Emerging From the Shadow of Mother’s Passing

April 4, 2024

By Cheng Xin, China

In 2012, I was arrested by the police for doing my duty and sentenced to five years in prison. At the time, my mother was already over 60. She was suffering from hemiplegia, but she still came to visit me in jail. Seeing that my mother couldn’t move around easily or stand steadily, I was incredibly upset. She had raised me for all these years, and not only had she not enjoyed my filial care, she also still worried about me in her advanced age. After getting out of jail, I found out that while I was imprisoned, the police had come to my home to ask about me. They recorded my mother and intimidated her. She was frightened, and her health condition was aggravated. I felt that I really owed her, and I thought, “From now on, I have to take good care of my mom and help her suffer less.” But I didn’t get my wish. The police were still investigating and watching me nonstop, and for my own safety, I had to leave home to do my duty.

Two years later, I heard that my mother was at my sister’s home, so I secretly went to see her. My mother’s vision had worsened and she couldn’t see clearly; she was hobbling along, leaning on a cane. It was difficult for her to move at all, and she had trouble speaking. It was so hard to see her like that. Especially when she asked me, “When will you be back next?” I didn’t know how to answer. Because the police were still looking for me, I had taken a risk visiting this time. If I left, I didn’t know when I’d be back. My mother looked at me, waiting for my response, but I just didn’t know, so I just stroked her shoulder and didn’t make a sound. After I left, my mother’s question echoed in my ears. The more I thought about it, the worse I felt. I couldn’t even make a simple promise to her, and I felt that I had failed her. Before long, I heard that my sister had been arrested. I no longer dared to go to her home. It felt like a knife twisting in my heart. My mother was so old, lying in bed, unable to move. She could pass away any day. As her daughter, I didn’t even have a chance to fulfill my responsibility to her. Not long after, the coronavirus outbreak hit, and people were dying everywhere. I couldn’t help starting to worry again, thinking, “Is my mom going to get the virus? Will she be able to evade this disaster? If she dies, I wouldn’t even have gotten to see her one last time.” Later, I found a way to contact my family. I found out that my mother had passed away almost a month ago. Hearing this news, I sat in my chair, my mind blank, trying hard to fight my tears back. I hadn’t seen my mother one final time before she passed. Had she thought that I had no conscience? Had she said that I was cruel? When I got back, I cried my heart out. My mother had raised me for all these years, yet when she was alive, I wasn’t able to take care of her, and when she died, I wasn’t able to see her one last time. My conscience was plaguing me, and a sense of guilt had enveloped me. During that time, I saw old people basking in the sun by their front door, with their sons and daughters at their side taking care of them, and I thought, “I didn’t keep my mother company when she sat under the sun by her front door. I didn’t trim her fingernails or cut her hair.” When the sister in my host family cooked a nice meal, I also thought, “I wasn’t able to cook a meal like this for my mom, and I won’t ever get the chance again.” During the Spring Festival, I saw that everyone on the streets was hurrying back to their hometowns. Some of them were driving with their kids back to their hometowns to visit the elderly. I counted how many years it had been since I had accompanied my mother. During that time, I was listless and aimless. Although I was doing my duty, whenever I had any spare time, I would think of my mother and feel indebted to her. My heart wouldn’t calm down when I read God’s words, and I was always sleepy. I started being perfunctory and going through the motions in my duty, and I didn’t want to talk to the brothers and sisters I was partnered with. When we studied professional skills together, my mind was elsewhere. When the leader came to ask about the work, I didn’t even want to reply, and even if I did, I only spoke a few perfunctory words. I didn’t pay much heed to my duty. I wallowed in degeneration, and produced no results in my duty. I even wanted to get a job on top of my duty, not wanting to spend all my time expending myself.

