I inadvertently saw a poem called “God Asked Me to Take a Snail for a Walk” on my computer. It said: “God gave me a task, asking me to take a snail for a walk. I couldn’t walk too fast. The snail had tried its best to climb, but it could only move a bit every time. I rushed it, scared it, and scolded it. It looked at me in apology, as if saying ‘I have tried my best.’ I pulled it, I dragged it, and even wanted to kick it. The snail was hurt, but it still breathlessly crawled forward with sweat. It was strange! I wondered why God made me walk with a snail? Oh, God! Why? …” When reading this poem, I couldn’t help but remember that because I was controlled by the viewpoint of being highly ambitious for the children, I took some measures for raising my daughter to be talented, and making her get ahead and gain family prestige in the future, and that I brought some harm and pain to both of us.
My daughter is our only child, so I reposed all my hopes in her. I thought: Our family hope my daughter will bring honor to our ancestors. I must properly cultivate her, and do my best to provide a good living condition and a good learning environment for her. In material life, I can’t treat her poorly, and even more I must be strict in her study and make her into useful material, so that she will distinguish herself and glorify our ancestors. Hence, in life, I tried my best to meet all my daughter’s requirements and never let her suffer a little; I even had high standards and strict demands of her study. In order to make her get good grades, I always educated her the hard way; in order to create a good learning environment for her, I put my pride in my pocket, sought for my familiars’ help, exploited connections and took the back door to convert her rural hukou into urban hukou; and to save her time and energy on the way between our home and her school, I borrowed money here and there and bought an apartment in the vicinity of her school. Although every day I was very tired from work and domestic chores, once I had spare time, I would accompany her to study, check her homework, rectify her wrong answers and give her dictations, etc. Not until we were exhausted did we rest.
However, no matter how much time and energy I spent on her study, her academic grades never satisfied me. My daughter always liked kneading plasticine into flowers, dolls or something else. Every weekend she would surf online for the skills in handwork and the samples of the craftwork, and then she would spend a whole day learning to make handicrafts, not doing her homework. Because of this, her academic performance slipped sharply. In the beginning she got high marks, then lower marks, and even later on she flunked every subject. Seeing this, I was so anxious that I didn’t know what to do. Once, during a chat with one of my classmates, she said her factory employed a batch of staff who all graduated from well-known colleges. Once they began to work, their boss gave out apartments to them and paid them high salaries. She also said: “In today’s society, whether one can find a good job depends on his degree. Only when one has a high degree can he be able to find a good job. You have only one daughter, so you should properly cultivate her. And you should put more effort into her study, and enter her name for more classes of supplementary schooling. Don’t be unwilling to spend your money. If now your daughter doesn’t do well in her study and fails to improve performance, in the future she will be unable to go to a famous college and be unable to find a good job, and then she will have to support her life by doing a hard and low paying job. On the contrary, if her grades are good enough and it’s certain that she can test into a good university, she will have more job opportunities and have good prospects for her future. So not only will she not bear hardships for living, but you’ll look good.” These words all pierced me to the core of my being. I thought: My daughter’s grades are bad. If she can’t find a good job in the future because of this, she will toil and do dirty work. If that is the case, not only will she be miserable and tired, but my relatives and friends will ridicule me.… Thinking of this, I was even more unwilling to accept the fact that my daughter was a bad student. Therefore, I determined that no matter how much money I spent, I must make her grade go up.
During summer vacations, I paid a high price to enroll her in various after-school classes. Though my heart ached for the high fee, I felt I got my money’s worth, because I thought after I spent so much money, my daughter’s academic grades would go up, and she would have the hope of taking exams to go to a famous university, and then have a decent and presentable job, and I would bask in the reflected glory of her success. Every day my daughter hurried to go in and out of different classrooms with her heavy bag, and when returning home, she was still piled with homework. Seeing her like this I was sorry for her, but I felt I was making plans for her future. As the saying goes “No pain, no gain,” so if she could have a future, then it was worth it to suffer now. Thinking of this, I felt relieved. I only waited for the good news that my daughter made great progress in her studies.
