The Wisdom of Surrender – Part 1

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In my last post, I mentioned how wonderful it was to be able to surrender, especially at times when we felt helpless.  In this post, I would like to share with you my story and how it has brought me out of the darkness and into the illuminating light.

As you could imagine, my Christmas was quiet and solemn, I didn’t mind that a bit though because I knew I needed that time and space to go within.  During the Advent season, the homily reminded me of the real reason for Christmas, is to spend time to reflect on the arrival of Jesus rather than spending it on crazy shopping for Christmas gifts, celebrating with music and singing.  I was blessed for the time of solitude.

During this reflective time, I took out all the things from my mental closet and examined them one by one as though I was doing my spring cleaning.  What was blocking me, what was blinding me from seeing things in different lights?  The one thing that stood out among all others is the fear of letting go of control.  In my mind, surrender is a sign of weakness.  I know I should not use being a mother as an excuse as I know plenty of mothers who are not nearly as controlling as I am.  But I feel being a mother has definitely contributed to my long standing belief that surrender can impede my self image of actually being a perfect mother.

Looking back at 2017 and beyond, I realized much of what had happened to my life was due to my own fear of letting go or not accepting the fact that not everything can be controlled.   The more I want to be in control, the more I was being let down.  The more I felt I had the power, the more I was being shown my true ability.   I was exhausted by the end of each battle I fought, I could not hold up any longer.  When my physical body broke down and my mental energy was drained, I knew these were all the signs pointing to one direction only:  it was time to surrender, it was time to accept the fact that I don’t have to be in control of everything.  In fact, I could NOT even if I tried.

By the end of two weeks in Bali over Christmas time, I finally came to my senses and understood the origin of the infinite power didn’t come from my years of independence, nor as a mother.  When I examined, case by case, all of the things that had happened in the course of my life, it came to light that in some cases, things fell apart due to my stubbornness to surrender and conversely some of them thrived because I surrendered unconsciously.  Only now I realized surrender is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and wisdom.  W.B.Yeats, the Irish poet, once wrote “ Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold “; indeed, trying to be the centre, in control at all times only leads to rupture, and sometimes the best course of action is to, in the words of John McGee “let slip the surly bonds of earth”, let life take us where it may, by surrendering.

The unexpected news of my visa had taken a toll on me, that’s for sure.  But by the same token, I knew there’s not much I could do, no matter how hard I tried.  I didn’t know how 2018 was going to unfold for me and my family as I mentioned in my previous post (where’s home for us, how to bring the family back together), but instead of putting all my energy and focus on these forseeable challenges (e.g. will I win my appeal, what to do with Xavier’s schooling and etc), I told myself that it was time to let go and surrender. I can’t do it all, I need help and first step is letting go.   As soon as I instructed my lawyer to proceed with the appeal case at the end of December, I decided to put that aside.

To truly surrender, I had made a plan to visit the children in Cambodia after Christmas where Alex and Claire had spent 2 months and a week for Xavier.   The two months they had spent with the kids were magical and I wanted some of that special feeling too.  It so happened that both Alex and Claire had a week free before their second volunteering mission, so off we went and together we spent five memorable days with the six orphans in Cambodia.  Again, I see how smooth things can get once I change my attitude toward my fear.   It was the best time I have ever had with my kids as well as the 6 orphans.  The time spent with the children reminded me, once again, to prioritize what is the most important aspects of my life.  It took so little for these children to be happy, the smiles on their faces melted my heart.  They never complain nor fight over anything.  They treasure everything (which is not much) they have.  They show appreciation and gratitude to those who love and care for them.  The five days made me realize what is more important:  my family and children who are less fortunate.  It was also because I made that mental decision to surrender, I discovered things that I could not have before.  One of them was the true nature of my three children, it was in this trip that I saw how natural they were with the Cambodian children, how they had shown compassion to them, how they had treated them as one of their own, how carefully, attentively and lovingly they were with them.  Every activity and decision made were thought through with love and care.  We spent the entire five days with them in the Airbnb, we cooked, swam, played cards, watched movies, went to the arcade and rode on the tuk tuk.  I didn’t have to do much during the trip but to sit back and enjoy being with them.   Their laughters reminded me that it does not takes a lot to be happy.  Look out for my future post re:  Art of Giving: a Cambodia project.

The time I was in Cambodia, I didn’t think for a minute of my visa situation, I didn’t have a moment of anger over how difficult 2017 was for me.  I didn’t feel the need to worry about how 2018 is going to play out for me and the family.  I was having the time of my life with my children and seeing how happy they were playing with the 6 orphans as though they were all brothers and sisters, as though they had never been apart before in their lives.  I could not not count my blessing and be grateful for my three children, for they are my best gift.

Once I surrender, once I accept I don’t have to be in control of everything, I felt a sense of relief and calmness in me.  I also witnessed with my own two eyes how things have fallen into to place naturally when I accept my limitation and when I open for help mentally.  When we returned to Hong Kong in mid January, out of the blue, I received an email from a good friend who had made a suggestion as to Xavier’s schooling for the interim.  The following Monday, I contacted the school and things just fell into place magically.  By Wednesday, Xavier went for his assessment and by Friday, we picked up his uniform and paid for the school fees.  He had just finished his first week of school last Friday and this week he’s off to a week long camp with this new friends.  How perfect is that?  I could not have asked for anything better, Anfield School is a small Catholic School situated in Tai Wai, New Territories.  It is the perfect school for Xavier because the small number of students in a class gives him a chance to get to know everyone in a short time.  The fact that the school only goes up to Year 6 suits us well too because it would be natural for everyone to leave and move on to secondary school.  While we don’t have any idea where we will be in September, Anfield fills in the perfect interim time for us.  Being a Catholic school, Anfield focuses on instilling moral values and virtues in children, giving them a sense of moral direction.  The teachers are very nurturing.  Xavier wishes he could live in the school already.

I couldn’t take any credit for how smooth things have turned out for Xavier.  It is as though the school was hand picked and then handed down to my outstretched hands with a golden ribbon and all I had to do is to say, ‘Yes, yes, thank you for shedding light on me.”

I have a few more amazing stories to share with you in this topic of surrender and I hope you will continue to read and support my blog as I need as many ‘Like’ as possible, for this blog is the prerequisite of my book-in-progress.  Now, I don’t feel reluctant to ask for help and please leave comments and words of encouragements if you like my post.

P. S. I came across this article today and it couldn’t have arrived any better time:  The secret of surrender

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Sandy Sinn-Hussey

Motherhood has been a long journey for me. Being a single mother for twelve years, I have learned the importance of mother and child's relationship. Raising children is a lifelong career and require patience, perseverance and love.

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