Untying the Heart’s Knots
By Chunyu, China
It happened last spring while I was on gospel duty in the church. At that time, Sister Wang was elected as gospel deacon, so we were always in contact about our duties. After some time, I saw that she was a straightforward person who spoke her mind. Whenever she saw any kind of issue with me, she’d just state it outright, and with kind of a harsh tone. When she was following up with us on our work and getting briefed on it, sometimes she’d directly point out issues in my work right in front of other brothers and sisters. I felt it really put me in an awkward situation. At first I was able to grit my teeth and accept her reprimands, and I realized this was her shouldering a burden in her duty. But when it kept happening, I just couldn’t take it anymore, thinking, “I put my heart into my duty. Why can you only see what I’m doing wrong?” In a work meeting, in response to her asking about someone I was sharing the gospel with, I said, “I went and fellowshiped with her a few times, but since she’s got a lot of notions and she’s not very receptive, I stopped going.” Sister Wang upbraided me right in front of everyone: “Aren’t you just delimiting her based on your own imagination? You haven’t really put the work in, so how could you know that she won’t accept the gospel? As long as she conforms to the principles of preaching the gospel, you should go right away to share testimony with her. How can you do your duty well if you’re so careless and irresponsible?” Seeing her scowling face and hearing her stern tone, I felt totally fed up. I was so humiliated with all the other brothers and sisters there looking at me, and I knew that I was in the wrong, but did she really have to criticize me in front of everyone else? Wouldn’t they all think that I wasn’t responsible, that I wasn’t shouldering a burden? They had thought pretty highly of me, but just because I let one person slip through the cracks, she dragged me through the mud, totally disgracing me. I didn’t know how I could look the other brothers and sisters in the eye after that. In an effort to save some face I said a few things to argue my case, but Sister Wang didn’t mince words: “Sister, I have to point out shortcomings on your part. I’ve found that you tend to make excuses for yourself when issues arise, that you are not willing to accept help or feedback. How is that any way to do your duty?” Hearing this upset me even further, and I thought to myself, “You are so overbearing! How can you have no consideration for other people’s feelings? You’re intentionally making me look bad, dragging me through the mud in front of everyone. So now, not only does everyone think that I’m irresponsible in my duty, but I’ll also have a reputation for making excuses for myself. What will the others think of me? Who will be able to trust me after this, to think well of me?” My face was burning and I felt both angry and wronged. I shot Sister Wang a resentful glance, and even though I didn’t say anything, I felt really offended and irritated by her. I didn’t want to lay eyes on her or hear a word she had to say.
I developed a chip on my shoulder about Sister Wang after that. I didn’t want to listen to anything she had to say or see her face. Whenever she tried to discuss work matters with me, I’d just pull a long face and stay quiet. When I really had no choice, I’d reluctantly give her a perfunctory answer. I was resistant and recalcitrant when she pointed out any issues in my duty—I was silently defiant. Sometimes in gatherings with others, I’d make an effort to expose Sister Wang’s corruption under the guise of sharing fellowship on my experiences, so everyone would see her as arrogant and think less of her. I was hoping that everyone would gang up on her to criticize and deal with her, so she could get a taste of being humiliated all the time for daring to offend me, making me look so bad in front of everyone! As a result of me doing this, some brothers and sisters really did become biased against Sister Wang and no longer wanted to seek her out when they encountered difficulties in their duty. They started shunning her somewhat. Seeing this left me feeling a bit unsettled and guilty. I felt that even though she was straightforward, she was really conscientious in her duty, and my drawing all the others over to my side to ostracize and avoid her wasn’t doing any favors for our work. But the moment I thought about how she’d openly reprimanded me, I became fixated and just couldn’t let go of that blockade in my heart. Later, seeing how I was ousting her, Sister Wang stopped sharing fellowship with me and when we did speak, she was always trying to get a read on me. It was really awkward. This weighed on my conscience and I wondered if I was taking it too far, if I might actually do harm to her that way. But then I’d remember how bad she’d made me look in front of everyone and my anger would flare up again. I remained unwilling to give her the time of day. And so, I found myself living in darkness with nothing to say to God in prayer and seeing my performance in my duty slip further and further.
