No Longer Frivolous, Despite My Youth
By Miaoxiao, China
It’s just as God’s words say, “In experiencing God’s work, if people want to be in the likeness of a person, they must experience the revelation, chastisement, and judgment of these words, and eventually they will be able to transform. This is a way, and if people don’t do it this way, they cannot change. They have to do it little by little. They must experience judgment and chastisement and continual pruning and dealing. The things exposed in people’s natures must be revealed. After they are revealed and people understand them clearly, they will be able to walk on the correct path. Only after experiencing for a period of time and understanding some truths will they have some assurance to stand” (“Understanding Commonalities and Differences in Human Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Now I’ll fellowship on my own experience and understanding.
I started studying the guzheng when I was 5, and I studied the guzheng for my major at a music academy. After I started believing in God, when I saw that God’s house had some videos that needed a guzheng musical score, I was very excited. I thought, “If one day I could get to do this duty, I would be able to properly apply my talents and create beautiful music to praise God.”
In May of 2019, I finally got this duty. When I first joined the group, I met two sisters, and I thought, “These are people who were chosen for their talent, but I’m sure my skills must compare favorably with theirs.” Later, after I got to know them, I found out that neither had studied professional musical theory, and they both said they wanted to learn more from me. When I heard that, I felt wonderful. I thought, “I was selected for this group out of so many brothers and sisters, and I know more than the sisters I’m partnered with, so my skills must be top-notch!” After that, one of the sisters said to me, “In a few days, another sister will join the group, and I’ve heard she is a Level 10 guzheng player, so what level are you?” I was not impressed, and I thought, “It doesn’t matter at all what level you are. It was my major and it’s part of who I am. So what if you’re a Level 10? Levels don’t count for anything with a professional.” So, I proudly declared to her, “I’m a professional.” A few days later, Sister Ming arrived. She said that after passing the Level 10 test, she hadn’t touched a guzheng for more than a decade. That got me thinking, “It looks like I’m the only professional in the group. In the future, I’ll show you all just how good I am.” After that, I could finish composing a song in 2-3 days, but I noticed that my sisters were still learning basic musical theory. Sometimes they became completely confused, and I felt superior to them. I felt like having studied professionally really set me apart. Especially when I saw that they couldn’t compose songs, or made mistakes, I felt like it was only natural for me to start acting like a teacher as I helped them learn.
I remember once, as I was composing a song, from the next room I suddenly heard someone playing the guzheng. I knew it was Sister Ming practicing, but I couldn’t help but feel disdain rising within me. I thought, “It really has been too long since Sister Ming played. She’s awful at it …” I tried to endure the sound, but after a while I really couldn’t anymore, so I went over to her and said, “You’re playing everything off-key! How did you ever pass the Level 10 test?” Her face immediately went red with embarrassment, and then she said to me nervously, “It’s been too long since I’ve played, I’m out of practice. Could you maybe teach me how to play this piece?” I shot her a look and said, “It must have been a really long time since you played!” She lowered her head and didn’t say anything, and I felt a little guilty. I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be treating my sister like this. But I also thought about how, when I was still in school, I spoke more harshly than that to younger schoolmates, so my tone toward her wasn’t all that bad. So, I sat down and played it while she watched, and then said, “Play it just like I showed you, and you’ll have it.” After that, when she sat down to play, I saw that her hands and fingers were stiff, and she looked nervous. She only played a few notes before she made a mistake, so I showed her a few more times. But when she kept making mistakes, I started to dislike her. “Back at school, when I’d had problems and asked my schoolmates for help, it only took me a couple tries to get it right. I’ve shown you several times already, so why can’t you do it? You’re too stupid,” I thought. So, I said to her, “If you still can’t do it after all the times I’ve showed you, then frankly, I don’t want to teach you.” She looked up at me, and all I could see in her eyes was disappointment. The look in her eyes cut me straight to the bone. I realized she felt constrained by me. How could I have acted this way? Why couldn’t I have been a little more patient? But then I thought, “All I’m doing is correcting her mistakes. She might be suffering right now, but that will motivate her to improve faster, so I’m still helping her in the end.” Once I realized that, I didn’t think too much about it. But afterward, I discovered that Sister Ming had less and less enthusiasm for playing, and she stopped asking me questions. When I asked her for the reason, she told me, “I’m afraid that if I ask you, you’ll criticize me, so I don’t dare ask you what I don’t know. I’d rather wait until you practice, listen from next door, learn how you play, and improve my skills that way.” When I heard that, it genuinely pierced my heart. I really never thought I would make her feel so constrained that she was afraid to ask me questions, or that I could hurt her so badly. I felt awful, and I thought, “All I wanted to do was help her learn faster. How did things end up this way?” So, I prayed to God, asking Him to help me understand my problems.
