What Causes a Negative State
By Xinche, South Korea
I have been watering newcomers for the past two years. Once, the leader came to talk with us about our work, saying that while observing our work during this stretch of time, he noticed some waterers weren’t seeing the true essence of newcomers’ problems, and weren’t resolving their issues, just offering encouragement and advice, causing some to not normally attend gatherings, and rendering watering work ineffective. This meant the waterers weren’t fulfilling their function. Hearing the leader say this made my heart sink. “Ineffective,” “not fulfilling their function,” these words were really hard to hear, and made me feel depressed and gloomy. I’d been watering newcomers this whole time. When the leader said this, he must also have meant me. I thought how I had put more effort into watering than any other job, and how diligent I was when dealing with every newcomer. I put genuine effort into pondering their state and difficulties and offering fellowship. Sometimes newcomers had various reasons for not attending gatherings, or certain newcomers would be temperamental and not respond to messages. Even though it was hard to take, through prayer and reading, I was willing to forsake myself. Also, I’m not good with words, but I made an effort to overcome my obstacles; regardless of how newcomers treated me, I helped them with love and patience. I felt I’d already done my best. Even though you couldn’t say I was extremely effective, at least I had made some improvements in the work, and newcomers said I was helpful. I never thought the leader would see everything I did as ineffective or not fulfilling my function. After the meeting ended, I wanted to cry. I suddenly felt lifeless, and I was overcome with negative emotions, thinking: “I admit I still have a lot of shortcomings and room for improvement in my duty, but I’m not completely ineffective. I’ve done my best, so why weren’t my efforts recognized? If none of my effort is having an effect, then I really don’t know how else to approach my duty. Maybe I’m just not suited to watering newcomers.” So I lived in a state of negativity, and had no motivation during my duty. Before, when I saw some newcomers hadn’t come to a gathering, I would be really concerned and anxious, and would lose no time in asking the newcomers why they weren’t there. After listening to their problems and difficulties, I would do all I could to fellowship and help. But now when I saw newcomers weren’t attending gatherings, I didn’t worry as much, I just went through the motions when I met with them, and didn’t put thought into how I could make my fellowship more effective. I wanted to push the task of watering difficult newcomers on to other people. I felt since my fellowship wasn’t effective anyway, and didn’t solve their problems, why should I bother being so diligent and proactive? No one noticed all the thought I put in and the sacrifices I made. So what’s the point? On the surface, I was performing my duty as usual, but my state was “take it or leave it,” and my heart was far from God. I didn’t have much to say during prayer; I couldn’t muster the effort.
It wasn’t until later, when I read a passage from God’s word, that I began to understand my negative state. God says, “When many people perform their duty, there are always motivations and impurities, they always try to distinguish themselves, they always like to be praised and encouraged, and if they do something well, they always want some payoff or reward; if there is no reward, they are indifferent to performing their duty, and if there is no one to watch or encourage them, they become passive. They are as unstable as children. What is going on here—why do such people never put aside these motivations and impurities? This is chiefly because they do not accept the truth; as a result, no matter how you fellowship the truth with them, they are incapable of putting these things aside. If these issues are never resolved, then as time goes on, people easily become passive, and increasingly indifferent toward performing their duty. Seeing words from God about being praised or blessed, they become a little enthusiastic, and are a little motivated; but if no one fellowships the truth with them, if no one motivates or praises them, they grow indifferent. If people frequently laud, compliment, and praise them, they feel everything is going extremely well, and in their hearts, they are sure that God is constantly watching and blessing them, and they feel that God is with them, too, and so their extravagant desires are fulfilled. When full use is made of their skills and talents, this gives them face, and they are so happy they skip along the street, their faces beaming. Is this the effect of pursuing the truth? (No.) This is simply their desires being fulfilled. What disposition is this? This is an arrogant disposition. They don’t have the slightest self-awareness, but have extravagant desires. Faced with some adversity or difficulty, or if their pride and vanity are not fulfilled, or if their interests are even the slightest bit compromised, they become paralyzed by passivity. Before, they stood as tall as a giant, but in just a few days they have turned into a pile of mud—the difference is huge. If they are someone