations the desire to help other people ends up becoming our downfall. We don't see the warning signs. We don't make selfish choices- but they do. We get stung because we have sympathy for or hope in other people even when they're bad for us. Maybe we should start being more selfish. Maybe we shouldn't give so much- give so much time, so much benefit of the doubt, so much trust. Most importantly, we need to learn from our mistakes and from our own experiences and the experiences of others. We need to make our decisions and build relationships with others based on the guidance of Allah and His Messenger, salallahu alayhi wa salam. We have to identify the cause of the sting and avoid it happening again, and remember, everything is the Qadr of Allah, and learning from these experiences is an intentional part of life.