And then I read this passage of God’s words: “How does an arrogant disposition come about? Is it caused by someone consulting with you? (No; it comes from my nature.) How, then, can your nature lead you to have this kind of reaction and expression? How is it revealed? The moment someone consults with you about something, you immediately become irrational, lose your normal humanity, and can no longer make accurate judgments. You think, ‘You ask me about this; I understand it! I know about it! I comprehend it! I often come across this matter, and am all too familiar with it; to me, it’s no big deal.’ When you think like this, is your rationality normal or abnormal? When any corrupt disposition is revealed, a person’s rationality becomes abnormal. Therefore, no matter what issue you encounter—even when someone consults with you—you must not take on a haughty attitude; your rationality must remain normal” (“The Path to Resolving Corrupt Dispositions” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “Do not be self-righteous; take the strengths of others to offset your own deficiencies, watch how others live by God’s words; and see whether their lives, actions, and speech are worth emulating. If you regard others as less than you, you are self-righteous, conceited, and of benefit to no one” (“Chapter 22” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Reading God’s words made me feel terrible and miserable. God’s words exposed every single one of my actions and thoughts, and only then did I realize that such behavior was a revelation of my arrogant disposition. I thought, because I had a musical education and had some professional knowledge, I was exceptional. I thought I was a professional talent. When my sisters didn’t understand something and asked me, I thought even more that both in skills and in professional knowledge, I stood out from the crowd. I felt I was superior, so I put myself in a teacher’s position and used a teacher’s superior attitude and tone when I taught my sisters. When I heard that Sister Ming didn’t play so well, I not only looked down on her, but I rebuked her on the spot. I didn’t consider her feelings at all. I showed her how to play several times, but when I still heard her make mistakes, I spoke so sharply to her that she felt too constrained to practice anymore. She was so afraid she would rather study in secret than ask me questions. How had I become so arrogant and unreasonable? I really was so arrogant I lost all normal humanity. Considering that she hadn’t played for over 10 years, it was normal for her to be a little clumsy and learn slowly when she started again. But the fact that she was willing to learn all over again and do the hard work of practice to fulfill this duty was something admirable about her. Rather than see that in her, I looked down on her and belittled her for her shortcomings, and beat down her willingness to try. How could I be so arrogant and without humanity? The more I thought about it, the more I realized how serious my corrupt disposition was. I had to repent to God. I couldn’t go on like this. So, I prayed to God, “God, I live trapped in my arrogant disposition, and by looking down on and constraining my sister, I’ve caused her so much hurt. Now, I realize what I’ve done, and I wish to repent to You. I also beg You to guide me to cast off my dispositions of arrogance and conceit, to enter into the truth, and live out normal humanity.”
