By Chengyi, Canada
Youth is like a canvas on which each of us paints our own life. Looking back, we will find that the Creator’s love accompanies us all the time.
The Gloomy Days of My Youth
I was born in the 1990s. After graduating from middle school, I entered a vocational high school, hoping to live out my college dream. However, because I was addicted to novels, my academic performance declined sharply, which dashed my dream.
I remembered it was in a Chinese language class. Bored with the stodgy textbook, I began to doze off. At that time, my deskmate gave me a novel How a Boss of Underworld Are Made, which tells a story about how the protagonist turns from an obedient student into a cruel boss of the underworld. Then I began to read it to kill time. The plot of the novel was full of twists and excitement, and my heart became drawn to it.
In the beginning, I only secretly read novels in lessons which weren’t important. To avoid being caught by teachers, my classmates and I often covered for each other. After a period of time, I became more and more addicted to novels, to the extent that I even read novels in the lessons given by our head teacher. Once when reading novels, I was caught by my teacher and my novel was confiscated. Since then, I began to use cellphone to read novels in class and physical books in the dormitory. From day to night, I read novels untiringly.
As I indulged in the world of novels, my emotions often changed with the feelings of the protagonists in the novels, and my mind was occupied with all things happening in novels, be it the macho male bonding, or the romantic love.
In a blink of an eye, two years passed. One afternoon, my deskmate said to me, “Our teacher had a talk with me, asking me to keep away from you, because you are a bad student. You used to study well, but because of reading novels, your academic performance has been going downhill for a long time.” Hearing the deskmate, I smiled with contempt and pretended that I didn’t care. But when I was alone, thinking of how my teacher called me a bad student, I felt somewhat distressed. In those two years, because of being addicted to novels, I had no interest in study, and often played hooky from school. My teachers could do nothing to me but give me the cold shoulder. As a result, my place in class dropped from the top ten to the tenth from the bottom. Besides, I became more rebellious. When the teacher scolded me, I would bear hatred against him, for my pride was hurt. When my parents exhorted me to stop playing with my cellphone and pay more attention to study, I would feel annoyed and even refuse to talk with them for the reason of generation gap. Facing these, my parents could do nothing to me.
Because I often spent long hours reading novels, I suffered from short sight and was often in an absent-minded trance. Even so, I couldn’t extricate myself from the world of novels, fancying myself as an elegant and imposing person who was admired and respected by people, like protagonists in novels. As my brain was occupied with the violence and killing of the novels, I gradually became irascible. In real life, when others did something displeased me, I would become aggressive and think: How dare you mess with me? See how I’ll fix you. Unknowingly, I changed from a positive and sunny teenager to a hardhearted and cold one and my circle of friends began to shrink, and finally I didn’t have any friends.
When alone, I often remembered the words in a book of Guo Jingming (a Chinese writer): “Youth is always beautiful, while it would be tinged with sadness.” During the most beautiful years of my youth, because of my addiction to novels, I lost my original vitality and my wonderful dreams vanished into thin air.
A Turning Point in My Youth
In that summer, I went home for the summer holiday. During that time, I often stared blankly at my cellphone, feeling sleepy and spiritless. Seeing my bad condition, my mother, a Christian, talked to me with concern, “Now you have ample time. Would you like to attend meetings with me?” Hearing my mother, I hesitated.
One evening, seeing my mother busied herself with the dinner in the kitchen, I lost in contemplation: Over these years, my mother toiled for our family so hard that her hair turned gray. Worrying about me, she earnestly extorted me to. At these thoughts, I didn’t want her to worry about me anymore, so I agreed to believe in God and attend meetings.
At a meeting, I read these words of God: “Young people … should not be without ideals, aspirations, or a temperament of enthusiastic advancement; they should not be disheartened about their prospects nor should they lose hope in life or lose confidence in the future; they should have the perseverance to continue along the way of truth that they have now chosen to realize their wish to expend their entire lives for God. … Young people should not be without the resolve for discernment in issues, and for seeking justice and the truth. What you should pursue is all things beautiful and good, and you should obtain the reality of all positive things, what you should pursue is all things beautiful and good, and you should obtain the reality of all positive things as well as be responsible toward your life, be responsible toward your life—you must not take it lightly.”
