Meng Li and Xiaoyu’s Friendship
Meng Li is from Shaanxi Province and Zhang Xiaoyu is from Shanxi Province. Meng Li is extroverted and domineering while Zhang Xiaoyu is introverted and mild. Meng Li has gone from place to place, making her way for years and is an old hand, but Zhang Xiaoyu has been keeping her head down, working hard at the same company all along.
When Meng Li first joined the company, she was assigned to the same department as Zhang Xiaoyu. Since their professional skills were comparable and they were both Christians, they got along well with each other in spite of their different personalities. It didn’t take long before they were known throughout the company as an excellent pair and good friends. Whenever one of them went to visit a client the other one would generally go along. When encountering something difficult in their work, they would discuss it and deal with it together.
After some time, they took stock of their experience: When meeting the clients who were hard to deal with, Meng Li would take the field; when encountering those who would yield to a softer approach rather than a harder approach, it was Xiaoyu’s turn. No matter whose clients signed the contract, they never had any conflict over commissions. Their pure friendship and perfect silent understanding with each other were envied by many people in the company.
A Crisis of Jealousy
One day, returning after a two-week business trip, Meng Li found that Zhang Xiaoyu wasn’t at the office. Asking around, she found out that while she was gone Zhang Xiaoyu had been promoted to manager and had become her direct supervisor.
Meng Li was more than shocked at this news: “How could that be? Why was she the one chosen? Whether in eloquence or professional skills, I’m not inferior to her at all. Why is it not me but her? Could it be that I’m not as good as her in others’ eyes? Originally, we were at the same level, but now her position is higher than mine. How will our colleagues see me? What kind of foothold do I have a in the company? …”
Meng Li’s mind was flooded with jealousy and irritation. The sudden change in her status was like an invisible blade in her heart, causing her great pain. Although Meng Li knew Zhang Xiaoyu was her best friend and that it wasn’t right to think that way, she just couldn’t control herself. Over the following few days she became very upset every time she thought about it.
After becoming a manager, Zhang Xiaoyu appeared to be very busy. The heavy workload occupied almost all of her time, so she had no time to spend with Meng Li. There were several times when Zhang Xiaoyu came to the sales department to hold a meeting to track the business conditions. The colleagues cast her admiring looks; this was like a slap to Meng Li’s face. In the past, her colleagues had also looked at her that way, but now, she was given the cold shoulder. She felt really awkward.
While on the job, Zhang Xiaoyu felt it wasn’t appropriate to be too chummy with Meng Li in front of her subordinates, but in Meng Li’s eyes, Zhang Xiaoyu had changed since becoming a manager, no longer looking up to her and putting on airs. Meng Li seemed to put up a wall between her and Zhang Xiaoyu. In fact, she knew Zhang Xiaoyu and was aware that Zhang Xiaoyu wasn’t that kind of person, but the lack of balance in her heart drove her to think of her in that way. Although Meng Li pretended outwardly that nothing had happened, she felt deep in her heart that they had suddenly become estranged. This awkward relationship was really discomfiting for Meng Li.
At one point, Zhang Xiaoyu called Meng Li, asking why she appeared to be absent-minded recently, and whether they could have a talk if there was something weighing on her mind. Hearing Zhang Xiaoyu’s words of concern, Meng Li really felt at a loss: Although there was nothing but a phone between the two of them, Meng Li felt as if an invisible chasm separated her from Zhang Xiaoyu that wasn’t allowing the same kind of frank, harmonious relationship as before. It suddenly occurred to her that their friendship might never recover. At that moment, she felt as if the bottom had dropped out of her stomach. After some hesitation, she just answered lightly, “It’s nothing.” The phone call ended in silence.
From then on, when Meng Li and Zhang Xiaoyu saw each other at work it was the very definition of awkwardness. Each time Meng Li came face-to-face with Zhang Xiaoyu, Meng Li felt a great distance between them. She didn’t know how to bridge the gap—it was very difficult for her. She longed so much to have the same kind of relationship they used to, but she simply couldn’t do it. In the still of night, she would often yell up into the endless sky: “How could it get to this point? Is this really how our friendship is going to end?”
