A Farewell to Stardom
By Kemu, South Korea
In 2015, I played the lead role in a movie for the church. When it came out, many brothers and sisters saw me in it. They came up to me and asked about my experience on set. Some of them said they were moved by my performance and brothers and sisters recognized me everywhere. It really stroked my ego. I started to dream of becoming a star and held my head up high wherever I went. Later, I took on the duty of writing and editing for the church. But inside, I longed for the chance to perform once again and be seen by everyone.
One day in late 2019, our leader sent me a message: “Our variety show is missing an actor. Do you want to take on this duty?” Needless to say, I was excited. I never thought I’d have the chance to perform again. If we filmed this show, my brothers and sisters would see me perform again. If they saw me perform in a movie and then a variety show, I’d surely be praised for my talent. I had to take this opportunity, otherwise everyone would forget about me over time. So, I readily accepted the role. At the filming site, some of my sisters saw me and called out my name from the movie. They asked: “What role are you playing this time?” I felt like a real celebrity. I was so pleased with myself and felt like a real person of talent. Later, the director wanted me to act in a skit. I thought: “In that movie, my acting skills weren’t up to snuff. There was room for improvement. This time, I’m going to learn everything I need to know about acting, and show them what I can really do. When they see my performance this time, they’ll have a new level of respect for me.” So, I began working hard to hone my skills. I’d practice every day as soon as I woke up. At noon, I’d use my break to read materials on performance, and at night, I’d lie in bed and watch similar variety shows. During rehearsals, I focused all my efforts, listened to my brothers’ and sisters’ advice, and immediately accepted all directions. I didn’t want them to think I was a slow learner or a poor performer. But despite my hard work, there were always problems. Either my line delivery was wrong or my gestures were unnatural. No one was satisfied with my performance. This concerned me. If I wanted to be in this show, my performance had to be amazing. But so far, it was average. What would my brothers and sisters think? They might think I wasn’t good enough and put me back on writing duty. If I did go back, I might not get another chance to perform. No, I had to do a good job. The thought of this made me tense up and I resolved to redouble my efforts. “I stepped up rehearsals to the point where I stopped caring about my devotionals.” I was entirely focused on how to give a great performance. I practiced over and over, but still couldn’t get it right. I became really frustrated. The director would tell me my line delivery was too strong, so I’d make it lighter. But then it would sound weak and lack rhythm. The director would remind me to act more natural, so I tried gesturing more, but when I did it too much, it looked strange and erratic. My performance was always off. My heart was pained and my soul was darkened. I prayed to God and said: “God! My soul has sunk into darkness, and I can’t sense Your guidance. I want to do my duty well, but the more I perform, the worse I get. God, please grant me Your guidance and show me Your will.”
After praying, I read this in God’s words: “[A]s soon as it touches upon position, face, or reputation, everyone’s heart leaps in anticipation, and each of you always wants to stand out, be famous, and be recognized. Everyone is unwilling to yield, always instead wishing to contend—even though contending is embarrassing and not allowed in God’s house. However, without contention, you still are not content. … Is not a person’s falling into such states a trap? These are the shackles of Satan’s corrupt nature that bind humans” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “A corrupt satanic disposition is very deeply rooted in people; it becomes their life. What exactly do people seek and wish to gain? Under the driving force of a corrupt satanic disposition, what are people’s ideals, hopes, ambitions, and life goals and directions? Do they not run contrary to positive things? Firstly, people always want to have renown or be celebrities; they wish to gain great fame and prestige, and to bring honor to their ancestors. Are these positive things? These are not at all in line with positive things; moreover, they run counter to the law of God’s having dominion over the fate of mankind. … What then does a corrupt satanic disposition bring to people? (Opposition to God.) What comes of people opposing God? (Pain.) Pain? It is destruction! Pain isn’t the half of it. What you see right before your eyes is pain, negativity, and weakness, and it is resistance and grievances—what outcome will these things bring? Annihilation! This is no small matter and it is no game” (“Only Seeking the Truth and Relying on God Can Resolve a Corrupt Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words exposed my own state. I wanted to perform well in this skit, but only so I could make a name for myself. When I was asked to perform again, I’d been anxious to take part. I thought it was another chance for me to be a star. Wanting to fulfill my performing duties and realize my dream of being a star, I took pains to learn all about my craft. I was restless even when reading God’s words. I kept trying to prove myself to the director, afraid he’d disapprove and I’d lose my chance to act. When I performed badly, I felt like I was blowing my chance, and suffered as a result. Although on the surface it looked like I was doing my duty, I was living within a corrupt disposition. All my hard work was done for the sake of fame and others’ admiration. The church was making these shows to spread the gospel and bear witness for God. But I wasn’t thinking of my duty or pleasing God. I was only trying to make a name for myself and fulfill my ambitions. What I sought went completely against God’s will. I was scheming for myself under the pretense of doing my duty. God must have detested this. It became clear, then, that God would not give me His guidance because of His righteous disposition, and this was a chance for me to reflect on my incorrect motives and notions and to quickly repent. Realizing this, I felt indebted to God. I decided to give up my dream of being a star. I was willing to let go of my motives and really focus on doing my duty. Since this was the first time I had joined the variety show, there were a lot of things I hadn’t grasped yet. So, of course, I made some mistakes. I knew I had to approach it properly, to continue to learn and practice.
