Three, two, one. 3 months ago, my family and I left Vietnam and returned to Singapore. 2 months ago, we moved to the USA to help my daughter Grace settle into Calvin College. 1 month ago, Jacqueline and I officially started our long leave from Hanoi, or we can say, our sabbatical.
3 months ago, I relinquished all my responsibilities at Tea Talk and left it in the hands of 3 capable ladies, Thuy Trang, Le Huong and Thu Ha. The relinquishing of my responsibilities was challenging, not because there aren't any capable persons to hand my responsibilities over to but because I was still holding on tightly to what I had spent many years dreaming and many tears building. Not until my dear friend and beloved brother Presley asked me a question. Presley always has questions for me. Usually, I don't have answers for him and so I often ask him the same question he asked me. However, this time, I cannot not have an answer for him because the question is about me. He asked pointedly: "Are you worried about leaving Tea Talk?" It took me a day or two before I could give Presley an answer. And not just an answer, but an honest answer. A less than honest answer would betray our friendship.
Worried I was! Very worried indeed. Will the 3 ladies be able to work together? Will the advisory council be able to provide counsel and support for these ladies when needed? Will Tea Talk be able to make sufficient revenue to keep it afloat? Will all the staff be able to carry the heart and soul of Tea Talk forward? Or do they actually know the core of Tea Talk? Knowing is one thing. Applying it and carrying it forward is another? What about the countless individuals that need counseling or simply a listening ear. Who is going to listen to their stories?
Worried I was. In fact, so worried for the past several years that it has affected my health. Just as I was pondering over Presley’s haunting question, the Holy Ghost started to speak to my spirit. For those of you who are not acquainted with the Holy Ghost, don’t worry. I am not losing my mind. The term “Holy Ghost” is a very old English way of referring to the Spirit of God. The conversations that went back and forth between me and the Spirit were: “Michael, why are you worried? If you say you are worried, you are saying you are God. As though you have all the answers and solutions to Tea Talk’s woes.” Truth is, I am no god. The conversation continued: “Michael, why are you worried? If you say you are worried and spending all your energy on Tea Talk, you are saying Tea Talk is your god.”
A few days later, I met Presley as he casually walked into Tea Talk. “What’s up?” “What’s up?
“Hey Presley, remember the question you ask me about Tea Talk and if I have any worries leaving? Truth is, I am very worried but God rebuked me and said: “Michael, if you are worried, you are saying you are God. And if you are worried, you have made Tea Talk god.” I told Presley that I am no god and certainly do not want to make Tea Talk my god. So I resolved not to worry. That was how I found the peace and courage to walk away from all that is happening at Tea Talk and begin my sabbatical journey. Step 1 - Relinquish.