God’s word touched my heart. I felt God’s expectation for me: He wants me to become a person with ideals and a temperament of enthusiastic advancement and pursue positive things, yet what I did wasn’t in line with His expectation at all. Since I was addicted to novels, I was possessed by the made-up stories, having no mood to study or communicate with others. I became depressed and decadent and felt confused about my future. Pondering God’s words: “Young people … should not be without ideals,” “you should … be responsible toward your life,” I had the courage to get rid of this decadent life and found the direction for my life.
During the summer holidays, I often attended meetings. Gradually, I spent less time reading novels and became much invigorated.
Soon, the new term started. As I refrained myself from reading novels, and paid more attention to study, my academic performance improved a little. However, every time I heard my classmates talking about the latest novels and movies, the desire to read novels in my heart would be stirring. In the beginning, I could resist these temptations by praying to God. However, once when a classmate gave me his cellphone to read novels, I could resist no longer. Since then, I relapsed into my old habit. Though I didn’t want to waste my time reading novels, I couldn’t resist the temptations from my classmates. Every time after reading novels, I felt condemned.
The Youth Accompanied by God’s Word
Later, I read these words of God: “Young people are wont to go looking for excitement. They are so empty and bored and they don’t know what to do for the best. There is another thinking governing them, which is that people have a desire in their hearts to be a certain type of person, and they long for a kind of power, and for a certain something. This something that people yearn for is to have supernatural powers and abilities, and not what normal humanity possesses. People want to be heroes, supermen, capable men, and people who have extraordinary abilities; in other words, they worship Satan in their hearts. … It is most certainly because people have been influenced by certain ideological trends and influenced by film and television. These things do not belong to their hearts and they are things that lead them toward evil trends. … Satan uses this method to invent, fabricate and play out some stories, and it especially deceives these simple-minded, brainless adolescents. Have you been influenced at all? (Yes.) Is it then easy to remove and cleanse yourselves of this poison? Once you have been influenced, these things enter your thoughts and become a kind of poison. You only need to fail to see through this poison and you will then be unable to give it up completely; if you are influenced by it for one day, you will be disturbed and controlled by it for that one day.”
Through the revelation of God’s words, I came to understand that novels are the tools Satan used to control and bind our thoughts. Taking advantage of our desire to pursue thrill, Satan makes up various novels to mislead us to pursue to be a person like the heroic figures in novels. In this way, we are controlled by it unknowingly. I was just an example. After I read the novels shot through with violence and intrigues, the protagonists’ demeanors and the brotherhood in novels were all imprinted on my mind, and I often fancied that one day I could become a skilled swordsman, a powerful boss of underworld, or a resourceful soldier. Through reading God’s word, I came to know that only when I saw through the harm brought by novels, could I have faith and strength to get rid of the bondage of it.
I also understood that Satan used novels to instill various kinds of poisons into us. Controlled and harmed by it, we began to advocate violence and worship status, struggling to become a famous person. In order to have a stable footing and status in society, we fought and schemed with each other and competed for wealth and fame. As a result, we became crooked and crafty, selfish and despicable without conscience or sense. I couldn’t help recalling the reports on frequent school violence, gang fights, and how an internet-addicted teenager hack his parents to death. Thinking of these tragedies, I felt more grateful for God’s salvation. If I hadn’t believed in God, I couldn’t have seen through the harm of novels but would still be addicted to them and suffer the harm of these satanic thoughts. I felt grateful to God and resolved to get rid of the bondage of novels and get away from Satan’s temptations.
Thanks to God’s protection, I didn’t read novels for some time, and I thought that I had broken free from the bondage of novels. However, Satan didn’t relinquish me so easily and used my job to tempt me.
Because of the need of work, I often watched some videos to improve my professional knowledge. Once when I searched videos on the Internet, I found some films and television shows adapted from novels, which arose my curiosity. Then on the pretext of learning professional knowledge, I began to watch these films and comforted myself, “I’m doing this to improve my professional work. It’s OK if I just watch a little while.” However, with the development of the plot, I was unknowingly attracted by it and forgot my original intention of watching it. Two days later, my eyes ached and my spirit sank downward. Unable to feel God, I was like a walking corpse and felt empty in my heart.
