Saturday, December 24, 2016

Gifts from Family

It’s been a interesting year so I guess it didn’t really surprise me this week that I ended up getting pneumonia on my birthday! But you know I’m just filled with so much love for Waheguru, and it’s only deepening as I spend this time sitting in bed doing Simran, reading prayers, listening to kirtan, etc. Being sick also means I have time to write so I’ll write about something that happened last week.

A few of my colleagues were discussing their adult kids. One woman wondered how to force her son to go to church given the fact that he refuses, and the response from other people was they couldn’t get their own kids to go to church, mosque, etc. The words force and control were key in the conversation and kept being mentioned over and over. This got me thinking about how I was raised and why I go to the Gurdwara so I’m going to share a little reflection on what my parents have taught me.

My parents are not Amritdhari but the values and principles they live by are rooted in Sikhi. They are big believers in leading by example so while they talked about earning an honest living (kirat karni), hard work, and discipline, they also did it. Like other immigrant parents, they have their own story about how they built their life up from scratch. This story is not mine to tell here but has inspired me in how I live my life. My parents always emphasized sharing what you have (vand shakna), but it wasn’t just limited to giving money or items to charity. It was also about sharing your time in doing sewa, and sharing your knowledge and skillset. I grew up in a house where family, friends, and strangers have come over or called at all hours asking for advice or help and I’ve never seen my parents turn someone away. In the book I’m reading “Forgetting the way of Love” by Bhai Sewa Singh Tarmala it says “the purpose of our life is not limited to our family. Guru Gobind Singh Ji taught us that all humanity is our family. The Guru Ji gave us Gurbani so that we can learn how to live with humanity as one family.” This is certainly what my parents have lived by. They’ve often said that helping other people’s children is the same as helping their own. My mom also spent a lot of time teaching us about Sikh history by reading stories, teaching how to read Gurbani, and taking us to kirtan lessons. I remember the soothing sound of her voice reading Kirtan Sohila every night when we went to bed. I think this really made a big difference in inspiring me to learn more about Sihi as I grew up.

Lastly, my parents have always been huge advocates for the empowerment of girls/women. The Kaurs in our history have been a powerful force for change and I think we need to embrace that warrior spirit within ourselves. My parents raised me to be my own person, with my own goals and to think for myself, rather than being dependent on others for my survival. This mindset has definitely shaped who I am and how I’m going to raise my own children. From watching their interactions, I have learned what it means to be an equal partner and the hard work, compromise and sacrifice in working together towards a common goal.

Now having reflected on the way I was raised, I ask myself why I go to the Gurdwara. I go to visit Guru Ji, I go to learn, I go to sit in Sangat- I go because I love it! I go because Sikhism is my first priority in life. I go because I feel the difference it makes in my life. So I’d say it’s not about control and it’s not about force. If we force someone, they will send out an energy of anger and hatred, and they will only do something for so long. If we serve as role models and sources of inspiration (as my parents have been for me), that’s how real change comes about. Then people decide to change for themselves and it’s long-lasting because they themselves experience the benefit of their choice.

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