At one point, a leader wrote to our team, asking us to write an evaluation of Sister Wang. I knew in my heart that the evaluation should be fair and objective, but I still bore a grudge against her, so I wrote out all my complaints and prejudices about her, saying she lacked love, that her words and deeds weren’t edifying for people, that she was hurtful. I was thinking that after reading the evaluation, the leader might give her a talking to, that she might get a taste of humiliation, or maybe she’d be dismissed and that would save me the trouble of having anything to do with her. But after writing the evaluation I had this nagging feeling of unease—my conscience felt accused. I couldn’t help but think back over all sorts of things Sister Wang had done in her duty, and think about how she really could do practical work and was earnest and responsible in her duty. The church’s gospel work had been much more successful since she’d become deacon, but I’d just glossed over those things in my review. That wasn’t fair to her at all! The more I thought about it the worse I felt, so I came before God in prayer: “Oh God, my heart is overcome with darkness and pain. I know that what I’m doing is wrong, but I just can’t manage to treat Sister Wang properly. What is the lesson I need to learn? God, please enlighten me and guide me to know my own shortcomings and corruption, so that I can come out from this wrong state.”
I read this inafter my prayer: “In your everyday lives, in what situations, and in how many situations, are you God-fearing, and in what things are you not? Are you capable of hating people? When you hate someone, can you crack down on that person or take revenge against him? (Yes.) Well then, you are quite scary! You are not God-fearing. That you could do such things means your disposition is quite vile, to quite a serious degree! … Are you capable of thinking up various ways to punish people because they are not to your liking or because they do not get along with you? Have you ever done that sort of thing before? How much of it have you done? Were you not always indirectly belittling people, making cutting remarks, and being sarcastic toward them? (Yes.) What states were you in when you were doing such things? At the time, you were venting, and felt happy; you had gained the upper hand. Afterward, however, you thought to yourselves, ‘I did such a despicable thing. I am not God-fearing, and I have treated that person so unfairly.’ Deep down, did you feel guilty? (Yes.) Though you are not God-fearing, you at least have some sense of conscience. Thus, are you still capable of doing this kind of thing again in the future? Can you contemplate attacking and seeking revenge against people, giving them a hard time and showing them who is the boss whenever you despise them and fail to get along with them, or whenever they do not obey or listen to you? Will you say, ‘If you don’t do what I want, I’ll find an opportunity to punish you without anyone knowing about it. No one will find out, but I will make you submit before me; I’ll show you my power. After that, no one will dare to mess with me!’ Tell Me this: What sort of humanity is possessed by a person who does such a thing? (Malicious.) In terms of his humanity, he is malicious. Measured against the truth, he does not revere God” (“The Five States Necessary to Be on the Right Track in One’s Faith” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Reading this in God’s words was really poignant for me. Thinking back over that period of time, I’d become biased against Sister Wang because she’d very directly called out my faults in front of the others, dealing with me. I felt like she’d embarrassed me, that the image the others had of me would be ruined. From then on, I was irritable and resistant no matter what she said, and I was full of complaints about her. I even aired my grievances and prejudices in gatherings. I used the evaluation process for personal revenge instead of fairly assessing her strengths and weaknesses. I just wrote out all of my biases and complaints, hoping the leader would dismiss her or at least prune and deal with her, making her look bad. It was to vent some of my pent-up anger. I harbored a grudge against her and lashed out for vengeance because she’d wounded my dignity. I wanted to show her my power so she wouldn’t dare cross me in the future; I made myself entirely unmanageable. I was revealing a malicious disposition. I was living by my satanic disposition, doing and saying whatever I felt like without even a trace of reverence for God. I realized that when Sister Wang was bringing my faults and inadequacies in my duty to light, this was her taking responsibility for the work of God’s house and it was her helping me, allowing me to know myself. I, however, fought back and ostracized her, not only hurting her and holding her back, but also influencing some other brothers and sisters to disdain her work. That had a serious impact on our gospel work. Didn’t that mean I was disrupting and hindering the work of God’s house? I was so despicable and malicious!
