By Shen Si
The Friendship Between Meng Li and Xiaoyu
Meng Li comes from Shaanxi and Zhang Xiaoyu from Shanxi; Meng Li is extroverted and domineering while Zhang Xiaoyu is introverted and mild; Meng Li has made her way in society for many years, she is an old hand, while Zhang Xiaoyu has been working intensely at the company all the time.
When Meng Li first came to the company, she was assigned to the department where Zhang Xiaoyu worked. Because they were about equal in their professional competence and they were both Christians, they got along with each other, though they had different personalities. Not long after, they became the acknowledged perfect partners and good friends in their company. At ordinary times, whenever one of them was going to visit clients, the other must be with her. When encountering something difficult in handling their business, they would discuss and deal with it together.
After a while, they summed up some experience: When meeting the clients who were hard to deal with, Meng Li would take the field; when encountering those who didn’t yield to force, it would be Xiaoyu’s turn. No matter whose clients signed the contract, they never came into conflict for the commission. Their pure friendship and perfect silent understanding with each other were envied by many people in the company.
The Crisis Brought by Jealousy
One day, Meng Li went back to the company after a two-week business trip and found that Zhang Xiaoyu wasn’t at the office. By asking others, she knew that when she was away, Zhang Xiaoyu was promoted to manager and became her immediate superior.
Meng Li was more than shocked at this news: How so? How come it’s she who’s elected? Be it eloquence or professional competence, I’m not inferior to her. Why is it not me but her? Could it be that I’m not as good as her in the others’ eyes? Originally, we were at the same level, but now her position is higher than mine. How will the colleagues see me? How can I have a foothold in the company? …
Meng Li’s mind was filled with jealousy and disobedience. The sudden change of her position was like an invisible sticker sticking into her heart, making her very miserable. Although Meng Li knew Zhang Xiaoyu was her best friend and that it wasn’t right to think like that, she just couldn’t control herself. In the following few days, as long as she thought of that, she became very upset.
After becoming the manager, Zhang Xiaoyu seemed to be very busy. The large amount of work occupied almost all 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 keep track of the business situation of all the departments. The colleagues cast her admiring look; this hurt Meng Li in an instant. In the past, the colleagues also looked at her in this way, but now, she was given the cold shoulder. That made her feel very awkward.
When at work, Zhang Xiaoyu felt it was inconvenient to be too intimate with Meng Li in front of the subordinates. But in Meng Li’s eyes, Zhang Xiaoyu had changed, she no longer looked up to her and put on airs with her after becoming a manager. Meng Li seemed to be more estranged from Zhang Xiaoyu. Actually, according to her knowledge of Zhang Xiaoyu, she knew that Zhang Xiaoyu wasn’t that kind of person, but the disequilibrium in her heart drove her to think of her in that way. Although Meng Li pretended nothing had happened outwardly, from the bottom of her heart she felt they two suddenly became estranged. Such an awkward relationship caused Meng Li to be quite uncomfortable.
Once, Meng Li received a phone call from Zhang Xiaoyu. She asked Meng Li why she appeared to be absent-minded recently, and whether they could have a talk if she had something weighing on her mind. Listening to Zhang Xiaoyu’s words of concern, Meng Li felt intense resignation: Although there was just a phone between them two, Meng Li felt as if an invisible gulf separated her from Zhang Xiaoyu, making her be unable to get on with Zhang Xiaoyu again. Suddenly she realized that their friendship might never be able to 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 was finally hung up in silence.
From then on, the meeting between Meng Li and Zhang Xiaoyu at work became a byword for embarrassment. Each time facing Zhang Xiaoyu, Meng Li felt estranged from her. She didn’t know how to remove the wall of partition between Zhang Xiaoyu and her. She had a hard time of it. So eager was she to calmly get on with Zhang Xiaoyu like before, but now she couldn’t. In the still of night, she often yelled up at the endless sky: “How does it get to this place? Does our friendship end this way?”
The Words of God Reveal the Root Cause
Being perplexed and miserable, Meng Li saw the 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.”
As Meng Li pondered over God’s words, she realized the cause of her pain and depression was that she was bound and controlled by the view of “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face.” When she lost face and position, she was jealous of her friend. In retrospect, when she and Zhang Xiaoyu were of equal status, they could get along with each other, and they had a close relationship and made a great team. However, when Zhang Xiaoyu was promoted to her immediate superior, the great disparity between them made her feel ashamed. Seeing the colleagues being around Zhang Xiaoyu, Meng Li thought Zhang Xiaoyu had upstaged her. She was discontented, unconvinced, and jealous, crying out in grief for not gaining the fame, fortune and position. She was even engulfed in pain for not being admired by her colleagues. As a result, not only was she in agony, but also her friendship with Xiaoyu was on the rocks. Aren’t these the afflictions brought by pursuing fame and position?
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 the way for Meng Li to practice. The fame and position is a tool which Satan uses to corrupt and harm people. Satan just used face and position to bind her, making her only focus on how the others would see her. For the sake of face and position, she worried about personal gains and losses and thus a rift developed between her and her friend. To walk out of the state of being jealous, Meng Li must learn to set them aside, to give them up and to be thoughtful of others instead of blindly fighting for fame and position. Under the domination and arrangements of God, each person plays his own part all his 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 and preferences. Only by learning to obey the persons, matters and objects arranged by God and seriously playing one’s own role can people live a free and liberated life.
Having understood these, Meng Li put God’s words into practice. When she saw the colleagues look up to Zhang Xiaoyu and once again became jealous, she prayed to God and asked God to change her. Gradually, she no longer felt distressed for being unable to stand out, nor did she give Zhang Xiaoyu the silent treatment in her own way, but actively cooperated with her work. She felt the long-forgotten peace and assurance in the heart.
Being Good Friends Again
One fine spring afternoon, Zhang Xiaoyu and Meng Li had lunch together. Meng Li opened up about what she revealed in those days and how she came to know herself in the words of God and finally became relieved. Then Zhang Xiaoyu smiled and talked to Meng Li about her own experience after being the 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 wrong intentions that led to her inability to get along with Zhang Xiaoyu. The time seemed to go back to the past. They two talked and talked and there was no estrangement nor distance. The invisible wall was collapsed …
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