who pursues the truth, how could they become paralyzed so quickly? Clearly, people who are propped up by zealousness, desires, and ambition are very weak; when they encounter some setback or failure, they are paralyzed. Seeing their imaginings come to nothing and their desires are unfulfilled, they lose hope and immediately fall. What this shows is that regardless of how enthusiastic they were about their duty at the time, this was not because they understood the truth. They were performing their duty with the hope of being blessed, and because of zealousness. No matter how zealous people are, or how many words of doctrine they are able to preach, if they are incapable of practicing the truth, if they cannot perform their duty according to principle, if they only rely on zealousness, they won’t be able to last for long, and faced with tribulation or disaster, they will not be able to stand firm, and will fall” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Resolve Their Notions and Misunderstandings of God” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s word described my actual state. In the past, I felt I was very diligent in performing my duties; no matter how many difficulties or shortcomings I had, I was willing to overcome them, and was not afraid of hard work. When I encountered setbacks, I wiped my tears and kept going. So why couldn’t I muster the strength now? It turns out it was because the “burden” and “diligence” I had in the past rested on the precondition of my desire being satisfied, rather than fulfilling my duty to satisfy God. I was motivated to do my duty when others praised me, but when I was pruned and dealt with, I slumped into negativity. I thought my effort wasn’t accomplishing anything, so I became passive and slack, taking my frustrations out on my duty, and even regretted taking up this duty. I was so lacking in conscience! Actually, I had gained a lot while watering newcomers. I was more clear on how to solve problems by fellowshiping on the truth. Through watering newcomers, I learned to think hard, be responsible, and became more mature. These were all real benefits. I had gained so much, yet one hurtful word from the leader, and I thought I hadn’t gotten anything. I didn’t know what was good for me. After realizing this, I felt awful. I couldn’t continue being so gloomy; I had to hurry up and seek the truth and fix my negative state.
Afterward, I began reflecting on myself. Why did I have such a big reaction when the leader said one thing I didn’t like? I read some of God’s words. “Under normal circumstances, a kind of intransigent and rebellious state exists in the depths of people’s hearts—which is chiefly because, in their hearts, they have a certain kind of human logic and human notions, which are this: ‘As long as my intentions are right, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, you shouldn’t deal with me, and if you do, I don’t have to obey.’ They do not reflect on whether their actions are in line with the principles of the truth, or what the consequences will be. What they stick to is always, ‘As long as my intentions are good and right, God should accept me. Even if the outcome is bad, He must not prune or deal with me, much less ought He to condemn me.’ This is human reasoning, is it not? These are the notions of man, are they not? Man always fixates on this kind of reasoning—is there any obedience in it? You have made your own reasoning the truth and put the truth to one side. You believe that that which agrees with your reasoning is the truth, and that which doesn’t is not. Is there anyone more ridiculous? Is there anyone more arrogant and conceited? Which of people’s states does learning the lesson of obedience chiefly solve? It solves people’s arrogant and conceited disposition, and it solves the most rebellious of all dispositions: the tendency to reasoning. When people are able to accept the truth and stop coming out with their own reasoning, this problem of rebelliousness will be solved, and they will be capable of obedience. And if people are to be able to attain obedience, do they need to be possessed of a certain degree of rationality? They must be possessed of a normal person’s sense. In some matter, for example: Regardless of whether we have done the right thing or not, if God is not satisfied, we should do as God says, God’s words are the standard for everything. Is this rational? Such is the sense that ought to be found in people before anything else. No matter how much we suffer, and no matter what our intentions, aims, and reasons are, if God is not satisfied—if God’s requirements have not been met—then our actions have unquestionably not been in line with the truth, so we must listen to and obey God, and should not try to reason or rationalize with God. When you possess such rationality, when you possess a normal person’s sense, it is easy to solve your problems, and you will be truly obedient, and no matter what situation you are in, you will not be disobedient, and will not defy God’s requirements, you will not analyze whether what God asks is right or wrong, good or bad, you will be able to obey—thus solving your state of reasoning, intransigence, and rebelliousness. Does everyone have these rebellious states within them? These states often appear in people, and they think to themselves, ‘As long as my approach, propositions, and suggestions are sensible, then even if I do things wrong, I should not be pruned or dealt with, and I can refuse to be pruned or dealt with.’ This is a common state in people, and is the primary difficulty in them being incapable of obeying God. If people truly understand the truth, they will be able to effectively solve this kind of rebellious state. No matter how much people try to reason, this is not the truth. People who are without the truth are always trying to reason with God, and have great trouble obeying” (“The Five Conditions That Must Be Met to Embark on the Right Track of Belief in God” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). After reading God’s words, I was clearer as to the reason behind my negativity: The reason I became negative after hearing the leader say some waterers weren’t effective was because my disposition was intransigent, arrogant, and I thought highly of myself. When someone’s opinion of me was not to my liking, it was really hard for me to accept and submit. Outwardly, I didn’t dare argue the point, but my heart rejected it. I thought I had put effort into my work as a waterer and had done my best. No matter what, in my heart I wanted to do my duty well. So long as I had good intentions, worked hard, and made sacrifices, no one could say I wasn’t effective. That would be unfair to me. But I never considered whether this reasoning was the truth, and whether my duty was actually effective. Although I put in effort, because I didn’t understand the truth and was inexperienced, when a newcomer faced real problems in their life or work, many times all I could do was say a few words of doctrine to encourage them. I was unable to resolve their problems by fellowshiping on the truth, making newcomers understand God’s will, or providing a path of practice. Also, there were times when my work was unprincipled because I didn’t understand the truth, and it caused damage to church work. I didn’t view people and things according to God’s word, or discern people’s true essence, and was blindly good to some nonbelievers, always supporting and helping them. It turns out it was a lot of work for nothing. These nonbelievers stayed in the church and dispersed their notions, disturbing other newcomers. Looking back, my work really hadn’t brought any real results, and didn’t have any significant substantial function. When the leader exposed my problems, not only did I not accept it, I was negative, resistant, and difficult. I was being so unreasonable! Given how I’d handled my job, I should have been grateful that the church let me continue watering newcomers. I should have seen how far I was from doing my duty up to standard, and worked harder at the truth, and considered and reflected on whether my duty had any practical effect, and what issues, deviations or mistakes were still lingering. This was the only way to achieve growth, and perform my duty properly.
I read this in God’s words. “There are principles to how God behaves toward people who are often negative. God surveys man’s innermost heart; when people are constantly negative, there is a problem here. God has said so much, expressed so many truths, so why do they not seek the truth in God’s words? Why do they not accept the truth? They are perennially disgruntled with what God does, they do not practice the truth at all, so will God still pay them any attention? Are such people not impervious to reason? What is God’s attitude toward those who are impervious to reason? He casts them aside and ignores them. Believe in whatever manner you wish; whether or not you believe is up to you; if you truly believe, and pursue, then you shall reap the rewards; if you do not believe, do not pursue, then you shall not. God treats every person fairly. If your attitude is not one of accepting the truth and not one of submission, and if you do not conform to God’s requirements, then believe what you will; also, if you would rather leave, you may do so at once. If you do not wish to do your duty, then leave at once, off to wherever you like, and do not make a disgraceful scene. God does not urge such people to stay. That is His attitude” (“Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Embark on the Right Track of Belief in God (3)” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Reading God’s words of exposure, I was afraid, and felt that God’s disposition does not tolerate offense. I couldn’t accept words from the leader that were factual, but had unreasonable and vying thoughts, and was passive and slack at work. I wasn’t accepting the truth, I was fed up with it! God was disgusted by and hated my attitude towards the truth. God’s attitude towards people like me is clear: He will cast them aside. In actuality I was nothing, yet I had such a high opinion of myself. I wasn’t clear on my true stature, caliber, or work ability, and always wanted approval and praise from people. I wanted status in others’ eyes, and for them to think I was something. I was so arrogant and unreasonable! After I saw my problem clearly, I quickly prayed to God, “God, I can’t admit what I truly am, I’m so numb. I don’t want to continue being this negative. Please lead me to perform my duty well.”
