When I wanted to buy those gifts for our neighbors, I was very hesitant. Firstly I have never done anything like this plus when bought the items, including the gift wraps, I just didnt like them. The whole time that I was running around with my cart to find the matching sticker with the marching gift wrap while keeping a tab on my budget, I kept telling Allah that “You know I am not a crafty person. I have never done these in my life please accept whatever I can do. You created me so you know I am not good with crafts.”
I got home with the supplies, half heartedly, knowing that I did not buy them upto my taste. But I just didnt know where else to go because I was running out of time. I had to have them ready before the next morning and it was already evening. Anyway so I started to wrap the gifts with the “crappy” stickers and other supplies that I bought. When I finished making those packages, I was stunned. I have no idea how they looked so pretty. The sticker and the wraps were just so not pretty, nor were the items. They didnt look good per se. They didnt look happy or bubbly, they didnt look pink or smiley. But subhanAllah the final package looked much better than I ever imagined. The whole time that I had been busy asking Allah to accept, I didnt realise that when Allah wants, He can make even the most lamest of our offerings into something much prettier. How He does it, thats the Divine Department. I dont know if He actually changed my view, or guided my hands to decorate them such that I would be satisfied with my performance, I do not know.
About a month later my neighbor came by to wish me (it was a national occasion), telling me she still has the card I sent with the gift. She liked it so much she kept it with her. She was tired from being in church all day, bur she still wanted to come by and leave her wishes. It was the first time in the last 2 years that we have been living here that this ever happened.
Two months later another neighbor from down the hall actually stopped me and asked “Are you that girl who sent us Ramadan gifts?”. I neve saw him nor did he. But something told him that it was me. As we walked in the elevator he asked me more about my religion and all. He was very nice.
None of this happened because I or any of my neighbors are particularly good or worthy. It happened because it was a very personal thing for me, and because I thought I failed, Allah intervened to make it nice such that I would satisfied. Isnt that what mothers do when their toddlers leave a blob of colors on a paper and gift their moms, who in turn make it prettier by outlining the edges so the child becomes happier at his/her accomplishments? That innocent attempts of that naive little one means so much more to her than the rest of the world could give, she shows it to her friends, posts on social media and even hangs up on the fridge, gloating about it to whoever sees it.
Now relate that to Allah. He loves you more than a mother does. Do you really think that your “inattentive prayers, mindless dhikrs, half hearted gratitude and wavering faith” are all for nothing? Perhaps just like that mother, these bare minimums of yours are what Allah praises you for in front of the angels, up in the heavens.