Later on, I realized it was dangerous for me to continue like this, and I hastened to pray and read God’s words. I read God’s words that said: “Your parents getting sick would already be a big shock for you, so your parents passing away would be an even greater shock. Then, before this has happened, how should you resolve the unexpected blow that it will deal to you, so that it will not impact, interfere with, or affect your performance of your duty or the path that you walk? First, let’s look at what exactly death is all about, and what exactly passing away is all about—doesn’t it mean that a person is leaving this world? (Yes.) It means that the life a person possesses, which has a physical presence, is removed from the material world that humans can see, and disappears. That person then goes on to live in another world, in another form. The lives of your parents departing means that the relationship you have with them in this world has dissolved, disappeared, and ended. They are living in another world, in other forms. As for how their lives will go in that other world, whether they will return to this world, meet you again, or have any kind of fleshly relationship or emotional entanglements with you, this is ordained by God, and it has nothing to do with you. In sum, their passing away means that their missions in this world are over, and a full stop has been placed behind them. Their missions in this life and in this world have ended, so your relationship with them has also ended. … Your parents passing away will just be the last news that you hear about them in this world, and the last of the hurdles that you see or hear about when it comes to their experiences of being born, growing old, getting sick, and dying in their lives, that is all. Their deaths won’t take anything away or give anything to you, they will have simply died, their journeys as people will have come to an end. So, when it comes to them passing away, it doesn’t matter whether these are accidental deaths, normal deaths, deaths from illness, and so on, in any case, if not for God’s sovereignty and arrangements, no person or force could take away their lives. Their passing away only means the end of their physical lives. If you miss them and yearn for them, or feel ashamed of yourself due to your feelings, you shouldn’t feel any of these things, and it is not necessary to feel them. They have departed from this world, so missing them is redundant, isn’t it? If you think: ‘Did my parents miss me over all those years? How much more did they suffer because I wasn’t by their side showing filial piety to them for so many years? Over all these years, I’ve always been wishing that I could spend a few days with them, I never expected that they’d pass away so soon. I feel sad and guilty.’ It is not necessary for you to think in this way, their deaths have nothing to do with you. Why do they have nothing to do with you? Because, even if you showed them filial piety or accompanied them, this is not the obligation or task that God has given you. God has ordained how much good fortune and how much suffering your parents will encounter from you—this has nothing at all to do with you. They will not live longer because you are with them, and they will not live shorter lives because you’re far from them and couldn’t be with them often. God has ordained how long they will live, and it has nothing to do with you. Therefore, if you hear news that your parents have passed away during your lifetime, you do not need to feel guilty. You should approach this matter in the correct way and accept it(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. How to Pursue the Truth (17)). Reading God’s words, I was very touched, especially when I read “God has ordained how much good fortune and how much suffering your parents will encounter from you—this has nothing at all to do with you.” No matter what suffering my mother had endured in her life, and no matter how she passed away in the end, it was all ordained by God. Even if I was nearby and took care of her in her daily life, I couldn’t have helped her alleviate her physical illness at all, let alone kept her alive. Birth, old age, sickness, and death are the laws of existence that God ordained for man; every person has to face them, and no one can break them. I knew I shouldn’t live in a state of guilt. I should keep a rational attitude and accept and submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements. My mother was so old, and her death was a normal one. Her death meant that her mission in this world was over. She had been ill for more than 20 years, and many people with the same illness as hers died after just a few years. That she could live until she did and hear the words spoken from God’s mouth was already the grace and blessing of God. Recognizing this, my heart was set free somewhat, and I didn’t feel such self-reproach and oppression for my mother’s death.