After that, when the director corrected my movements and line delivery, I practiced them over and over. I didn’t care about being looked up to. I calmed myself and sincerely pondered how to get the best result. Once I corrected my motives, I was able to perform more in line with the director’s wishes, and grasp the essentials with ease. I sincerely thanked God. I knew I wouldn’t have been able to do it without His guidance. After going through this, I thought my heart was in the right place, that I would no longer pursue fame. But the facts revealed that my satanic disposition of seeking fame and status was deeply ingrained within me.
Later on, because the script had problems and needed revision, we received a new script for a stage play. I read through the script once and was deeply moved by the story. I thought the daughter-in-law character suited me well. It was easy for me to inhabit the role in rehearsals. Because of this advantage, I knew I could give a moving and vivid performance. The climax of the play was especially wonderful. If I performed in this scene well, it would add a lot of color to the play and would help turn it into an outstanding work of art. I’d wow everyone when the time came. The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. I knew I had to do justice to the role. So, I quickly learned all my lines and movements and studied all sorts of things related to the character, afraid my performance would be less than outstanding. In one rehearsal, the director said I gave a moving performance, and I was praised by my brothers and sisters. Getting their approval meant a lot to me. I thought, “If they’re praising my performance, it must mean I have real potential. If I had long-term, professional training, I could get even more good roles and become even more well-known.” So, I started to work overtime practicing the part. Even though the movements were more athletic and I hurt my knees and elbows, I stuck with it. I was afraid of losing this opportunity. But for some reason, the more I rehearsed, the more problems I had. After filming, everyone said my performance didn’t feel like the daughter-in-law but was more like a government official. They said my tone wasn’t very gentle, that it didn’t suit the role. The director modeled the actions, and I practiced them a lot, but I couldn’t get them right. I felt so much pressure. I hated myself for not being able to perform well, for being such a stupid failure. I even failed at a small role. What would my brothers and sisters think, seeing this was all I could do? This thought left me dispirited and anxious. My mind raced to think of ways to improve my acting. I stayed up late at night, wondering how I should play this role. I couldn’t sleep.
I read this in God’s words in my devotionals the next day: “Satan uses fame and gain to control man’s thoughts, until all people can think of is fame and gain. They struggle for fame and gain, suffer hardships for fame and gain, endure humiliation for fame and gain, sacrifice everything they have for fame and gain, and they will make any judgment or decision for the sake of fame and gain. In this way, Satan binds people with invisible shackles, and they have neither the strength nor the courage to throw them off. They unknowingly bear these shackles and trudge ever onward with great difficulty. For the sake of this fame and gain, mankind shuns God and betrays Him and becomes increasingly wicked. In this way, therefore, one generation after another is destroyed in the midst of Satan’s fame and gain” (“God Himself, the Unique VI” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words made me see the light. I’d been suffering so much because I’d been subconsciously chasing fame and status. I’d been toyed with and tormented by Satan, who was using fame and gain to control and corrupt me. When I was young, every time I was bullied, my dad would say: “No pain, no gain,” “Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards,” these kinds of satanic, trending adages. Before I knew it, these had become my words to live by. I’d always hoped that, one day, I’d become famous and wealthy and be adored by those around me. This was why, in middle school, I’d studied hard and resolved to become a successful career woman. Even after believing in God, I still chased fame and admiration. After being in the movie and receiving so much praise, I started to enjoy this kind of attention. With the variety show, I wanted to get famous overnight. Wanting to perform even better, I sought instant success and threw myself into practice. I prioritized studying my craft, forgoing devotionals and reading God’s words. Even when I injured my elbows and knees, I didn’t want to give up this chance for recognition. When the rehearsals didn’t go well, and my hopes for fame were crushed, I couldn’t sleep from the anxiety. I saw how I’d been controlled by Satan’s poisons, how I’d been willing to suffer for fame, and in the end, I hadn’t done my duty or gained the truth. I’d been fooled by Satan. It was terrible. I’d become a slave to fame. I’d become Satan’s plaything. I believed in God but didn’t seek the truth. Instead, I’d stubbornly sought fame and status. I’d used my duty as a chance to satisfy my own ambitions. That was resisting and rebelling against God. If I kept that up, I knew I’d be cast out by God.