Later, I read these words of God: “When someone goes into society now, do they encounter many temptations? Temptation is everywhere, and evil trends are filled with temptation. All manner of speech, views, ideologies, all the different lures and demonic countenances of all the different people—to you, all is temptation. If you have no truth equipped within you, if you have no real stature, if you are unable to see through these things, then to you they will all be pitfalls and temptations. On the one hand, you will be unable to see through the satanic countenances of all manner of people, you will be unable to overcome Satan and unable to claim victory over it; on the other hand, without the reality of the truth, you will be unable to withstand all manner of evil trends, evil views and absurd ideologies and interpretations.”
God’s words awakened me: In this evil age, Satan’s temptation is everywhere; without the truth, we couldn’t overcome it but would be trapped in Satan’s snare. My spiritual life is too immature and the truth hasn’t become my life, so I couldn’t overcome Satan’s temptations and suffer from spiritual darkness, losing peace and joy in my heart. Without truth as my life, I am so pitiful and poor, so my utmost priority is reading more of God’s words and equipping myself with the truth. Then I prayed to God in my heart, “Oh God! Through this environment, I see that I don’t understand enough truth. So I couldn’t live by truth but fell into Satan’s temptations. I know Your love is hidden within this environment. I’m willing to equip myself with more truth. May Your discipline and smiting not depart from me, so that I could break free from Satan’s harm as soon as possible.”
After, I saw a passage of God’s words: “In this evil age, in this age infested by unclean spirits and devils, you should pray that God’s kindness and protection will often be with you, that He looks after you and protects you, so that your heart won’t leave God, and you can strive to use your heart and your honesty to worship God. Is it a right way to follow? (Yes, it is.) So do you wish to walk this path? Are you willing to live often under God’s care and protection, often to be disciplined by God, or do you wish to live in your own free world?” God’s words gave me the path to practice: Only through praying to God and gaining His protection and care, can I avoid Satan’s influence and afflictions. Since then, when I searched online for materials, I would silently pray to God to protect my heart.
Once, when I felt at a loose end and wanted to read novels again, I suddenly remembered God’s words: “No matter what you are doing, no matter how big the matter is, and regardless of whether you are fulfilling your duty in God’s family, or whether it is your private matter, you must consider whether this matter conforms with, whether this matter is something a person with humanity should do, and whether or not what you are doing would make God happy. You need to think about these things. If you do this, then you are a person who seeks the truth and a person who truly believes in God.”
From God’s words, I understood that as a believer in God, I should seek truth in everything and act according to the truth. Outwardly, reading novels was my private matter; in fact, it would make me stray from God; once I read novels, I would lose control of myself, and gradually be inextricably trapped and relapse into the hollow and decadent life, losing God’s salvation. God says: “There is no need to read books that stimulate your mind too much (romance novels, pornography, magazines, or biographies of great men), which cause more harm than good.” Pondering God’s words, I knew that I couldn’t act according to my own will and desires of the flesh, for they didn’t conform with God’s will. I silently prayed to God, “Oh God! I don’t have any ability to control myself. May You protect my heart and make me quite before You, so that I wouldn’t sin against You.” After prayer, I felt peaceful and the desire for reading novels disappeared unknowingly.
After experiencing God’s work, I felt that God had never given up on my salvation. So many times when I encountered Satan’s temptations, God was silently watching over me and protecting me from being captured; though sometimes my flesh was painful and weak, I knew that God’s love always accompanied me. Thanks to God’s salvation, I could get rid of the bondage of novels step by step. By reading the truth expressed by God, I saw through Satan’s scheme and knew how to conduct myself in life, and my conscience and reasoning had been gradually restored. If I hadn’t followed God, I would still be trampled by Satan and become depraved beyond the likeness of a real man. Thank God for saving me.
In the most beautiful years of my youth, it was because of God’s love that I resumed a normal life.
Thanks to God’s love and salvation, my youth burst forth in splendor.