Pretending to Understand Did Me In

February 7, 2023

By Yi Fan, South Korea

I used to do design work for the church. Over time, as I completed all kinds of designs and images, my skills greatly improved and I was chosen to be a team leader. I thought to myself: “The fact that I was chosen as team leader means that I have certain skills and talents in my work, that I’m better than the other brothers and sisters and able to take charge of this work. I’ve got to cherish this duty, work hard, seek the principles of truth, and do my best. I can’t make mistakes that hinder the church’s work. I’ve got to show everyone that I’m cut out to be a team leader.”

One day, the church leader came and told me: “The church needs a background image for one of our hymn videos. It’ll be harder to make than our previous backgrounds. Since the others are all busy working on different designs right now, and it would delay our progress to bring someone else over to do it, we’d like to have you work on it. Do you think you can do it?” Hearing my leader say this, I thought: “I’ve never worked on such a difficult background before, I’m not sure that I could guarantee good results.” But then I thought, “The leaders and brothers and sisters will be paying attention to this project—I’ve been doing this duty for over two years now, have handled my fair share of difficult issues and tasks, and learned a decent skill set. This may be the first time I try my hand at such a hard background, and there will definitely be some unforeseen issues, but if I can’t even deal with a task like this, then what will all the others think of me? If I can’t handle it, will they think I’m not a talented worker and haven’t made any progress? The other brothers and sisters are all working on their own projects now, and if someone else has to be sent over to work with me at this moment, everyone will definitely think I can’t handle big responsibilities, that I’m unreliable and not cut out for leadership. I can’t let that happen! I’ve got to take on this project no matter what. I’ll just look up what I don’t know so I can get it all done right, and show everyone that I can handle challenging duties.” Having made up my mind, I confidently replied: “I can do it, no problem. This is just a slightly more difficult and demanding background than the others. With a little extra effort, I can guarantee the good quality.” Seeing that I appeared confident, the leader nodded his head: “We’ve got a tight deadline with this background and the design needs to reflect the meaning and feeling behind the hymn. If you have any problems while designing it, contact me right away.” My supervisor also said: “If you really can’t make it work, just let us know and we’ll assign someone to come help you out.” I nodded in agreement, feeling both excited and nervous: I was excited that I was working on such an important design, one that would earn me respect if I did well, but I was also worried about whether I’d be able to handle such a difficult task. I wasn’t sure if I could provide the quality they wanted! But no matter what, I couldn’t let everyone down. I had to start researching right away, trying things out as I went along in order to make the most of this rare opportunity. I would see this task through, regardless of its difficulty.

While designing, it felt like time was flying by and all sorts of issues came up. I could feel the pressure building. The leader and supervisor often asked about my progress and whether I had any problems. Being so incredibly nervous, I’d just tell them everything was “going fine,” when in reality I was shaking: The design still needed some major breakthroughs and improvements. I really had no idea how the final product would turn out. If it didn’t turn out well, everyone would see my true skill level, they’d say I wasn’t capable and was just trying to show off. I thought that since I’d promised I would get it done, I’d be shooting myself in the foot if I went back on my word, so I just had to bite the bullet and figure things out as I went. I still hadn’t developed a concept, so brainstorming took a while. One time, the leader came by our studio and watched me work, so I purposely switched to an easier section and drew it up quickly, to give the impression I had everything under control. In reality, though, I was so nervous my palms were sweating. Once the leader left, I switched back to the harder section and started racking my brain. I didn’t want to admit there was an issue, worrying the leader would question my ability. I thought that since I’d already made such a big claim, it would be embarrassing to go back on it. I just had to grit my teeth and figure things out as I went, but I was making slow progress and felt emotionally drained. I stayed up really late the final night finishing up the design. My leader and supervisor had a look and said it seemed good but needed a few tweaks. Still, I didn’t feel the joy of doing my duty—I felt lost, and couldn’t cheer myself up.