During a gathering one day, I read a passage of God’s words: “Some people abandon their families because they believe in God and perform their duties. They become famous because of this and the government frequently searches their house, harasses their parents, and even threatens their parents to hand them over. All their neighbors talk about them, saying, ‘This person has no conscience. They don’t care for their elderly parents. Not only are they unfilial, but they also cause so much trouble for their parents. They are an unfilial child!’ Are any of these words in line with the truth? (No.) But aren’t all these words considered right in the eyes of the unbelievers? Among unbelievers, they think this is the most legitimate and reasonable way of looking at it, and that it is in line with human ethics, and in accordance with the standards of human conduct. No matter how much content is included in these standards, such as how to show filial respect to parents, how to take care of them in their old age and arrange their funerals, or how much to repay them, and regardless of whether these standards accord with the truth or not, in the eyes of unbelievers, they are positive things, they are positive energy, they are right, and they are considered irreproachable within all groups of people. Among unbelievers, these are the standards for people to live by, and you have to do these things to be an adequately good person in their hearts. Before you believed in God and understood the truth, didn’t you also firmly believe that such conduct was being a good person? (Yes.) Moreover, you also used these things to evaluate yourself and restrain yourself, and you required yourself to be this kind of person. If you wanted to be a good person, you must have surely included these things in your standards of conduct: how to be filial to your parents, how to make them feel less worried, how to bring them honor and credit, and how to bring glory to your ancestors. These were the standards of conduct in your heart and the direction of your conduct. However, after you listened to God’s words and His sermons, your viewpoint began to change, and you understood that you have to forsake everything to perform your duty as a created being, and that God requires people to conduct themselves this way. Before you were certain that performing your duty as a created being was the truth, you thought you should be filial to your parents, but you also felt you should perform your duty as a created being, and you felt conflicted inside. Through the continuous watering and shepherding of God’s words, you gradually came to understand the truth, and it was then that you realized that performing your duty as a created being is perfectly natural and justified(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Is the Truth Reality?). God really exposed the thoughts I had in my mind. In my eyes, if people are filial to their parents, take care of them when they’re old, and arrange their funerals, then they are dutiful; they are good people. If one cannot be filial, then they have no conscience and are not good people. I judged whether a person is good or bad based on ethics, virtues, and morality. This does not conform to God’s words at all, nor does it conform to the truth. I treated traditional culture as a positive thing, thinking that my mother had raised me, so I should look after her in her old age. Because I couldn’t be filial to my parents while performing my duty, and because my mother got tied up in my trouble after I was arrested and imprisoned, I thought that I had no conscience, no humanity. I now saw that my view was the same as unbelievers; it was the view of nonbelievers. I thought of the disciples who followed the Lord Jesus, as well as those missionaries. They traveled to faraway lands in order to spread God’s gospel. In people’s eyes, them casting aside their parents and families was cold-blooded and devoid of humanity. But they, who spread the gospel and fulfilled their duties, were the people who truly had conscience and humanity. Just as God’s words say: “You may be exceptionally amiable and devoted toward your relatives, friends, wife (or husband), sons and daughters, and parents, and never take advantage of others, but if you are incapable of compatibility with Christ, if you are unable to interact in harmony with Him, then even if you expend your all in relief to your neighbors or take meticulous care of your father, mother, and members of your household, I would say that you are still an evil person, and moreover one full of cunning tricks(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are Incompatible With Christ Are Surely Opponents of God). From God’s words, I saw that regardless of how well one takes care of their family members, if they cannot practice the truth, do their duty well, or be compatible with Christ, then they are an evil person. After my mother passed away, I was always grieving, and I didn’t think of how to do my duty well, even regretting that I spent all my time doing it. I had believed in God for so many years, yet my views on things were still the same as unbelievers. I was a nonbeliever. I was very upset, and, crying, I prayed and repented to God, expressing my willingness to reverse my views and not live in this negative state.

