By Yifan, United States
Recently, my friend and I moved to a three-story new apartment. The landlord didn’t live with us. The other tenants all looked kind and friendly. In the first few days we got along with each other harmoniously. Seeing the new environment and the new neighbors, I felt satisfied and liked here from my heart. However, what happened next made me much depressed.
One day after I came back home from work, my aunt told me that two new tenants moved to the second floor. Hearing this news, I didn’t think much about it. After saying hello to them, I went into my room. The next day, after getting up, I went to the loft and found the space where I usually used for working was occupied by the new neighbor. I thought that the other day when my aunt knew I preferred a quiet place, she particularly found a small table for me and set it on the loft so that I could work there quietly. But now on the small table was the new neighbor’s computer, leaving no room for me. Just as I didn’t know what to do, the new neighbor came upstairs. She greeted me with an enthusiasm and then said politely, “Will you join me? This place can take us two. You may sit on this side.” Having spoken, she made room for me. When I saw this, I still wore a polite smile but my heart was full of discontents, thinking, “What’s your problem? You forcibly occupied my place. But now you turn from a guest into a host. How unreasonable you are!” I was angry and went into my room in a hurry.
After coming back to my room, I couldn’t help complaining to my friend that the new neighbor was no good. Hearing my complaints, my friend gave me a reminder: “There is God’s good purpose in allowing you to face this thing. We cannot see it clearly, but we should submit to it first. Don’t sin with your lips.” Her words reminded me, so I prayed to God and told Him what I met. After my, I suddenly thought of my friend’s advice about finding a place in the basement. Thinking I had urgent documents to be finished, I didn’t have any other choice. And then, I went downstairs to the basement with my computer reluctantly.
Thank God! I really found a hidden and quiet compartment in the innermost part of the basement. There was actually a table and a desk. Seeing this, I changed from sorrowful to joyful. It was quiet here and I completed the work successfully at the end of the day. In the following three days, I stayed there all day except for eating and sleeping. Seeing the basement was dark, my friend asked me to return to my room and learn to adapt to the environment. But at the thought of how I would be disturbed if someone was talking near me, I refused my friend’s advice and decided to settle down there. I even thought of putting all my things there so that nobody could possibly occupy that place. However, on the third day afternoon, I suddenly felt very uncomfortable. It turned out that the enclosed basement was stuffy and because the lamplight was extremely harsh, three days later, my head started to ache as if it would explode, and my eyes were also particularly painful. Helpless, I had to return to my room.
However, my friend was always doing things here and there in the room, and my heart really couldn’t calm down. Sometimes, I couldn’t write a single word for several hours, which delayed the work seriously. At the sight of my situation, my joy of moving to a new house all vanished into thin air. I was very dissatisfied with the new neighbor living on the second floor and felt it was mostly her fault that I suffered all this. If she didn’t occupy my space, I wouldn’t have run about awkwardly like this. In order to finish my work at hand as soon as possible, I had to return to the loft again reluctantly.
When the new neighbor saw I came back, she should have realized she occupied my place. So, she voluntarily moved to the door and gave the original space back to me. When I saw this, I felt remorseful: She didn’t do anything to hurt me. She only used my place; and besides, she didn’t know….
Thinking for a while, I stopped my mind from wandering, and immersed myself in my work. But not long after, I heard the new neighbor began to talk. Only then did I know that she was working on the Internet, and she contacted with her colleagues through chat tools. When I heard she was always on the line and spoke very loudly, I couldn’t help reminding her, “Could you please use the earphone?” “Could you please speak lower?” Although she accepted my advice embarrassedly, she was still on the line. Sometimes, she spoke all the time; sometimes, she would speak a word or two suddenly just when I got a thought, then I would be interrupted by her abrupt word and lost my train of thought.
A few days later, this condition made me more depressed, and even afterward I could hardly endure her speaking. Sometimes, she kept talking for a whole afternoon and thus I couldn’t write anything but just sat there and sulked. Sometimes, I even wanted to scold her severely and drive her downstairs, but to save my face, I didn’t do that. One day, I met another new neighbor in the kitchen. From her I knew that this new neighbor met some difficulties in her work and was scolded by her leader a few days ago, so she was in a bad mood these days. Hearing this news, I was more ashamed to embarrass her. But when I thought that my work would be affected badly because I was disturbed so much that I couldn’t calm down day by day, I felt gloomy to the utmost at that instant.