After that, I proactively opened up to everyone at a meeting about the corruption I’d been revealing, and I apologized to Sister Ming. I said, “I assumed, because I studied music professionally, that I was better than all of you, so when I taught you to play, I took a sarcastic, belittling, and rebuking tone in my attitude toward you. I apologize to you for the hurt I caused you. From today, I want to enter into the truth of living out normal humanity. I don’t want you to feel constrained by me anymore, and if you see me reveal corruption, I want you to help me by pointing it out.” After saying that, I was surprised when Sister Ming not only didn’t hold it against me, but said she hoped I would help her more with her skills. When I saw that after hurting and constraining my sister so much, she didn’t hold it against me, I felt even more ashamed. I thought, “In the future, I want to be a good partner for her and help her fulfill this duty.” After that, when I saw Sister Ming make mistakes in her music, I sometimes still looked down on her, but I was able to immediately realize I was revealing my arrogant disposition. I was then able to pray to God, adjust my attitude, stop acting like a teacher, and help her learn in a calm, friendly way. Some time passed, and I realized that my relationship with her had become more normal, and whatever I taught her, she picked up very quickly. There were songs that had taken me months to learn at school, but she learned them in a month. We were all excited and thanked God for His guidance.
But, despite that experience, and the fact that my state had improved, and that outwardly I wasn’t as arrogant as before, I still didn’t have much understanding or loathing of my arrogant and conceited satanic dispositions. And so when the conducive circumstances arose, the same old problem came roaring back. After that, our group began studying how to calculate intervals. One night, I saw that Sister Ming’s calculation of interval was too slow, so I wanted to teach her a simpler way to do it. Sister Han and Sister Xiaoyue also came over to listen to us, and before long, Sister Xiaoyue and Sister Ming were able to calculate intervals using the method I taught them. I couldn’t help but be delighted with myself when I saw that they could do it. I thought, “I’m really in a league of my own being a professional.” I felt like I wanted nothing more than to keep talking and teaching them, but I noticed Sister Han wasn’t doing her calculations with my method, and she was doing it slowly. I thought, “If you do this by yourself, how many intervals will you be able to calculate in an hour? You’re just wasting time. The other two are doing what I taught them, and they’re much faster.” So then, I said to Sister Han, “Try doing it the way I taught you.” An awkward expression appeared on her face, and she said she knew how to calculate intervals before she heard the method I taught because she had already learned another method. But after hearing what I taught, she couldn’t do it anymore, and now she felt completely confused. I couldn’t help but feel disdain for her. I thought, “My method is so simple, how can you not understand it? I’m going to teach this method to you today. I won’t believe you can’t do it!” So, I pulled up a stool and sat down next to her. and started to use my hands to explain how to do it. I repeated it several times, but all I saw in her face was confusion, so I suppressed my temper and tried to explain it for another half hour. But after that, I saw how embarrassed she looked, and I was feeling at a loss. I thought, “Maybe it’s too late, maybe she’s too tired for this,” and at that I let her go rest.
In the middle of the night, I woke up and saw Sister Han still up calculating intervals. I was stunned. I asked her why she was still up working at it, and with frustration in her voice, she said, “Actually, I still don’t understand the method you taught me. I can calculate intervals using my own method, it’s just a bit slow. I think maybe I should just use my own method for now.” When I saw my sister still working hard in the middle of the night, and her cautious expression when she spoke to me, I felt a little guilty, because it was then that I realized, “Once again, I’ve constrained my sister, haven’t I?”
So the next day, at our meeting, I asked everyone to openly talk about my shortcomings. These sisters said I always liked to speak from a position of authority, that I was too arrogant, that I always made them feel constrained, and that I insisted they always do things my way. One of the sisters said I always spoke too harshly and made others uncomfortable. When I heard my sisters say these things, I immediately felt my mind cloud over, and my face felt hot. It was very hard to accept. I couldn’t stop myself from feeling aggrieved. I thought, “Maybe I am a little arrogant, but I’m also working on it. It can’t be as bad as they make it out to be.” But I thought about it some more, and then I realized that this was happening because God allowed it, and I had no right to make excuses or argue. To do that would be refusing to accept the truth. And on top of that, I was the one who asked my sisters to point out my shortcomings. They sincerely pointed them out, and if I refused to accept them, wouldn’t that just be senseless? Once I understood all this, I silently prayed to God, asking Him to allow me to accept and obey what my sisters had raised. After I prayed, I felt a little calmer, and I said to my sisters that I would reflect on my problems.