One day, I read more of God’s words: “When it comes to handling parents’ expectations, is it clear what principles should be followed and what burdens should be let go? (Yes.) So, what exactly are the burdens that people carry here? They must listen to their parents and let their parents live a good life; everything their parents do is for their own good; and they must do what their parents say to be filial. Additionally, as adults, they must do things for their parents, repay their parents’ kindness, be filial to them, accompany them, not make them feel sad or disappointed, not let them down, and do everything they can to minimize their suffering or even eliminate it entirely. If you can’t achieve this, you are ungrateful, unfilial, you deserve to be struck down by thunder and spurned by others, and you are a bad person. Are these your burdens? (Yes.) Since these things are people’s burdens, people should accept the truth and properly face them. Only by accepting the truth can these burdens and wrong thoughts and views be let go of and changed. If you don’t accept the truth, is there another path for you to take? (No.) Thus, whether it’s letting go of burdens of the family or of the flesh, it all starts with accepting the correct thoughts and views and accepting the truth. As you start accepting the truth, these wrong thoughts and views within you will gradually be dismantled, discerned, and seen through, and then gradually they will be rejected. During the process of dismantling, discerning, and then letting go of and rejecting these wrong thoughts and views, you will gradually change your attitude and approach toward these matters. Those thoughts that come from your human conscience or feelings will gradually weaken; they will no longer trouble or bind you deep within your mind, control or influence your life, or interfere with your performance of duty. For example, if you have accepted the correct thoughts and views and accepted this aspect of the truth, when you hear the news of your parents’ death, you will merely shed tears for them without thinking about how during these years you haven’t repaid their kindness in raising you, how you made them suffer so much, how you didn’t recompense them in the slightest, or how you didn’t let them live a good life. You won’t blame yourself for these things anymore—rather, you will exhibit normal expressions stemming from the needs of normal human feelings; you will shed tears and then experience a bit of longing for them. Soon these things will become natural and normal, and you will quickly immerse yourself in a normal life and performing your duties; you will not be troubled by this matter. But if you don’t accept these truths, then when you hear the news of your parents’ passing, you will cry endlessly. You will feel pity for your parents, that for their whole lives they didn’t have it easy, and that they raised such an unfilial child as you; when they were sick, you didn’t wait on them at their bedside, and when they died, you didn’t wail at their funeral or go into mourning; you let them down, you disappointed them, and you didn’t let them live a good life. You will live with this sense of guilt for a long time, and whenever you think about it you will cry and feel a dull aching in your heart. Whenever you encounter related circumstances or people, events, and things, you will have an emotional reaction; this sense of guilt may accompany you for the rest of your life. What is the reason for this? It is that you never accepted the truth or the correct thoughts and views as your life; instead, your old thoughts and views have continued to hold sway over you, influencing your life. So, you will spend the remainder of your life in pain because of your parents’ passing. This continuous suffering will have consequences that go well beyond a little fleshly discomfort; it will affect your life, your attitude toward performing your duties, your attitude toward the work of the church, your attitude toward God, as well as your attitude toward any person or matter that touches your soul. You may also become disheartened and discouraged toward more matters, become despondent and passive, lose faith in life, lose enthusiasm and motivation for anything, and so on. In time, the impact will not be limited to your simple daily life; it will also affect your attitude toward performing your duties and the path you take in life. This is very dangerous. The consequence of this danger may be that you cannot perform your duties as a created being adequately, and you may even stop performing your duties halfway or harbor a resistant mood and attitude toward the duties you perform. In short, this kind of situation will inevitably worsen over time and cause your mood, emotions, and mentality to evolve in a malignant direction(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. How to Pursue the Truth (16)). I thought of how during these years that I believed in God, I had always treated traditional sayings “Filial piety is a virtue to be held above all else” and “Do not travel far while your parents yet live” as positive things, as criteria for how I conducted myself. When doing my duty conflicted with taking care of my mother, although I had left home to do my duty, I always worried about her, and felt indebted to her because I wasn’t taking care of her. After I heard that my mother had passed away, I lived in self-reproach and pain because I didn’t look after her in her old age and arrange her funeral. My mother had raised me, but not only had I not taken care of her, I wasn’t even able to see her one last time before she died. I felt I had no conscience and no humanity, and thought I would be cursed at and criticized by others. The reason I was living inside the pain of losing my mother was that I treated the sayings “Filial piety is a virtue to be held above all else” and “Take care of your parents in their old age and arrange their funerals” as truths that I should abide by. Because I had not followed these sayings, I lived inside my guilt, unable to forgive myself, and regarded my duty with passivity. I had been misled by these traditional notions. When I heard of my mother’s passing, I was unable to submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, living in a state of melancholy, regretful and self-blaming, being negative and slacking off in my duty. Without realizing it, I had stood in opposition to God and become someone who made an enemy of Him. After this, I read another passage of God’s words and learned how I ought to regard my parents. God’s words say: “Some people want to perform their duties but also feel that they must honor their parents, which involves feelings. If you just keep pruning your feelings, telling yourself not to think about your parents and family, and to only think about God and focus on the truth, but you still can’t help but think about your parents, this cannot solve the fundamental problem. To solve this problem, you need to dissect the things you thought were right, along with the sayings, knowledge, and theories that you inherited and that align with human notions. In addition, when dealing with your parents, whether you fulfill your obligations as a child to take care of them must be entirely based on your personal conditions and God’s orchestrations. Doesn’t this explain the matter perfectly? When some people leave their parents, they feel that they owe their parents a lot and that they do nothing for their parents. But then when they do live together, they are not filial to their parents at all, and they do not fulfill any of their obligations. Is this a truly filial person? This is saying empty words. No matter what you do, what you think, or what you plan, those things are not important. What is important is whether you can understand and truly believe that all created beings are in the hands of God. Some parents have that blessing and that destiny to be able to enjoy domestic bliss and the happiness of a large and prosperous family. This is God’s sovereignty, and a blessing God gives them. Some parents don’t have this destiny; God has not arranged this for them. They are not blessed to enjoy having a happy family, or to enjoy having their children stay by their side. This is God’s orchestration and people cannot force this. No matter what, ultimately when it comes to filial piety, people must at least have a mindset of submission. If the environment permits and you have the means to do so, then you can show your parents filial piety. If the environment does not permit and you lack the means, then do not try to force it—what is this called? (Submission.) This is called submission. How does this submission come about? What is the basis for submission? It is based on all of these things being arranged by God and ruled over by God. Though people may wish to choose, they cannot, they do not have the right to choose, and they should submit. When you feel that people should submit and that everything is orchestrated by God, don’t you feel calmer in your heart? (Yes.) Then will your conscience still feel rebuked? It will no longer feel constantly rebuked, and the idea of not having been filial to your parents will no longer dominate you. Occasionally, you may still think about it as these are some normal thoughts or instincts within humanity, and no one can avoid them(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Is the Truth Reality?). God speaks very clearly about the principles of practice for how to regard one’s parents. That should be based primarily on their own conditions and abilities. When one’s conditions are permitting and their abilities are sufficient, they can fulfill their responsibility and be filial to their parents. However, one still must submit to God’s orchestration and arrangements. These years, not being able to take care of my mother didn’t mean that I didn’t want to take care of her or didn’t want to fulfill my responsibility. It was because the police were always pursuing me. I couldn’t even ensure my own safety, so how could I take care of my mother? I didn’t hate the Communist Party, and even blamed God. I saw that I had truly confused the facts and couldn’t tell right from wrong; I was impossible to reason with! I often felt I hadn’t taken care of my mother, and hadn’t helped her live happily and looked after her in her later years or arranged her funeral, and so I felt that I owed her. I thought that under my care, my mother would have lived happily. In reality, this was a mistaken view. Man’s happiness originates from God’s care, protection, and blessing. One is not happy just because their sons and daughters look after them when they grow old. My mother suffered from hemiplegia for many years, and her body ached all over. Before, when I was at home taking care of her, I was contacting the doctor and getting her medications. Even though I was trying to have her treated and caring for her, this did not alleviate her pain in the slightest. How much suffering my mother should endure was ordained by God. Now, my mother had passed away, which meant that her time had come. She was no longer suffering from physical illness. This was a good thing, and I ought to submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements. However, I hadn’t sought the truth in this matter or submitted to God’s determinations. I was negative and slacked off in my duty, and the essence of my behavior was opposed to God; I had no humanity or reason whatsoever!