Later on, I read this passage of God’s words: “People think like this: ‘If you’re not going to be kind, then I won’t be just! If you’re rude to me, then I’ll be rude to you as well! If you don’t treat me with dignity, why would I treat you with dignity?’ What sort of thinking is this? Is it not a vengeful way of thinking? In the views of an ordinary person, is this type of perspective not viable? ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’; ‘Here’s a taste of your own medicine’—among unbelievers, these are all rationales that hold water and completely conform to human notions. However, as someone who believes in God—as someone who seeks to understand the truth and seeks a change in disposition—would you say that such words are right or wrong? What should you do to discern them? Where do such things come from? They come from the malicious nature of Satan; they contain venom, and they contain the true face of Satan in all its maliciousness and ugliness. They contain the very essence of that nature. What is the nature of the perspectives, thoughts, expressions, speech, and even actions that contain that nature’s essence? Are they not of Satan? Are these aspects of Satan in line with humanity? Are they in line with the truth, or with the reality of the truth? Are they the actions that followers of God should do, and the thoughts and points of view that they should possess? (No.)” (“Only Resolving Your Corrupt Disposition Can Free You From a Negative State” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “The requirement made of you today—to work together in harmony—is similar to the service Jehovah required of the Israelites: Otherwise, just stop doing service. … Each of you, as people who serve God, must be able to defend the interests of the church in everything you do, instead of simply considering your own interests. It is unacceptable to act alone, undermining each other. People who behave like that are not fit to serve God! Such people have a terrible disposition; not an ounce of humanity remains in them. They are one hundred percent Satan! They are beasts! Even now, such things still occur among you; you even go so far as to attack one another during fellowship, intentionally seeking pretexts and becoming all red in the face while arguing over some trivial matter, neither person willing to put himself aside, each person concealing his inner thoughts from the other, watching the other party intently and always being on guard. Does this sort of disposition befit service to God?” (“Serve As the Israelites Did” in). The revelation and judgment of God’s words showed me why I was capable of behaving vengefully—it was because through my education and socialization, Satan had inculcated me with all sorts of its worldly philosophies like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” “I will not attack unless I am attacked; if I am attacked, I will certainly counterattack,” “I would rather betray than be betrayed,” and so on. I had come to see these as positive things and I lived my life by them. I wanted everything to revolve around me, to have others consider me in their words and deeds to make things agreeable for me. I didn’t want others to be honest, to give me accurate feedback, and I particularly didn’t want them to expose my corruption. The moment someone encroached upon my interests, I would turn hostile, lashing out and taking revenge with an ulterior motive. My satanic disposition was controlling me, making me arrogant, selfish, and malicious without any human likeness. It’s disgusting to God and repellent to other people. God requires that we get along with brothers and sisters in harmony, so that means in my words and actions I should maintain a God-fearing heart, holding up God’s words as the standard for my behavior in all things and placing the interests of God’s house first, without considering any gains or losses for my own face. That’s the only way that we can do our duty well of one heart and one mind. But I live by satanic poisons and always want to protect my reputation. I knew very well that I was muddling through in my duty, yet I couldn’t tolerate someone stating that. I took Sister Wang’s help and pointers as something shaming for me; not only did I refuse to reflect on myself, but I became disgusted with her and took revenge. I found myself so lacking in humanity, so unreasonable. I also saw my satanic nature of being so resistant, so fed up with the truth. I was, essentially, an enemy to the truth, an enemy to God! If I still refused to repent, I would offend God’s disposition, disgusting Him and being eliminated. At this realization I absolutely detested myself and I prayed to God in repentance, willing to let go of my biases against Sister Wang, accept being pruned and dealt with by her, to work in concert with her, harmoniously carrying out our duty.