But I could never have thought that not only did she not improve her academic grades, but instead they slipped to the point where I couldn’t accept such results. In one examination, my daughter only got 9 marks out of 100 for history. When I saw this result, I became extremely angry. I was very disappointed in her. I really wanted her to live up to my expectations but she failed, so I blamed her for being stupid and closed-minded. Thinking of the hope I placed on her and the price I paid for her, and looking at her academic grades, I wanted to cry but no tears came, and I was completely disappointed. I also thought the children of my friends and relatives all did better in the study than my daughter. Every time after the exam, we would compare our children’s scores. When those people whose children had good grades talked about their children’s studies, they were exultant and looked proud; however, when they knew my daughter’s grades that I found difficult to talk about, they said: “Don’t worry. This time she did badly. She’ll do well next time.” But their looks of great surprise made me want to find a hole in the ground to hide in.
Sometimes I thought: Why are others’ kids all “goshawks” or “phoenixes,” but my daughter is a “snail” which always crawls slowly? My husband and I are not stupid, but why is our daughter so bad? Why does she always not open her eyes? If things continue on like this, I’m afraid that she can hardly take exams to go to a regular senior high school, let alone get into a famous university and have a decent and glamorous job as well as good prospects. I was so anxious. Especially on Sundays, my daughter didn’t do her homework but spent the pin money we gave her on plasticine, and then played with it at home with great gusto, kneading one thing one minute and another thing the next. When I saw her doing like this, I couldn’t help but fly into a rage and wanted to throw away the dolls she kneaded. Sometimes when I lost my temper, I couldn’t help beating and scolding her for this. Seeing she was innocent, aggrieved, and unsure of what to make of it, I felt sorry for her while I was angry. Every time this happened, my husband always urged me: “She’s still small, and she has expended all her effort. Why do you require so much of her? Let nature take its course!” However, I thought: others’ kids are so brilliant and versatile, so that their parents will glow and shine wherever they go. But I raise such a child who doesn’t live up to my expectations. Her academic performance made me lose all face. She isn’t enlightened in other aspects except kneading plasticine. How will she have a stable footing in society in the future? I also thought after many years of price, I was to end like this today…. In one moment feelings of pain, aggrievement, depression, unwillingness, and helplessness all welled up in my heart at once. I couldn’t help but weep loudly.
Afterward, one of my friends asked me to. She gave me a book of God’s words and told me God’s words could resolve all my difficulties and troubles. I opened it and saw a passage of God’s words, “But when it comes time for people to raise the next generation, they will project all their unrealized desires in the first half of their lives onto their descendants, hoping that their offspring will make up for all the disappointments they experienced in the first half of their lives. … hoping that their offspring can help them achieve their dreams and realize their desires; that their daughters and sons will bring glory to the family name, become important, rich, or famous; in short, they want to see their children’s fortunes soar. People’s plans and fantasies are perfect; do they not know that the number of children they have, their children’s appearance, abilities, and so forth, are not for them to decide, that their children’s fates do not at all rest in their palms? Humans are not the masters of their own fate, yet they hope to change the fates of the younger generation; they are powerless to escape their own fates, yet they try to control those of their sons and daughters. Are they not overestimating themselves? Is this not human foolishness and ignorance?” (“God Himself, the Unique III”).
After reading God’s words, I was shocked. Actually, God’s words revealed clearly and thoroughly the hopes I projected on my daughter and the thoughts in my heart. Just as God says, I really wanted to raise my daughter to be talented and hoped she would rise high in the world and bring glory to our ancestors, thus realizing my unrealized ideal and wish. I remembered my father missed his college entrance examination because of the Cultural Revolution, losing the opportunity to go to college. Later, he pinned all his hopes on my little brother and me. In order to raise us to be talented and realize his ideal of gaining family prestige, when we were little, he taught us to study hard, not to become farmers but to go far. Under my father’s education, both of us studied hard and hoped to test into university and to be outstanding. Unexpectedly, when I was in the second grade in the senior high school, I didn’t have the physique for the heavy study load, so I had to drop out and stay at home. Afterward, because my little brother would go to senior high school, in order to reduce my father’s financial burden, I could only work away from home. The regret that I failed to go to college and honor my ancestors was with me for more than ten years. I didn’t see any hope until I bore my daughter after marriage. I wanted her to carry out my unrealized wish, so I made the effort to cultivate her, hoping she would go to a good university, find a good job, and honor our ancestors. But contrary to expectations, her grades always disappointed me and dashed my hope time after time. From God’s words, I understood: Everyone’s fate is in God’s hands and everything is predestined by God, including what my daughter gets, what she is good at and what aspects she is enlightened in. No matter how I beat and scold her, I can’t change her hobbies and academic grades. Thinking back to the fact that my father and I failed to realize our own ideals and wishes through the next generations, I felt God’s words are so good and practical.
