Pursuing the Truth Changed Me
By Ou Lin, Myanmar
In May 2018, I left home to join the military. In the army, when a leader issued a command, the lower ranks obediently did as they were told. When supervising our work, the leaders ordered us around, and they were so imposing. I really admired them. The highest leader among the female soldiers had money and power. When she brought her daughter to our army, everyone greeted her with smiles. Upper leadership often told us that we had to be driven, then we could eventually be like her. At that point I swore to myself that I would strive to become a leader. I thought having status and admiration would be so prestigious. From then on, I did my utmost to make myself look good, and I followed everything the leaders said to the letter. I performed very well in front of the leaders, and they really liked me. Before long, they promoted me to be the head of the unit. I was elated. I was even more obedient toward the leaders after my promotion. I took the lead in our daily work and didn’t dare slack off. When I saw the lower-ranked soldiers slacking, I put on a stern face and threatened them with repercussions. Some of them didn’t like it and said nasty things about me behind my back. I was thinking I had to keep working hard to make a good show and get a higher position so that the lower soldiers would listen to me. Through my hard work, I was promoted again, to squad leader. I felt that was really respectable. Also, the privates started listening to me after I became a squad leader. But squad leaders still have to perform labor, and that’s tiring, so I thought I had to keep climbing the ranks. With a higher rank, I’d have more power and wouldn’t have to do any labor. That would be great! To attain a higher rank, I put my head down and worked hard every day, and urged the privates to do the same. We always got the tasks assigned by leaders done ahead of schedule. The leaders were pretty happy with my work, and before long I was promoted to platoon leader.
I found ways to get the privates to listen to me in order to protect my position as platoon leader, to make sure our platoon didn’t fall behind the others. When the privates didn’t listen to me, I made them stand as punishment or do pushups. They listened to me more after that. They didn’t dare slack off in front of me anymore and were very respectful. I was really happy. But I was also under a lot of pressure, and the upper leader would tell me off if I didn’t do a good job. To avoid criticism and gain some praise, I was always scolding the soldiers with a stern tone when we were handling tasks. After a while, they didn’t like my temperament and really loathed me. They’d say nice things to my face, but said lots of bad things about me behind my back. I felt really uncomfortable when I found out. Also sometimes when we didn’t complete our tasks, I faced criticism from the leaders. At that point I thought that maybe if I was one rank higher I wouldn’t be scolded anymore, and I wouldn’t be under so much pressure. Then I’d also gain more people’s respect. I started quietly working toward that goal.
Then finally one day, the captain said to me happily that out of all the platoon leaders, I was the one she had the most confidence in, and if she were ever to stop serving as captain, I’d take her place. I was incredibly excited to hear that. I never knew how much she trusted me. I took on the position of captain before long. More and more of the privates looked up to me and I was respected everywhere I went. I wasn’t performing labor anymore, and I had more time off. I really enjoyed the feeling of superiority I got from the position of captain. But after a little while, some of those who’d been promoted to platoon leader along with me got jealous and wouldn’t follow my orders. I was really angry and felt like I’d lost face, so I thought of all sorts of ways to get them to listen to me. But they still wouldn’t. I felt like I couldn’t keep them in check, but for the sake of my status, I had to force myself to hang in there. I was thinking that having a higher position with lots of power wasn’t as illustrious as I’d thought. I always disciplined my subordinates when they didn’t do what I said, and I was getting more of a temper. Also, I was usually worried that upper leaders would say I couldn’t handle the privates and they might think I was incompetent. Maybe I’d even lose my position as captain. It was very stressful, and very tiring. I really wanted to quit, but then I thought about how so many people would love to be a captain and it hadn’t been easy for me to get there, so wouldn’t it be a shame to resign? I felt helpless, so I just tolerated the stress and plodded through each day.