After this, I sought a path of practice in God’s words, and saw these words. “No matter what, passivity should not be cured by passive and negative means. Some people think that if they wait until they’re happy, their passivity will naturally turn to joy. This is a fantasy. If people do not accept the truth, their passivity cannot be dispelled. Even if you forget it, and have no sense of it in your heart, this still doesn’t mean the passivity has been resolved at the root; as soon as you are faced with the right environment, it will attack again—this is extremely common. If people are smart and have sense, they should quickly seek the truth when the passivity appears, using acceptance of the truth as a means of curing it. Acting thus, they will fix the problem of passivity from the root. For everyone who is often passive, this is caused by the inability to accept the truth. … If you are plunged into passivity because of a single thing, a single sentence, or a single idea or opinion, and grievances appear in your heart, this proves that your knowledge of this matter is deviant, that you have notions and imaginings, and that your view of this matter is surely incompatible with the truth. Such times require you to face the matter correctly, to strive to turn around these mistaken notions and imaginings as early and promptly as possible, to not allow yourself to be hobbled and misled by these notions, and plunged into a state of disobedience, dissatisfaction, and grievances toward God. It is crucial that passivity be solved promptly and thoroughly. Of course, regardless of the means or method, the best approach is simply to seek the truth, read more of God’s words, and come before God to seek the enlightenment of God” (Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). “It isn’t easy to perform one’s duty well to satisfy God, and achieve fear of God and shunning of evil. But I tell you a principle of practice: If you have an attitude of seeking and obedience when something happens to you, this will protect you. The ultimate goal isn’t to have you protected. It is to make you understand the truth, and be able to enter into the reality of the truth, and attain God’s salvation; this is the ultimate goal. If you have this attitude in all that you experience, you will no longer feel that performing your duty and meeting the will of God are empty words and cliches; it will no longer feel so taxing. Instead, before you realize it, you will come to understand quite a few truths. If you try to experience thus, you will be sure to reap the rewards. It doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, how educated you are, how many years you have believed in God, or what duty you perform. As long as you have a seeking and submissive attitude, as long as you experience in this way, then ultimately, you will be sure to understand the truth and enter into the reality of the truth” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days, Part Three). God’s words offered me a path of practice. When encountering things that conflict with your views or cause negative emotions, you should quickly come before God and pray and seek truth, and have an attitude of obedience. Even if you feel wronged or confused, start by not resisting or arguing, and reflect on what problems you have, what areas you have not done well at, and could improve or do better. Even if you don’t recognize them right away, you should look for relevant words from God to read, or seek fellowship from someone who understands the truth. With this attitude of acceptance towards the truth, it’s easy to gain God’s enlightenment, recognize your problems, and know which principles of truth to enter. In the future, I can’t use a negative, resistant attitude to deal with situations; this will only hurt me. Even with many experiences, I’ll never learn my lesson, or gain truth. I won’t grow or reap benefits.
Later, when the leader examined my work, I realized that my sloppy, passive, and slack attitude had already affected the church’s work. Some newcomers had been misled by religious pastors, got notions in their heads about God, and left the gathering group. Some were misled by rumors spread by the CCP, and stopped attending gatherings. When I saw these problems, I was very afraid and hated myself. What had I done all this time? I’d done no practical work, just wallowed in my own negativity. I used to think it was only my life entry that suffered when I lived in a negative state. I did everything my duty required, and did not vent my negativity, or intentionally disrupt the church’s work. At most I was just hurting myself. But in reality, living in negativity caused glaring problems to go unsolved, responsibilities to be unattended to, a lack of loyalty to my duty, and it hindered the work of the church. At this thought, I really regretted my past. Why didn’t I rush before God and seek truth as soon as I fell into negativity? If I sought truth and reversed my state in a timely manner, even if my caliber and the problems I realized were limited, at least it wouldn’t have gotten this bad. At this thought, my heart was filled with remorse and guilt. I prayed to God, saying that I needed to make up for this with real action, and put more importance on seeking principles of truth in my duty. When I was no longer living in negativity and did my best to do practical work, I felt relieved and at peace, and my state returned to normal. I was able to learn from situations and reap benefits. Afterward, when doing my duty, problems and deviations would sometimes come up in work, and I was admonished and dealt with by my leader. I still felt a bit negative, but I knew that there was something to learn here, and the problem was definitely mine; I wasn’t working according to principle. I couldn’t continue to be intransigent; I had to seek the truth and reflect on myself. With this attitude, my negative state quickly resolved itself, and each time the leader admonished and dealt with me, I was better able to recognize deviations and shortcomings in my duty, and understand some principles of truth. This experience has truly impressed upon me how crucial it is to accept the truth. Accepting the truth gives you a path forward, and your duty will become more and more effective.