By Yang Han
I am not fond of overhearing others’ conversations because I think it is impolite. Unexpectedly, one day I actually overheard one.
I Overheard a Conversation
I share an apartment with two friends. One day when I was writing in the living room, I felt a little upset because of a problem I encountered and wanted to get some fresh air to relax myself on the balcony. As the window of my friends’ bedroom opened onto the balcony, hardly had I gotten to the balcony when I heard my two friends talking: “I feel Yang Han is very self-righteous and conceited, and she likes competing with others….” “One day Sister Yun told me that she was very snobbish…. Probably she herself hasn’t notice these yet….” Hearing these words, I felt extremely upset with anger welling up within. And I thought: How could you speak ill of me behind my back? If you really treat me as your friends, why not point out my shortcomings to my face and help me improve rather than talk about me behind my back? At the thought of this, I really wanted to question them or just push the door open and hear what else they would say. Yet I finally refrained myself as I thought of these words in: “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus said to him, I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). From these words, I knew that God asked us not to get angry and lose our temper but to learn to tolerate and be patient when we are associating with others.
Although having known God’s requirement, I still felt kind of suppressed and wronged, thinking: I treat them sincerely as my friends, while they actually think of me like this. Everyone has shortcomings and I am not an exception; how could they talk about me like this? I felt very miserable within, so I prayed to God silently: “O God! Today I overheard my friends talking about my shortcomings, which made me very miserable and hold some prejudices against them. I know as a Christian, I should forgive them but I just can’t let go of it. O God! I really can’t forsake my own flesh to tolerate and be patient with them; may You protect my heart and make me able to submit to Your work.” By praying, I became calmer within and the grievances in my heart were removed a lot. I knew clearly it was thanks to God’s help.
There Appeared a Knot in My Heart
After praying, I thought I had let go of this matter and could still get along with them as usual. However, I couldn’t help feeling kind of uncomfortable at the sight of them. Ordinarily, we talked and laughed happily during meals, but that day I couldn’t cheer up a little and had no words to talk with them. Afraid that they would notice my abnormality, I dared not make eye contact with them and hurried to finish my meal and went into my bedroom.
Sitting on the chair, I began to think: Since this matter is over and I thought I have let it go, why am I still feeling so embarrassed that I couldn’t act naturally before my friends? I want to act according to God’s requirement and not to do things that offend Him while I couldn’t untie the knot in my heart. Since we live together, how can I get along with them in the future?
Viewing This Matter From a Different Perspective, I Got a Surprising Gain
Bothered by this matter, I then told my feelings and situation to an online friend. After a while, that friend sent me two passages of words: “Some people often look for external causes, saying this was caused by this, that happened for that reason and this excuse is why that happened. They say, ‘I have ample reasons that can explain these things clearly. I am not like that. I’m not that kind of person.’ This is far too troublesome. They don’t have an obedient attitude, nor do they have an attitude that seeks for the truth. On the one hand, this kind of person is ignorant. On the other hand, they are stubborn. And moreover, the stature of this kind of person is too small and it is not worth mentioning.” “you must learn to seek the truth. You mustn’t look for external causes, mustn’t always look for the troubles of others, and you mustn’t always look for faults in others. It can look like that from outside, and some people may have opinions about you or may think about you in a certain way, but you shouldn’t see things that way or from that point of view. You should see things from another point of view. If you see things from that point of view, then you won’t be able to attain anything. If you see things from this point of view then that’s great, your viewpoint and your state of mind will be straightened out and you will then attain the truth” (“To Attain the Truth, You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You”).
Reading these words, I gradually calmed down. I began to reflect on myself: Since God has led me to know that what happened today is ruled by Him and that His purpose is to change me and save me, why do I still feel so upset? Isn’t it because I feel I have lost my good image in my friends’ heart? I always protect my own face and status and pursue to be looked up to and admired by others, so when hearing others criticizing me behind my back, I feel miserable and frustrated and even complain, misunderstand, and resist such environment arranged by God, unwilling to submit and seek. In fact, God’s will of arranging this environment is for me to recognize my own shortcomings and inadequacies, resolve my corrupt dispositions, and finally attain transformation. Without this environment, I have no opportunity to know myself, much less to be transformed. So this environment today is painstakingly and carefully arranged for me by God and is essential for me to grow in life. However, I didn’t understand God’s such a good intention but made excuses to justify myself and even resisted this environment for my own face and status. In fact, my pain is not brought by others, but results from my wrong view of pursuit and even from my lacking the heart of seeking the truth and obeying God when faced with this matter. Since I prefer to gain others’ praise rather than attain , I always feel unhappy.
Thinking carefully, I found: As is often the case in our life, when getting along with our family, friends and colleagues, we will inevitably have some conflicts with them and then feel painful. Then in this case, we should see things from the perspective of the truth. Since at most time we cannot find our own shortcomings, God will then use people, matters and things around us to remind us. No matter how He reminds us outwardly, in a direct way or indirect way, and no matter what tone He uses to remind us through others, gentle or sharp, His will is to transform us.
I Was Brimming With Gratitude
Thank God! Having understood this, I felt so happy for gaining such love of God. Those two passages of words untied the knot in my heart and moved me a lot.
Then I made a submissiveto God: “O God, I’m unwilling to be obsessed with right and wrong because everything I encounter is not caused by people, but is arranged and ruled by You; I’m unwilling to feel painful once I don’t get others’ good assessments; I’ll regard my shortcomings they pointed out correctly and seek to change them, so as to accept Your love and salvation for me. Amen!”
Unexpectedly, when I finally submitted, my friend came to chat with me the next day at noon: “Having associated with you for some time, I feel you are a good person, but you still have some shortcomings, which you may not notice. So I think I should point them out so that we can improve together.”
At that moment, I felt very joyful and happy. In the past, I always thought that the endless grace and peace God bestowed on me represented His love for me while only then did I come to know that unfavorable matters in my life contain even more His love for me. God wants me to change my viewpoint of judging things by their appearance and also wants me to face my shortcomings bravely and learn to get along with others according to His words.
After this experience, I came to know that in fact when we encounter something that isn’t in line with our notions, as long as we first come to pray to God, accept and submit to the environment arranged by Him every day, and see it according to His words, we will have a surprising gain.
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