Later, while seeking and entering into truths about how to work in harmony with others, I watched a video reading of God’s words.says, “Love and hatred are things which normal humanity should possess, but you must differentiate clearly between what you love and what you hate. In your heart, you should love God, love the truth, love positive things, and love your brothers and sisters, whereas you should hate the devil Satan, hate negative things, hate antichrists, and hate wicked people. If you harbor hatred for your brothers and sisters, then you will be inclined to suppress them and take revenge on them; this would be very frightening. Some people simply have hateful thoughts and ideas—evil ideas, but they would never do anything evil; if they can get along with someone, they will, and if they can’t, they will distance themselves from them, and this will have no effect on their duty or influence their normal interpersonal relationships, because they have God in their hearts and they revere Him. They do not want to offend God, and are afraid to do so. Though these people might harbor certain views about someone, they never put those thoughts into action or even utter a single word that is out of line, unwilling to offend God. What sort of behavior is this? This is an example of conducting themselves and handling things with principle and impartiality. You might be incompatible with someone’s personality, and you may not like him, but when you work together with him, you remain impartial and will not vent your frustrations in doing your duty, sacrifice your duty, or take out your frustrations on the interests of God’s family. You can do things according to principle; as such, you have a basic reverence for God. If you have a bit more than that, then when you see that someone has some faults or weaknesses—even if he has offended you or harmed your own interests—you still have it in you to help him. This would mean there is love in you; it would mean that you are a person who possesses humanity, the reality of the truth, and reverence for God. If you cannot achieve this with your current stature, but can do things, conduct yourself, and treat people in accordance with principle, then this also counts as being God-fearing; this is most fundamental” (“The Five States Necessary to Be on the Right Track in One’s Faith” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God requires that we differentiate between love and hate, and treat others in a principled way. If the other person is a wicked person or an antichrist, we should expose and reject them without mercy. If the other person is someone who loves the truth, even if they do have a bit of arrogance, and some flaws and shortcomings, we should set our motives straight and treat them with tolerance and love. Thinking about Sister Wang, even though she was really frank and told it like it is, which was really hard for me to take at the time, thinking it over after the fact, I realized she was right. She was pointing out a failure of mine that I hadn’t seen. Even though it wounded my pride, and it was upsetting and hurtful for me, God was using that kind of situation to address my vanity. He was spurring me on to be more genuine and practical in my duty through Sister Wang dealing with me and keeping an eye on my duty. That would allow me to correct my failings in my duty in a timely way. This was actually a boon for me! If there was no pointer or help from others, I would not make any progress in my life entry or in my duty. Sister Wang wasn’t afraid of offending me, but just candidly pointed out my flaws—this was a sense of righteousness, and it was done out of love and support for me. She also approached her duty with a sense of burden and she did practical work. But I lashed out at her and took vengeance on her. I was barely even human!
There was another video of a reading of God’s words that I saw later on. Almighty God says, “Do not always focus on others’ faults, but reflect on yourself frequently, and be proactive afterward in admitting to another what you have done that constitutes interference or harm to them. Learn to open yourself up and fellowship, and often discuss together how to fellowship practically on the basis of God’s words. When the environment of your lives is frequently thus, relationships among the brothers and sisters become normal—not complicated, indifferent, cold, or cruel like relationships between unbelievers. You will slowly divest yourselves of such relationships. Brothers and sisters become closer and more intimate with each other; you are able to support one another, and to love each other; there is goodwill in your hearts, or you have a mentality with which you are capable of tolerance and compassion toward each other, and you support and care for each other, rather than a state and attitude in which you fight with each other, trample over one another, are jealous of each other, engage in secret competition, harbor hidden scorn or contempt for each other, or in which none obeys another. … Therefore, you must first learn how to get along well with your brothers and sisters. You must be tolerant of each other, lenient with each other, be able to see what is exceptional about one another, what each other’s strengths are—and you must learn to accept others’ opinions, and to retreat deep into yourself to engage in self-reflection and gain self-knowledge” (“The Most Fundamental Principle for the Practice of Entering the Reality of the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words showed me that when someone critiques me and gives me guidance, no matter their tone or attitude, and whether or not it’s in line with my own thinking, I should put my ego aside and accept it. Even if it’s something that doesn’t make sense at the time, I shouldn’t lash out to take revenge on them, but I should come before God to pray and seek. I should trust that whatever I’m presented with is something God allows. It is something I need for my life entry, for me to learn a lesson, so the first thing I need to do is submit and reflect on myself, while also searching for pertinent words from God to resolve my problem. In my interactions with others, I should also take their strengths into account more, and in case of any conflict, I should reflect on myself first and seek the truth. I have to voluntarily acknowledge my fault and open up to the other person about my corruption so that they can see into my heart. This is a precondition for achieving harmonious cooperation as well as a principle I need to enter into.
Later on, I ended up seeking out Sister Wang, and I opened up to her about the corruption I’d revealed and how I’d addressed it. It was such a freeing feeling, and the barriers between us just dissolved. In our collaboration since then, sometimes she’ll say something in a really direct way that wounds my ego and I’ll start to feel some resistance, but I rush to pray to God and put myself aside. I know this is allowed by God, so I inspect my own problems and accept her perspective. By putting this into practice, my prejudices against her have disappeared and I feel our relationship has become much more carefree. We work well together in our duty and we’ve gradually seen more success in our gospel work. This experience taught me that only by accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, only by basing our behavior off of God’s words can we resolve our corruptions and live out normal humanity. I give thanks to Almighty God for His salvation for me!