I read another passage of God’s words which further clarified how to regard one’s parents. God’s words say: “Outwardly, it appears that your parents gave birth to your fleshly life, and that it was your parents who gave you life. But, if we look at this from God’s perspective, and from the root of this matter, your fleshly life was not given to you by your parents, because people cannot create life. In simple terms, no person can create man’s breath. The reason why the flesh of each person is able to become a person is because they have that breath. Man’s life lies in this breath, and it is the sign of a living person. People have this breath and life, and the source and origin of these things are not their parents. It is just that people were produced by means of their parents giving birth to them—at the root, it is God who gives people these things. Therefore, your parents are not the masters of your life, the Master of your life is God. God created mankind, He created the lives of mankind, and He gave mankind the breath of life, which is the origin of man’s life. Therefore, isn’t the line ‘Your parents are not the masters of your life’ easy to understand? Your breath was not given to you by your parents, and much less is its continuation given to you by your parents. God looks after and rules over every day of your life. Your parents cannot decide how every day of your life goes, whether each day is happy and goes smoothly, who you meet every day, or what environment you live in each day. It is merely that God looks after you through your parents—your parents are simply the people that God sent to look after you. When you were born, it was not your parents who gave you life, so was it your parents who gave you the life that allowed you to live until now? It still wasn’t. The origin of your life is still God, and not your parents(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. How to Pursue the Truth (17)). God’s words are very clear—the origin of man’s life is God. Although my mother gave birth to me, my life was gifted to me by God. Without God’s blessing and provision, my mother wouldn’t have been able to raise me. God used my mother to raise me, used her to bring me before Him, and used her to get rid of my anxiety about trouble back home. No matter how much my mother expended for me, all of this originated from what God bestowed upon me. But instead, I had stood things on their head, believing that my mother expended too much for me and always wanting to repay my parents, and so I ignored God’s sovereignty and determinations. In reality, no matter how much my mother expended, she was fulfilling her responsibility as a mother, which was also God’s arrangement and sovereignty. The One I should thank was God. I also understood that I had my own mission in this world, which was to do my duty as a created being, not to repay my mother’s kindness. Recognizing this, I no longer lived in guilt, reproaching myself and feeling indebted. I was able to quiet my heart and do my duty. God’s words are a beacon of light. If it were not for the timely enlightenment and guidance of God’s words, I would still be unable to discern the sayings “Filial piety is a virtue to be held above all else” and “Do not travel far while your parents yet live” that Satan had instilled in me, and I would live inside my feeling of indebtedness toward my mother, suffering the harm of Satan. Now, I finally see clearly, that traditional culture is a reactionary fallacy that resists God, and that these thoughts and views are very misleading. It was God’s words that brought me away from these satanic fallacies, and made me able to regard my mother’s death correctly. My heart was liberated and set free! Thank God for saving me!

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