Later on, during my devotionals, I read a passage of God’s word: “If you often have a sense of accusation in your life, if your heart can find no rest, if you are without peace or joy, and are often beset by worry and anxiety about all kinds of things, what does this demonstrate? Merely that you do not practice the truth, do not stand firm in your testimony to God. When you live amid the disposition of Satan, you are liable to often fail to practice the truth, to turn your back on the truth, to be selfish and vile; you only uphold your image, your good name and status, and your interests. Always living for yourself brings you great pain. You have so many selfish desires, entanglements, fetters, misgivings, and vexations that you do not have the least peace or joy. To live for the sake of corrupted flesh is to suffer excessively(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Life Entry Begins With the Performance of Duty). Thinking about God’s word, I realized that the reason I still felt drained and despondent after finishing the design was because I had too much desire for status. To hide my deficiencies in my duty, I disguised myself, putting on a false front for others. Later on, I came across another passage of God’s word which helped me better understand my corrupt disposition. Almighty God says, “People themselves are objects of creation. Can objects of creation achieve omnipotence? Can they achieve perfection and flawlessness? Can they achieve proficiency in everything, come to understand everything, see through everything, and be capable of everything? They cannot. However, within humans, there are corrupt dispositions, and a fatal weakness: As soon as they learn a skill or profession, people feel that they are capable, that they are people with status and worth, and that they are professionals. No matter how unexceptional they are, they all want to package themselves as some famous or lofty figure, to turn themselves into some minor celebrity, and make people think they are perfect and flawless, without a single defect; in the eyes of others, they wish to become famous, powerful, some great figure, and they want to become mighty, capable of anything, with nothing they cannot do. They feel that if they sought others’ help, they would appear incapable, weak, and inferior, and that people would look down on them. For this reason, they always want to keep up a front. Some people, when asked to do something, say they know how to do it, when they actually do not. Afterward, in secret, they look it up and try to learn how to do it, but after studying it for several days, they still do not understand how to do it. When asked how they are getting on with it, they say, ‘Soon, soon!’ But in their hearts, they’re thinking, ‘I’m not there yet, I have no idea, I don’t know what to do! I must not give myself away, I must continue putting on a front, I can’t let people see my shortcomings and ignorance, I can’t let them look down on me!’ What problem is this? This is a living hell of trying to save face at all costs. What kind of disposition is this? Such people’s arrogance knows no bounds, they have lost all sense! They do not wish to be like everyone else, they don’t want to be ordinary people, normal people, but superhuman, some lofty individual, some hotshot. This is such a huge problem! With regard to the weaknesses, shortcomings, ignorance, foolishness, and lack of understanding within normal humanity, they will wrap it all up, and not let other people see it, and then keep on disguising themselves. … What do you say, do such people not live with their heads in the clouds? Are they not dreaming? They do not know who they themselves are, nor do they know how to live out normal humanity. They have never once acted like practical human beings. If you pass your days with your head in the clouds, muddling through, not doing anything with your feet on the ground, always living by your own imagination, then this is trouble. The path in life you choose is not right(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Five Conditions That Must Be Met to Embark on the Right Track of Belief in God). God’s word exposed my current state. I thought, because I had been working in design for a while, had learned some skills and had been selected as a team leader, that I was capable and a rare talent. Because I thought this way of myself, I took particular notice of what others thought of me, worrying that they’d spot my inadequacies and say I wasn’t fit for the job. Especially with this background image, I hadn’t done anything as difficult before, and I wasn’t sure if I would succeed, but to maintain my reputation and status, and gain the trust of my supervisor and leader, I pretended to have it all under control. When I encountered issues and wasn’t making progress, I didn’t ask for help, and instead just struggled in private. When my leader inquired about my progress or any problems I had, I didn’t tell him about my issues, despite being totally lost, instead choosing to lie to and deceive him, even going so far as to pretend I was highly skilled to make him think I could get the job done. I put up a false front in every aspect to conceal my inadequacies. I always pretended like I was a talented worker so others would think I could do anything, and knew everything. I realized that I was incredibly vain and arrogant. God’s word says, “People themselves are objects of creation. Can objects of creation achieve omnipotence? Can they achieve perfection and flawlessness? Can they achieve proficiency in everything, come to understand everything, see through everything, and be capable of everything? They cannot.” Indeed, how could a corrupt person be perfect and all-capable? It’s normal to not understand, or be incapable of doing certain things in one’s duty, but I didn’t have that attitude towards my deficiencies. Instead, I insisted on painting myself as a talented worker. I didn’t want to be seen as just an average created being. I sought to be perfect and flawless. I was so arrogant that I lost all reason. Because I was always putting up a false front in my duty, worrying that others would see the real me, and not asking for help when I didn’t understand something, the design progressed slowly when it should have been completed quickly, and I became emotionally drained. I realized that it was foolish of me to pursue flawlessness. I was always concealing my inadequacies, without the courage to face them. As a result, I not only felt tired and insincere in my duty, but I also delayed the church’s work. Having realized this, I prayed to God: “Dear God! Thank You for Your enlightenment and guidance, which has helped me see how pathetic my concealment has been. I am ready to rectify my faulty views on pursuit in future practice, have the right attitude towards my deficiencies, ask when I don’t understand, refrain from concealment, and do my duty practically and honestly.”