Distressed and helpless, I came before God to pray, “Oh, God! My heart was disturbed by this environment and couldn’t settle down to anything; I resisted it very much and couldn’t obey. God! In theory I know this situation that has befallen me holds Your kindness and that people, matters, and things I encounter every day are arranged by You, but I don’t know how to experience this environment. Please help and guide me.” After praying, I saw God’s words: “If your heart truly is quiet before God you won’t be bothered by anything going on in the world outside, and no person, event, or thing will occupy you. If you have entry into this, then those negative states or all negative things, such as human conceptions, philosophy of life, abnormal relationships with people, and thoughts in your heart will naturally disappear.” “If your heart is quiet before God no matter what you are doing then you are someone who lives before God. If your heart is quiet before God and drawing close to God no matter what you are doing, this proves that you are a person who is quiet before God.”
God’s words gave my restless heart a direction. My friend always let me adapt to the environment which was arranged by God, but I rejected it time and again, using the excuse that I couldn’t adapt. After reading God’s words, I knew that if our heart is quiet before God, we will not be affected by any person, matter or thing. No matter how people quarreled or frolicked, I would not be disturbed if my heart was quiet before God. Now I couldn’t adapt to this environment, and if there was a slightest sound around me, I would be upset. But in reality, the problem was of my own making. Indeed. Man doesn’t live in a vacuum, so how can it possibly be silent without a little sound around us? My ability of adjusting the environment is so weak, I shouldn’t let all the people accommodate me. Or I’ll be too irrational and tyrannical.
Thinking of the occurrence of all the incidents in these days since the new neighbor came, I realized I didn’t quiet myself to seek God’s will from the very start, and even put aside the lesson of submission. In this course, I revealed too much maliciousness and selfishness for my new neighbor. The loft was a public area, rather than my private property, and any tenant could use it. But I took it as my own in my heart. Obviously I occupied the public area but/yet said the new neighbor occupied my place. It turned out that I was the one who was unreasonable and preposterous, but not the new neighbor. Besides, my inhumanity and selfish and base nature were exposed in this environment. The new neighbor met difficulties in her work and wanted to find a quiet place to stay, which was the way of man. If I met this matter, I would also want to keep apart from the group and stay alone. But I showed no consideration for her and only considered myself, neither caring about her feeling nor sympathizing with her weakness. During the days we were alone together, though I knew very well her difficulties, I didn’t say any considerate word to her. What’s more, when she talked to me, I was cold to her. I had no humanity at all. The new neighbor didn’t offense me, even if she did, I should have remembered that God asked us to forgive others seventy times seven. (See Matthew 18:22.) But I didn’t practice God’s words, and how could I have any bit of likeness of a Christian? I lived like a non-believer. Then I saw Ephesians 4:2 said, “With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love.” Reflecting myself, I didn’t possess these at all. Not until then did I realize this environment was really my need.
After understanding these, I made a prayer to God once again. This time I didn’t complain to God but told Him the true condition of my disobedience, asking God to help me to calm down and obey. After I prayed, I consciously found some relevant words of God to read. I saw God’s words say: “If you cannot be quiet before God, you can be distracted when someone comes by, you can be distracted when people are talking, and your heart can be drawn away when others are doing things, so you are not someone living before God.” “Begin from prayer first: Praying at peace before God is most fruitful. After that, eat and drink the words of God, and ponder God’s words and try to obtain the light, find the path to practice, know what the aims of God’s utterances are, and understand without deviation. Ordinarily, draw close to God normally in your heart, contemplate God’s love, and ponder the words of God, without being disturbed by external things. When your heart is at peace to a degree that you are able to muse, so that, within yourself, you contemplate God’s love and truly draw near to God regardless of what environment you are in, and you have ultimately reached the point where you give praise in your heart, and it is even better than praying, then in this you will be possessed of a certain stature.”
Then, I began to train in practicing voluntarily according to God’s words. When I prayed, I committed my practical difficulties I met to God, quieted my heart before Him and spoke the words within my heart to God. When I couldn’t quiet my heart, I would listen to the hymns that praise God, and read God’s words. Unwittingly, my restless heart became a little quiet; at this time, I prayed to God about my work I need to finish, and sought God’s guidance and enlightenment and illumination in the midst of difficulties. Gradually, when the new neighbor talked on the line again, I didn’t think it was too noisy. Though someone was talking beside me all the time, my heart wasn’t affected and my train of thought was not interrupted. I had tasted the sweetness of practicing quieting my heart before God.
God’s words say: “All spiritual life is achieved by relying on being quiet before God.” I know in the following days I will encounter some environments which do not conform to my expectations, and that I may not necessarily adapt to them completely, but I will find solutions to the problems with the leading and guidance of God’s words. I’m sure that if I practice quieting my heart before God consciously, all the problems will be solved. Moreover, I also know God is always by my side leading me and that God is my reliance and help at any time. I have God with me, so the apprehensions and difficulties seem insignificant.
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