At a gathering, I openly talked about all this, and a sister read a couple passages of God’s words: “[S]ome people particularly idolize Paul. They like to go out and give speeches and do work, they like to attend gatherings and preach, and they like people listening to them, worshiping them, and revolving around them. They like to have status in the minds of others, and they appreciate it when others value the image they present. Let us analyze their nature from these behaviors: What is their nature? If they really behave like this, then it is enough to show that they are arrogant and conceited. They do not worship God at all; they seek a higher status and wish to have authority over others, to possess them, and to have status in their minds. This is the classic image of Satan. The aspects of their nature that stand out are arrogance and conceit, an unwillingness to worship God, and a desire to be worshiped by others. Such behaviors can give you a very clear view into their nature” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “As one of the creatures, man must keep his own position, and behave conscientiously. Dutifully guard that which is entrusted to you by the Creator. Do not act out of line, or do things beyond your range of ability or which are loathsome to God. Do not try to be great, or become a superman, or above others, nor seek to become God. This is how people should not desire to be. Seeking to become great or a superman is absurd. Seeking to become God is even more disgraceful; it is disgusting, and despicable. What is commendable, and what the creatures should hold to more than anything else, is to become a true creature; this is the only goal that all people should pursue” (“God Himself, the Unique I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Pondering God’s word left me a little scared. Paul liked to preach, to be admired and worshiped. This was an arrogant disposition. Paul used preaching to cultivate an image for himself, hoping to replace God in people’s hearts. He walked the path of the antichrist and was cursed by God. Was my own pursuit not the same as Paul’s? The point of being in the movie was to bear witness for God, but I used the chance to gain recognition. Now, four years later, I was performing again, and again, I’d tried to use the show to make myself known. I’d wanted everything to revolve around me and to have a place in others’ hearts. In essence, I’d wanted to replace God in people’s hearts and minds. That seriously offended God’s disposition. God is the Creator. Only He is fit to be worshiped. I’d been deeply corrupted by Satan, shamelessly hoping to become a star, to be worshiped by brothers and sisters, and satisfy my ambitions. The more I thought about it, the more I felt how shameless I’d been. How could I be so arrogant and wicked as to compete for status with God? Wasn’t this a satanic way to live? If I didn’t repent, I would meet God’s righteous punishment, just as Paul had. I thought about how I’d chased fame like a lot of famous people in the world. They like to be followed and flattered, to be worshiped and called “gods” and “goddesses,” not thinking of themselves as created beings. They don’t know their place and behave properly, but want to become like gods. It’s wicked and disgusting. Before, I’d always felt pursuing fame was a good thing. But now, I saw clearly that this was a path against God, leading to destruction. I had to repent right away. I then thought of brothers and sisters around me. Although they looked unremarkable, they always sought to be honest, truth-seeking people. They did their duty with God’s guidance, and their life dispositions had changed too. They became less corrupt and had fewer difficulties and knew God better. They had chosen the right path, the path to salvation. I prayed to God when I realized this. I didn’t want to seek recognition anymore. I wanted to seek the truth, and cast off my corrupt disposition, to keep my place and fulfill my duty. This was the only way to be at peace.
A few days later, the director said, “This script needs revision. We’ve decided to let you go back to writing duty. You can come back when it’s finished.” I was disappointed to hear this news. I thought, “I’ve spent all this time without playing a single role. If I go back, I don’t know if they’ll let me perform again …” But I immediately realized I was thinking of fame and status once more. I hurried to pray to God, wanting to submit. After praying, I thought of Sister Li. She was young and had some acting experience. She fit the role better than I did. I wondered if I should recommend her. If I did, I might not have the chance to go back and perform. In my hesitation, I thought of God’s words: “You must learn to let go and set aside these things, to recommend others, and to allow them to stand out. Do not struggle or rush to take advantage the moment you encounter an opportunity to stand out or obtain glory. You must learn to back off, but must not delay the performing of your duty. Be a person who works in quiet obscurity, and who does not show off to others while performing your duty” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words showed me the path to take. I had to put the church’s interests first, not my own selfish desires. Although writing duty wasn’t as high-profile as performing, I could still bear witness for God. Sister Li was better for the role, so I knew I should recommend her. This was the only way to be honest and live according to God’s will. So, I shared my thoughts with the director. After the video was uploaded, I saw Sister Li playing my former role. I was happy to see that she performed outstandingly.
Through that experience, although I didn’t end up performing, I saw the essence and consequences of seeking fame through the revelation of the facts and the judgment of God’s words. My misguided pursuits were corrected, and I started pursuing the truth, and fulfilling my duty as a created being.