Later on, I read more of God’s word: “You must seek the truth to resolve any problem that arises, no matter what it is, and by no means disguise yourself or put on a false face for others. Your shortcomings, your deficiencies, your faults, your corrupt dispositions—be completely open about them all, and fellowship about them all. Do not keep them inside. Learning how to open yourself up is the first step toward entering into life, and it is the first hurdle, which is the most difficult to overcome. Once you have overcome it, entering the truth is easy. What does taking this step signify? It means that you are opening your heart and showing everything you have, good or bad, positive or negative; baring yourself for others and for God to see; hiding nothing from God, concealing nothing, disguising nothing, free of deceit and trickery, and being likewise open and honest with other people. In this way, you live in the light, and not only will God scrutinize you, but other people, too, will also be able to see that you act with principle and a degree of transparency. You do not need to use any methods to protect your reputation, image, and status, nor do you need to cover up or disguise your mistakes. You do not need to engage in these useless efforts. If you can let these things go, you will be very relaxed, you will live without shackles or pain, and you will live entirely in the light(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). I realized that if I wanted to do my duty well and be commended by God, the key was seeking the truth. No matter what corrupt dispositions I displayed or what issues I had in my duty, I had to open up to God in prayer to seek guidance, dispose of my desire for reputation and status, fellowship with brothers and sisters, refrain from concealment and disguise, let everyone see the real me, only do what I was capable of, admit when I wasn’t capable, and seek the truth with others. Doing my duty in this way would be less draining and inhibiting—it would be joyful. Having realized this, I opened up in fellowship with my brothers and sisters about my thoughts in the whole design process and brought up the issues I had encountered for discussion with them. The brothers and sisters taught me some new techniques and gave some new ideas. After that, the rest of the time I spent on the background went really smoothly. Later, some brothers and sisters said to me, “Your background image looks much better than previous ones. Could you share your experience and what you learned with us some time?” I felt so happy when I heard this and felt I had fulfilled my duty practically. Thinking back on my experience designing the background, I realized that there’s nothing wrong with having deficiencies and there’s no harm in others knowing about them. Being able to open up and seek the truth, and put aside one’s improper intentions and desires are what’s most important. You can feel peaceful and at ease working in this way.