Then I continued to read, “When one leaves one’s parents and becomes independent, the social conditions one faces, and the kind of work and career available to one are both decreed by fate and have nothing to do with one’s parents. … Some people, despite not being very well educated, write books and achieve a measure of fame; some, though almost totally illiterate, make money in business and are thereby able to support themselves…. What occupation one chooses, how one makes a living: do people have any control over whether they make a good choice or a bad choice? Do they accord with their desires and decisions? Most people wish they could work less and earn more, not to toil in the sun and rain, dress well, glow and shine everywhere, tower above others, and bring honor to their ancestors. People’s desires are so perfect, but when people take their first steps in the journey of their lives, they gradually come to realize how imperfect human destiny is, and for the first time they truly grasp the fact that, though one can make bold plans for one’s future, though one may harbor audacious fantasies, no one has the ability or the power to realize his or her own dreams, no one is in a position to control his or her own future. … What occupation one pursues, what one does for a living, and how much wealth one amasses in life are not decided by one’s parents, one’s talents, one’s efforts or one’s ambitions, but are predetermined by the Creator.”
These words made my heart brighten: Actually, no matter how high of a degree we have, what subjects we major in, what occupation we pursue, what we do for a living all our lives, and whether we are rich or poor are all things that God pre-determined. It absolutely is not as I have believed, that only when one graduates from a famous university can he find a good job, and that a high degree is followed with good prospects, but in fact, these can’t change the social environment and the profession God preordained for him. I can’t help thinking of two classmates of mine. When at school, they were famous for their bad grades and often ridiculed by our teachers and schoolmates. But now they became bosses who were worth millions of or tens of millions of yuan while several good students became their staff. In the past, I was amazed at the tremendous contrast of the two kinds of people and I couldn’t comprehend that. Now, after reading God’s words, I understood everything is under the Creator’s predestinations. Then what do I have to worry about? What professions my daughter will work in and how much wealth she will possess have been predetermined by God. Then what’s the use of my plan for her future? God’s words made me suddenly see the light and untied these issues in my mind. Having known her fate was in God’s hands, I began to let go of my so-called ideals and wishes, and no longer tried to change my daughter by myself. Instead, I let her naturally grow in accordance with God’s predestination and arrangement.
God is righteous and He has given everyone talents and a natural instinct for survival, just like my daughter: Although she isn’t enlightened in other aspects, God has given her the gift of making handcraft. Even though she wasn’t professionally trained, her handworks were decent. After they saw the pictures of her works on WeChat, her teachers and classmates complimented her one after another, and some people said she had a talent for art and it was possible that in the future she would work in this trade. In the past, I didn’t think this was my daughter’s talent, but felt that she was not engaged in honest work for she always played with plasticine, and I even wanted to throw her works away. Now I realized: She has an interest in this aspect. This is her forte given by God. I should encourage and help her to bring her gift to bear. Only this is obeying God’s arrangement for her.
I thought of the words in the, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverb 9:10). Therefore, I asked my daughter to believe in God from a young age with my husband and me, hoping she could know the existence of God, and recognize and obey God’s sovereignty. Now my daughter goes to youth meetings once a week at the church, sings and praises God, and reads God’s words with little brothers and sisters. She has gained much knowledge from God’s words, and she is much more sensible than before in life. When we come back home tired, she will voluntarily serve us tea; when we are too busy to cook, she will cook for us…. Seeing her transformation, I am thankful to God, and I know it is God’s words that have changed my daughter and me. Now my daughter is no longer a “snail,” and I am no longer the one who walks with a snail. Under the guidance of God’s words, we begin to go forward in step with each.