The Words of God Reveal the Root Cause
Feeling miserable and lost, Meng Li read these words of God, “When you see someone stand out, you are jealous, feel hatred, complain, and feel it is unfair. ‘Why can’t I stand out? Why is it never me? Why is it always he who gets to stand out and it’s never my turn?’ There is some resentment. You try to repress the resentment, but you can’t, so you pray. After praying, you feel better for a little while, but later when you encounter the matter again you cannot overcome it. Is this not a case of immature stature? Is not a person’s falling into these conditions a trap? This is the bondage of a satanically corrupted nature.”
Pondering God’s words, she realized that the reason for her pain and depression was that she was bound and controlled by the idea that “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face.” When she lost face and equal footing with her friend, she became jealous of her. In retrospect, when she and Zhang Xiaoyu had the same status they got along just fine; they had a close relationship and made a great team. However, when Zhang Xiaoyu was promoted to her direct supervisor, she felt ashamed over the disparity between them. Seeing her colleagues all gathering around Zhang Xiaoyu, Meng Li felt upstaged by her. She was discontented, irritated, and jealous, and was railing out for not gaining the fame, fortune and status. She was even overcome with pain for not gaining her colleagues’ admiration. She not only suffered greatly as a result, but her friendship with Xiaoyu was also on the rocks. Weren’t those afflictions entirely brought about by seeking fame and status?
Meng Li continued reading the words of God: “Ponder this: What kind of changes must a person make if he wants to refrain from falling into these conditions and wants to be able to cast off these conditions and free himself of the vexations of these things? What must a person obtain before he can free himself of the vexations of these things, loosen the bonds of these things, and be able truly to be free and liberated? On one hand, a person must see through things: These fame and fortune and positions are tools and methods for Satan to corrupt people, to entrap them, to harm them, and to cause their degeneration. You must first see clearly this aspect in theory. … If you want to turn around this kind of condition, if you want not to be controlled by these things, then you must first set them aside and give them up. The more you struggle, the more darkness will surround you, and the jealousy and hatred within your heart will increase, and you will have a stronger desire to obtain. The stronger your desire to obtain, the less capable you will be to do so, and as you obtain less your hatred will increase. As your hatred increases you will become darker on the inside.” God’s words pointed out Meng Li’s path for practice. Fame and status are tools that Satan uses to corrupt and harm people. Satan was just using fame and status to bind her, having her focus on nothing but how others saw her. For the sake of fame and status, she became concerned about personal gains and losses and thus a rift developed between her and her friend. To walk out from her state of jealousy, Meng Li had to learn to set these things aside, to give them up and to be thoughtful of others instead of blindly fighting for fame and status. Under the rule and arrangements of God, each person plays his own part throughout his entire life. What people can do and what people should do are all in God’s hands, and no one can change them based on his own ability or preferences. Only by learning to obey the people, matters and things arranged by God and taking one’s own role seriously can people live a free and liberated life.
After understanding all of this, Meng Li put God’s words into practice. When she saw her colleagues looking up to Zhang Xiaoyu and felt jealous again, she prayed to God and asked God to change her. Over time, she no longer felt distressed that she was unable to stand out, nor did she give Zhang Xiaoyu her own kind of silent treatment, but actively cooperated with her work. She felt a long-forgotten peace and assurance in her heart.
Being Good Friends Again
One fine spring afternoon, Zhang Xiaoyu and Meng Li had lunch together. Meng Li opened up about what she had revealed in those days and how she came to know herself through the words of God. She finally gained relief. Then Zhang Xiaoyu smiled and talked to Meng Li about her own experience since becoming a manager. Her voice was as gentle as before. Meng Li suddenly understood: Zhang Xiaoyu was still the old Zhang Xiaoyu, who never regarded her as a subordinate. It was her own wrong intentions that had led to her inability to get along with Zhang Xiaoyu. It felt like the good old days—the two of them talked and talked and there was no longer any estrangement nor distance. The invisible wall came down …