Gradually, I was able to deliver quality designs for difficult projects and was producing more finished products than the other brothers and sisters. They would always ask me for advice on design concepts and other technical questions. At first, I would just tell them what I knew, but as more people asked, I unconsciously began to think, “I guess everyone recognizes my talents now. Otherwise, why would they ask me for advice?” Without noticing, I began to really enjoy this satisfied feeling and was quite pleased with myself. But then something really unexpected happened. In one of the background images I designed for a hymn, my leader noticed an issue that violated principle and called me over to talk about it. He said the image needed to be edited that day or the work would be delayed and asked if I could do the edit myself or if I needed help from others. I thought to myself: “I designed this image, so if I pass it off to someone else, won’t it seem like my skills are inadequate? Won’t people just think that I talk a big game, but can’t deliver when it counts? That can’t happen! I can’t give up now. If I can fix this problem on my own, everyone will know that I can do my job, that I’m trustworthy and worth cultivating.” Realizing this, I told the leader that I’d fix it on my own according to principle. While editing, there was one part of the image that I just couldn’t come up with a good concept for. Because time was running out and I was still stuck on that concept I got really stressed, just wanting to get it done as soon as possible, but no matter how I tweaked the design, it wasn’t working out. I was stuck on that concept until 5 in the morning, but still couldn’t think of anything. Only then did I start to ask myself, why was I having this issue? I suddenly realized that the reason my design violated principle was because there was some aspect of the principles that I didn’t understand. Having to do this edit had already delayed the work. I wasn’t even sure if my edit would fix things, and this image was urgently needed, so I knew I should ask for some help. But in order to maintain my status and reputation, and conceal my inadequacies, I was just trying to struggle my way through it alone. Wasn’t I delaying the church’s work? Realizing this, I felt incredibly guilty and quickly prayed to God to repent, “Oh God! I’ve been bound up by my corrupt disposition. As soon as I have a problem, I pretend things are fine so others respect me. I can’t face my inadequacies properly. What a tiring way to go about my duty! Dear God, please guide me to recognize my corruption and let go of my vanity, so that I may practice according to Your word.” After prayer, I thought of the following word of God, “You are always seeking greatness, nobility, and status; you always seek exaltation. How does God feel when He sees this? He loathes it, and He will be apart from you. The more you pursue things like greatness, nobility, and being superior to others, distinguished, outstanding, and noteworthy, the more disgusting God finds you. If you do not reflect upon yourself and repent, then God will despise you and forsake you. Be sure not to be someone whom God finds disgusting; be a person that God loves. So, how can one attain God’s love? By receiving the truth obediently, standing in the position of a created being, acting by God’s words with one’s feet on the ground, performing one’s duties properly, trying to be an honest person, and living out the likeness of a human being. This is enough, God will be satisfied. People must be sure not to hold ambition or entertain idle dreams, not to seek fame, gains, and status or to stand out from the crowd. Moreover, they must not try to be a person of greatness or superhuman, who is superior among men and makes others worship them. That is the desire of corrupt humanity, and it is the path of Satan; God does not save such people. If people incessantly pursue fame, gains, and status and refuse to repent, then there is no cure for them, and there is only one outcome for them: to be cast out(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation). God’s word addressed my precise state: I was always chasing reputation, status, and admiration. When I was able to produce more finished designs than the others and completed demanding projects with guaranteed quality, I unconsciously became arrogant. What’s more, when the others kept coming to me with questions, I got a deep sense of satisfaction and enjoyed the feeling of being admired. When one of my images had an issue and was sent back, and the leader suggested that another brother or sister help edit for the sake of time, I didn’t consider the church’s work, only worrying that letting others help edit would reveal my incompetence. To maintain my own reputation and status, and avoid being looked down on, I took the edit on myself. When I encountered issues, rather than asking for help, I grit my teeth and racked my brains, holding everything up. Outwardly, it seemed like I was working overtime for my duty, but in reality, I was just trying to prove my talents by fixing the image, giving people the sense that I was reliable. I saw that I had too much desire for reputation and status. God scrutinizes our thoughts—even if I was able to deceive the others, I couldn’t deceive God, and no matter how well I concealed my inadequacies, if my corrupt disposition was unchanged and I didn’t attain the truth, God would still despise me and cast me out. I had delayed the church’s work in my pursuit of reputation and status, and if I didn’t repent to God and self-reflect, I’d only be deceiving myself and others, doing myself harm. Realizing this, I quickly asked a sister who was good at design to help me out. She and I discussed how to edit the image and I had a much clearer concept afterwards. Soon after, I had completed the edit.