In August 2020, I had the good fortune to accept Almighty God’s work of the last days. I started reading God’s words daily, and attended gatherings with the brothers and sisters. I felt really happy and I enjoyed it a lot. One day, I read a passage of God’s words. “Satan uses a very subtle kind of method, a method very much in concert with people’s notions, which is not at all radical, through which it causes people to unknowingly accept its way of living, its rules to live by, and to establish life goals and their direction in life, and in doing so they also unknowingly come to have ambitions in life. No matter how grand these life ambitions may seem, they are inextricably linked to ‘fame’ and ‘gain.’ Everything that any great or famous person—all people, in fact—follow in life relates only to these two words: ‘fame’ and ‘gain.’ People think that once they have fame and gain, they can then capitalize on those things to enjoy high status and great wealth, and to enjoy life. They think fame and gain are a kind of capital that they can use to obtain a life of pleasure-seeking and wanton enjoyment of the flesh. For the sake of this fame and gain which mankind so covets, people willingly, albeit unknowingly, hand over their bodies, minds, all that they have, their futures and their destinies, to Satan. They do so without even a moment’s hesitation, ever ignorant of the need to recover all that they have handed over. Can people retain any control over themselves once they have taken refuge in Satan in this way and become loyal to it? Certainly not. They are completely and utterly controlled by Satan. They have completely and utterly sunk into a quagmire, and are unable to free themselves” (The Word, Vol. 1. God’s Work and Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI). God’s words showed me that people’s lives are so painful and stressful entirely because of their ways of living and the wrong paths they decide to walk. After being corrupted by Satan, everyone tries to stand out from the crowd and gain power. They think that with status and power, they’ll gain respect and admiration, that people will listen to them, and they’ll live in glory. So people all love name and gain, adore status, and pursue status. I was the same way. After joining the army, I wanted to become number one among the female soldiers and gain others’ admiration. To reach that goal, I climbed the ranks step by step, getting promoted to platoon leader, then captain. As my rank climbed and I oversaw more people, I’d speak and act in an officious way, and I liked lording over people, scolding them. Whether I was right or wrong, the privates had to listen. To solidify my position, when those platoon leaders wouldn’t listen to me, I used my power to stifle them, and punished the privates in all sorts of ways. I was always imperious and had no empathy for others. The privates gradually became more distant from me and didn’t want to interact with me. I saw that after I gained some status, I became a frightening person. Sometimes I wanted to have a heart-to-heart with someone, but I didn’t know who. So I wouldn’t be chewed out by leaders, I’d be really obsequious with them and endure any humiliation. Every day of my life was stressful and painful, and I really wanted to resign, but the moment I thought about how my status benefited me, I didn’t want to give up. I was stuck in that mire of name and gain, which was exhausting and miserable. At that point I realized this is one of the ways that Satan corrupts and hurts people. Pursuing status inflates people’s wild desires more and more, making them increasingly arrogant and dismissive toward others, so they can’t have normal relationships. Before I gained my faith, I always felt that pursuing status and seeking to stand out above the rest was having ambition and promise. Now I understand that pursuing name and status isn’t the right path. When I realized all this, I said a prayer, asking God to guide me to be freed from the bonds of name and status.
Then one day, I went to The Church of Almighty God’s website to download hymns and I saw a new one called “I’m Just a Tiny Created Being”:
1 Oh God! Whether I have status or not, I now understand myself. If my status is high it is because of Your elevation, and if it is low it is because of Your ordination. Everything is in Your hands. I have neither any choices, nor any complaints. You ordained that I would be born in this country and among this people, and all that I should do is to be completely obedient under Your dominion because everything is within what You have ordained.
2 I do not give thought to status; after all, I am but a creature. If You place me in the bottomless pit, in the lake of fire and brimstone, I am nothing but a creature. If You use me, I am a creature. If You perfect me, I am yet a creature. If You do not perfect me, I will still love You because I am no more than a creature.
3 I am nothing more than a minuscule creature created by the Lord of creation, just one among all created humans. It was You who created me, and now You have once again placed me in Your hands to do with me as You will. I am willing to be Your tool and Your foil because everything is what You have ordained. No one can change it. All things and all events are in Your hands.
Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs
Listening to this hymn, I felt like the lyrics were really novel. I realized that having status or not is all determined by God, that it’s all in His hands, and I shouldn’t pursue that. I was a captain, but before God I was just an insignificant created being without any status. I shouldn’t hold others down. Thinking about how I’d stifled the privates, I felt really guilty and upset. I wanted to give up my status and get along well with them. I prayed to God and asked Him to help me. Gradually, I became able to put myself aside and try to communicate with them, and stop imperiously scolding them. When I applied God’s words to my real life that way, I gained such a sense of peace.
Then one morning we had a meeting. A platoon leader under my charge didn’t see if everyone in her platoon was there and didn’t count heads. The people in our unit were about to be late, and were the slowest out of all the units. I was worried that the upper leader might think my management skills were lacking, and about what the privates would think. After the meeting, I asked her really angrily, “Where were you just now? Why didn’t you ask for time off? No one was counting heads in your platoon. You’re holding up our entire unit.” But she wasn’t having it, and immediately cut me off. We started arguing. Then the drillmaster came and asked why we were arguing. We each explained our own sides, and the drillmaster said she didn’t know what to do or who was in the wrong. I was incensed to hear this and thought that she not only wouldn’t listen to me, but she cut me off, so didn’t that mean she was wrong? Also, I was her superior, so she should have listened to me. Wasn’t it ludicrous that the drillmaster didn’t know who was right and who was wrong? I was so mad that I stormed off and slammed the door. I got back to the barracks and was feeling so wronged, I couldn’t stop my tears. When the commander found out about our argument, she said to the platoon leader, “She’s your captain, so whatever she says is right and you should listen to her.” When the platoon leader kept arguing her case, the commander angrily rebuked her, “In our company, the captain has the right to tell you what’s what, and you’re wrong if you don’t listen.” Hearing the commander say that to her, I felt like I’d gotten to vent my feelings. I was really happy and felt like I’d gained some face.
One day in my daily devotionals, I read some of God’s words that helped me see that. God’s words say, “Once a man has status, he will often find it difficult to control his mood, and so he will enjoy seizing upon opportunities to express his dissatisfaction and vent his emotions; he will often flare up in rage for no apparent reason, so as to reveal his ability and let others know that his status and identity are different from those of ordinary people. Of course, corrupt people without any status also often lose control. Their anger is frequently caused by damage to their private interests. In order to protect their own status and dignity, they will frequently vent their emotions and reveal their arrogant nature. Man will flare up in anger and vent his emotions in order to defend and uphold the existence of sin, and these actions are the ways in which man expresses his dissatisfaction; they brim with impurities, with schemes and intrigues, with man’s corruption and evil, and more than anything else, they brim with man’s wild ambitions and desires. … Man’s venting is an escape for evil forces, an expression of the rampant and unstoppable evil conduct of the fleshly man” (The Word, Vol. 1. God’s Work and Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique II). “There are many kinds of corrupt dispositions that are included within the disposition of Satan, but the one that is most obvious and that stands out the most is an arrogant disposition. Arrogance is the root of man’s corrupt disposition. The more arrogant people are, the more irrational they are, and the more irrational they are, the more liable they are to resist God. How serious is this problem? Not only do people with arrogant dispositions consider everyone else beneath them, but, worst of all, they are even condescending toward God, and they have no fear of God within their hearts. Even though people might appear to believe in God and follow Him, they do not treat Him as God at all. They always feel that they possess the truth and think the world of themselves. This is the essence and root of the arrogant disposition, and it comes from Satan. Therefore, the problem of arrogance must be resolved. Feeling that one is better than others—that is a trivial matter. The critical issue is that one’s arrogant disposition prevents one from submitting to God, His rule, and His arrangements; such a person always feels inclined to compete with God for power over others. This sort of person does not revere God in the slightest, to say nothing of loving God or submitting to Him. People who are arrogant and conceited, especially those who are so arrogant as to have lost their sense, cannot submit to God in their belief in Him, and even exalt and bear testimony for themselves. Such people resist God the most and have absolutely no fear of God” (The Word, Vol. 2. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). God’s words are so clear. People become out of control and arrogant with status. They often reveal a temper and scold people to protect their face and status, and show off their authority. That’s the control of an arrogant disposition. When I joined the military, my pursuit was to be an officer and gain others’ esteem. After gaining rank and power, I felt like my words had authority and I took priority. I was the captain, so I had the power to control the platoon leaders and the privates. They should listen to me, and if they didn’t, I imperiously scolded them and put them in their place. I was so arrogant. When the platoon leader didn’t do a head count in time, holding up our unit’s progress, I gave her a piece of my mind, and she not only didn’t listen, but interrupted me. I felt like she thought nothing of me, that she looked down on me and made me lose face in front of everyone. I used this as an excuse to make a fuss, to blow up on her and vent my dissatisfaction. It was also to warn the privates that they needed to be obedient. As I saw it, I was a captain and she was a platoon leader, so she should listen to me. If she didn’t, and even contradicted me, I had to scold her and show her what’s what. I was so arrogant and out of control. Once I had status, as soon as someone didn’t listen to me, I blew up at them, using my position to oppress them and force them to do what I wanted. As a result, no one wanted anything to do with me. I was a believer, but I hadn’t changed. I was unreasonably arrogant and without any human likeness, so people despised and avoided me, and God was disgusted and hated it.
I talked with a sister about my experiences, and she sent me a passage of God’s words that gave me a path of practice. “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” (The Word, Vol. 1. God’s Work and Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique I). After reading God’s words I understood that trying to be lofty, to gain people’s admiration and esteem is something shameful. We should stay in our place and behave conscientiously. That’s what God asks of us. I was trying to get ahead, to become an official with power, to lord over others, be admired, and have others listen to me. That’s something God despises. If I didn’t repent, but kept pursuing name and status, I’d be exactly the same as an unbeliever. Unbelievers go after money, reputation, and status. They kill and fight with each other over these things. As a believer, I shouldn’t stay on the path of an unbeliever. I should pursue the truth and take my place as a created being. Realizing this, I resolved that I was ready to pursue the truth and act by God’s words in my daily life. I should take an equal footing with others and stop ordering the others around from the stance of a captain. I prayed to God, “Oh God, I want to stop pursuing name and status, and to stop living by my arrogant disposition. Please guide me to practice the truth.”
After that, I started checking in with them every day and showing concern for them. When they did something wrong and the leader wanted me to discipline them, I wasn’t like before, scolding them and brandishing my authority to maintain my status, but I was able to connect with them, to tell them where their error was and give them a chance to do better next time. After a little while of doing things this way, I had a good relationship with the squad leaders, platoon leaders, and the privates. Some of the privates told me that I used to have a weird temperament, that they were afraid of me, always worried I’d scold them for a mistake. But now I was much better, and began to care about them. They felt better interacting with me. Hearing this, I gave thanks to God and I told them, “Do you know why I made this change? It’s because I accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. Almighty God’s words changed me, and that’s the only reason I have this change. Before coming to God, I pursued status and others’ admiration. I was always scolding you guys to maintain my position. After gaining my faith, and through reading Almighty God’s words, I learned that haughtily scolding people isn’t right, that it’s from a corrupt disposition, and I shouldn’t do that. This change I’ve experienced wasn’t something I could have done on my own. It was because of my faith in Almighty God—His words changed me.” They could hardly believe it. I kept sharing the gospel with them, and smiles appeared on some privates’ faces. They became interested in exploring God’s work of the last days. After that, some platoon leaders, squad leaders, and privates accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days. We gathered together, ate and drank God’s words, got along great, and shared the gospel and bore witness. Thank Almighty God!
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