Later, during my devotionals, I read this passage of God’s words: “If you really possess the truth within you, the path you walk will naturally be the correct path. Without the truth, it is easy to do evil, and you will do it despite yourself. For example, if you had arrogance and conceit, you would find it impossible to keep from defying God; you would feel compelled to defy Him. You would not do it on purpose; you would do it under the domination of your arrogant and conceited nature. Your arrogance and conceit would make you look down on God and see Him as being of no account; they would cause you to exalt yourself, constantly put yourself on display, and, finally, sit in God’s place and bear testimony for yourself. In the end, you would turn your own ideas, your own thinking, and your own notions into truths to be worshiped. See how much evil is done by people under the dominance of their arrogant and conceited nature!” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can You Obtain Changes in Your Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). When I saw what was revealed in God’s words, I finally understood that the root cause of the arrogance and conceit I revealed and the way I constrained my sisters was that I still had an arrogant satanic nature inside of me. Living by that arrogant nature, I always thought I was better than others, so I wanted to have the final say in everything. Especially when I saw that my professional skills were better than others, I stood above everyone and acted like a teacher, and I demanded that everyone listen to me and obey me. In the right circumstances, I would involuntarily show off my knowledge and skills, use my own views as criteria to be followed, and even consider them to be the truth and demand absolute obedience from others. When I saw that Sister Han wasn’t using my method to calculate intervals, I immediately got angry and pushed her. I insisted that she change her ways and listen to me. I didn’t respect her feelings at all, and I didn’t consider her actual difficulties. I didn’t even leave the sisters any room to fellowship or discuss things. I was so arrogant that I lost all reason. In the end, I didn’t help my sisters in the group at all. All I did was hurt and constrain them, impact their performance of their duties, and get in the way of everyone’s work. That was when I realized that living by an arrogant disposition was not only preventing me from living out a human likeness, it was also disrupting the duties of others and getting in the way of church work. How could I say I was fulfilling my duties? Wasn’t I obviously doing evil and resisting God? If I didn’t repent, sooner or later God would reject and eliminate me! That my sisters were able to help me by pointing out these things really was God protecting me. Without them, I would’ve carried on living by my arrogant disposition, and I don’t know how many evil things I might do.
After that, in my devotionals, I came across another passage of God’s words: “God created man, breathed life into him, and also gave him some of His intelligence, His abilities, and what He has and is. After God gave man all of these things, man was able to do some things independently and think on his own. If what man comes up with and does is good in the eyes of God, then God accepts it and does not interfere. If what man does is right, God will let it stand. So, what does the phrase ‘whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof’ indicate? It indicates that God did not see fit to alter any of the names given to the various living creatures. Whatever name Adam called a creature, God would say ‘So it is,’ affirming the creature’s name. Did God express any opinion on the matter? No, He certainly did not. So, what do you gather from this? God gave man intelligence and man used his God-given intelligence to do things. If what man does is positive in the eyes of God, then it is affirmed, acknowledged, and accepted by God without any judgment or criticism. This is something no person or evil spirit, or Satan, can do” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I saw that there wasn’t even a little arrogance, self-importance, or conceit in God’s essence. After Adam gave names to all the animals, God simply approved and used them without any disagreement. God is the Creator, God’s wisdom is incomparable to man’s, and yet God never shows off or forces others to listen to Him. Instead, He gives people space and allows us freedom, and as long as we do positive things, He doesn’t interfere. When I thought about that, I felt ashamed. I amount to less than a speck of dust in God’s eyes, but I still tried to capitalize on my professional knowledge and the talents granted to me by God, and I placed myself above everyone else, showed off, and looked down on others. I also insisted that other people listen to me, to the point that even my tone of voice changed. I really was too arrogant. My sister could have fulfilled her duty just fine using the method she knew, but I forced her to use my method and didn’t give her any space to think independently. I was pushy and dictatorial. How could I be so unreasonable? All I lived out were satanic dispositions, and it was truly ugly. I realized that no matter how gifted or talented I was, if I didn’t practice the truth and or change my satanic dispositions, sooner or later, I would be rejected and eliminated by God. When I thought of that, I was a little afraid, and I also loathed and hated myself. I prayed to God, saying I would repent and practice the truth, and that I would no longer live by my arrogant disposition.