Later on, I continued reflecting on why I always tried to conceal my inadequacies. I happened upon a passage of God’s word that had a deep impact on me. Almighty God says, “Is there anything shameful about not being able to do a few things? What person is able to do everything? There is nothing shameful about that—don’t forget, you are an ordinary person. People are just people; if you can’t do something, just say so. Why pretend? If you are always pretending, others will find it revolting, and sooner or later, the day will come when you are exposed, and you will no longer have your dignity or honor. Such is the disposition of antichrists. They always present themselves as all-rounders who can do everything, who are capable and knowledgeable in all things. This means trouble, doesn’t it? If they had an honest attitude, what would they do? They would say, ‘I’m not an expert at this, I just have a little experience in it, but now the skills we require are more complex than before. I’ve already told you everything I’m able to do, and I don’t understand the new problems we’re faced with. If we’re going to perform our duty well, we’ll need to gain some more technical expertise. Once we’ve gotten a handle on that, we’ll be able to perform our duty effectively. God entrusted this duty to us, and it’s our responsibility to do it well. In the spirit of that, we should gain some more technical expertise.’ That is the practice of the truth. If someone had an antichrist’s disposition, they would not do this. If they had a bit of sense, they would say something like, ‘This is all I know how to do. Don’t overestimate me, and I won’t put on airs—it’ll be easier that way, right? It’s such a pain to always be posturing and pretending. If we don’t know how to do something, we’ll learn how to do it together. We need to cooperate to perform our duty properly. We all need to have a responsible attitude.’ When people see this, they think, ‘This person’s better than the rest of us. When something comes up, they don’t make wild claims about their skill, and they don’t foist things off onto others or try to shirk responsibility. Instead, they take things upon themselves, and do them with a serious and responsible attitude. This is a good person, with a responsible, serious attitude toward the work and their duty. They’re trustworthy. It was right of God’s house to hand this important project over to them. God really does scrutinize man’s innermost being!’ By performing their duty like this, this person is able to refine their skills, and win everybody’s approval. Where does this approval come from? Firstly, it comes from that person’s serious and responsible attitude toward their duty. Secondly, it comes from their ability to be an honest person, with an attitude of pragmatism and willingness to learn. And thirdly, one cannot rule out the possibility that they are guided and enlightened by the Holy Spirit. This kind of person has God’s blessing, and this is something that people with conscience and sense can achieve. They may be corrupt and deficient, and there may be many things they can’t do, but their path of practice is the right one. They do not pretend or deceive, they have a serious and responsible attitude toward their duty, and a pious and yearning attitude toward the truth. Antichrists will never be capable of those things, because the way they think will never be the same as people who love and pursue the truth. Why is that? Because they have the nature of Satan. They live by a satanic disposition in order to achieve their aim of taking power. They are always trying, by different means, to hatch plots and schemes, beguiling people by hook or by crook into worshiping and following them. So, in order to pull the wool over people’s eyes, they think of all sorts of ways to disguise themselves, to deceive, to lie, to hoodwink people—to make people believe that they are always right, that they know everything, and can do everything; that they are smarter and wiser and understand more than others; that they are better than others at everything, that they surpass others in everything, and even that they are the best person in any group. This is the kind of need they have; this is the disposition of an antichrist. So they learn to pretend, which gives rise to all sorts of practices and behaviors(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part Three)). Antichrists are treacherous and evil by nature. To maintain their status and reputation, there is nothing they won’t do; they put on a false front, tell lies and deceive others. I thought of an antichrist that had been expelled from our church: To establish himself and win admiration, he wouldn’t seek help when faced with issues, and pretended to know more than he did, happy to delay the church’s work in order to maintain his status and image. He would only mention his successes and not his failures, disrupting the church’s work on several occasions, but never repenting. For this, he was ultimately expelled from the church. I compared his behavior to my own: I didn’t focus on seeking the truth and principles in my duty, didn’t accept God’s scrutiny or work in a down-to-earth way, and always put up a false front to seek others’ admiration. There was clearly a problem with my design, but despite not having a clear concept of how to edit it, I didn’t seek and discuss anything with my brothers and sisters, instead determined to fix it on my own. I didn’t consider the church’s work, and as long as there was still the slightest hope, I didn’t want to expose my shortcomings, as if delaying the church’s work wasn’t a big deal and what was most important was to maintain my image. I did everything to conceal what threatened my image and status, even if it was incredibly draining and arduous to do so. I felt that losing my so-called “good image” would be like losing my life. My actions betrayed an antichrist’s disposition. Realizing this, I felt a bit afraid. I may not have done all manners of evil like an antichrist, but I was always seeking reputation, status and the admiration of others, even acting treacherously and deceiving others. If I didn’t resolve this disposition, I would eventually be exposed by God and cast out. So I prayed to God and repented, willing to cast aside my vanity and status to practice by His words.

Later on, if there were problems with my designs that I couldn’t handle myself, I would quickly contact someone and open up in fellowship, seeking and listening to their suggestions. Sometimes, I would also have them design together with me. One time, I had another problem with a design and failed to make progress even after thinking it over for a while. My leader asked about my progress and I wanted to lie, but I quickly realized that I was trying to maintain status and reputation again. Then, God’s word came to me: “If you hold nothing back, if you do not put on a front, a pretense, a facade, if you lay yourself bare to the brothers and sisters, do not hide your innermost ideas and thoughts, but instead allow others to see your honest attitude, then the truth will gradually take root in you, it will blossom and bear fruit, it will yield results, little-by-little. If your heart is increasingly honest, and increasingly oriented toward God, and if you know to protect the interests of God’s house when you perform your duty, and your conscience is troubled when you fail to protect these interests, then this is proof that the truth has had an effect in you, and has become your life(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). God’s words were deeply motivating. I knew I shouldn’t continue to put up a false front; I had to face my inadequacies honestly and calmly. No matter what others thought of me, I had to tell the truth, and seek a resolution with the others. There happened to be a work gathering that day, so I opened up in fellowship about my problems and corruption. After speaking, I felt at ease. When I discussed everything with the others, they helped me come up with a way to fix the design, and soon after, I completed the edit. I was so happy! I could feel how great opening up and being honest really is! It was all through God’s salvation that I was able to realize this and achieve transformation. Thank God!

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