The Prophet (saws) tells us that Allah (swt) says:
“Whomever is hostile to a friend of Mine I declare war against. My slave approaches Me with nothing more beloved to Me than what I have made obligatory upon him, and My slave keeps drawing nearer to Me with voluntary works until I love him. And when I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he seizes, and his foot with which he walks. If he asks Me, I will surely give to him, and if he seeks refuge in Me, I will surely protect him. I do not hesitate from anything I shall do more than My hesitation to take the soul of the believer who dislikes death; for I dislike displeasing him” (Bukhari).
That is why we struggle to change our behaviors, struggle to make our salat on time, struggle to give up what Allah (swt) has commanded us to leave.
It’s not about the obsessive reading of labels to find where pork or alcohol may be hidden in our food. It’s because Allah (swt) has made it obligatory for us to avoid it, so we do that to draw near to Him.
It’s not about wearing a scarf for simple modest’s sake. It’s because Allah (swt) has made it obligatory on us to behave and dress in a certain matter, so we do it to draw near to Him.
It’s not about any action for the sake of that action. It’s not about our pleasure or happiness in this life. It’s about Allah (swt). Every single thing we do in this life, every breath we take, every move we make, every action we undertake, it is with the purpose of submitting to and worshipping the Divine. Until we figure that out, nothing in life is worth a hill of beans.
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (51:56)
I know this is stating the obvious, but unless I smack myself over the head with the obvious on a frequent basis, I know I tend to forget.