After that, I read two passages of God’s words which gave me a path for how to let go of myself and cast off my arrogant disposition. “Do not put on airs. Can you alone take up the work, even if you are the most professionally skilled or you feel your quality is the greatest of those here? Can you alone take up the work even if you have the highest status? You cannot, not without everyone’s help. Therefore, none should be arrogant and none should wish to act unilaterally; one must swallow one’s pride, let go of one’s own thoughts and views, and work in harmony with the assembly. These are the people who practice the truth and are possessed of humanity. Such people are loved by God, and only they can be devoted in the performance of their duty. This alone is a manifestation of devotion” (“The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “God bestows gifts on man, giving them special skills as well as intelligence and wisdom. How should man use these things? You must dedicate your special skills, your gifts, your intelligence and wisdom to your duty. You must use your heart and rack your brain in applying everything you know, everything you understand, everything you can achieve, and everything you think of to your duty. By doing so, you will be blessed” (“Only by Being an Honest Person Can You Live Out a True Human Likeness” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Contemplating God’s words made me understand that God gave me talent and fated me to study professional knowledge about music, so I should use these things to fulfill my duties, not as capital to be arrogant and proud. I realized that everyone has their own strong points and shortcomings, and no matter how good I may be at music, I’ll never be the best at everything, nor does it mean that I have the reality of the truth. I realized I had to work with my brothers and sisters so we could make up for each other’s shortcomings, and work as one with them to create works that testified to God. Only doing this accords with God’s will.
After that, when I played guzheng and learned skills with my sisters, if I found places where they needed to improve, I consciously prayed to God for the strength to forsake myself and patiently teach them, and I could also learn from the strong points they possessed. After that, they no longer felt constrained by me and were able to use their talents in their duties, and over time they felt more and more free. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we produced compositions much more quickly than before, and the quality kept getting better. Later, a young sister who had never studied musical theory came to our group, so to help her learn and master it as quickly as possible, I designed a course for her that went from the basics to advanced subjects. I thought, as long as she follows my course, she’ll be able to learn it all in no time. But one day, she came to ask me about something she didn’t understand, and when I realized her question wasn’t anywhere in the course I designed, I began to feel uncomfortable, and I thought, “I designed such a good course for you, but you aren’t following it. Instead, you’re looking at other material. If you study like this, when will you ever improve? Aren’t you just doubting my professionalism?” When my train of thought reached this point, I immediately recognized that this was my arrogant disposition acting up again, so I immediately prayed to God and forsook myself. I thought of how I had done things before by relying on my arrogant disposition and caused the sisters in my group to feel very constrained. This time, I knew I had to respect her opinion. I decided to let her study at her own pace and in her own way instead of forcing her to do what I thought was best. After that, when the two of us were working on a composition, whenever we found places where our views or ideas were different, I consciously let go of myself, and then discussed things with her, In the end, a week later, our composition was complete and I knew this was truly God’s guidance and blessing. It’s just as God’s words say, “The more you put the truth into practice, the more you are possessed of the truth; the more you put the truth into practice, the more you possess God’s love; and the more you put the truth into practice, the more you are blessed by God” (“Those Who Love God Will Forever Live Within His Light” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).