By Zhang Jie
In Beijing in 2008, the song “Welcome to Beijing” was often blasted from across the street: “With my door always open, I hold out my arms in waiting for you. Come and embrace me, you will understand and love me….” That moment, listening to the song on the way to work, Xiaofang felt waves of sorrow: If the life could really be as the song sings about! Yet the reality stood in marked contrast. How ironic it was! She was sure that she was not in love with it here. And she was going to the ministry of personnel to resign today.
Xiaofang had struggled at Beijing’s Chaoyang district for six years. However, what she gained was just disappointment.
In the company, performance spoke louder than any other thing. In order to establish record, the company set up a saving project, which was actually a deception. It promised that as long as customers deposited 5,000 yuan or more as initial inventory in the beauty salon, the salon would offer some services for free as interest and repay the capital after a year. But what was the fact? The company put a lot of stress on employees, and forced them to take “warrior’s oaths” that they would make the customers consume all the savings in the projects or products in the salon in a year. To put it bluntly, it was depositing customers’ savings into the boss’s private account, and balancing them with the expensive projects or products in the salon. However, not all the customers who saved money were willing to be taken advantage of. Take an aunt for example, she came to enter into this project with loans, waiting for the returned capital at maturity to repay the loans. Yet easier invested than returned. The boss put all stress on the managers of the salons. Of course, as the director of three salons, Xiaofang fell in for the major share of the stress. On one hand, she encouraged the managers to hold out and to delay returning the capital as possible as they could. On the other hand, she reported the circumstances to the district managers. To her surprise, they criticized her and said that she was incapable. After listening to this, she was furious but afraid to act; she could only endure it silently and live in torment.
At last, the district managers mobilized employees to advance the troublesome customers some capital out of their own pockets and to deduct equal amounts of money from the salon’s income next month. So Xiaofang divided her 20,000 yuan among three salons she was in charge of for emergencies. However, when the salon made money next month, no matter how she required the cashiers to refund her advancement, they firmly refused her for lack of the boss’s instruction. What’s worse, they made a complaint against her, with the result that the financial controller came to check her account. She had no choice but to swallow these things. At last, she treated the financial controller to dinner before she collected all her advancement bit by bit. After this experience, she was quite disappointed in the company.
Later, she learnt of Manager Zhang’s discharge for offending the boss, which made her and other employees feel great sympathy. At the same time, Xiaofang grieved for herself, thinking that the company was so cruel and the boss was so authoritarian. Like Manager Zhang, he was powerful the day before, while he was secretly expelled the next day. What made it even harder for Xiaofang to accept was that Manager Zhang’s discharge was due to his opposition to the policy of raising fund and repaying with interest. Seeing Manager Zhang’s end, she confirmed her determination to resign more than ever.
When Xiaofang arrived at the personnel office, Manager Lan was sitting in the chair for the personnel director as she was six years ago. With a pair of almond eyes behind her glasses, she saw everything clearly, like a monitor in the company, keeping calm and playing her role as usual. After pondering for a few minutes, she said to Xiaofang smilingly, “Working so well, why do you wanna jack it in? The company has made so many efforts to train you. Look at yourself today, people can tell at a glance you’re a white collar. You have become someone quite different from who you were before” At her words, Xiaofang smiled coldly within herself and thought: My innocence has departed from me. During these six years, what I have received is seeking nothing but profit; what I learned is deceiving; all that I schemed against are those who trusted me. And her deepest experience was that everyone was calculating, and only those who were good at it could get on. In the world of work, she was constantly in peril of being swallowed by others, so she had to be tougher and more conscienceless for survival, just as the wild animals fought hand to hand in arena. She called the customers sworn sisters on the surface, while she incessantly considered how to convince them to spend more within herself. Ms. Li was the deputy director of Food Bureau, sincere and low-key. When Xiaofang wanted to make a last-ditch effort to increase her sales at the end of the month, Li generously kept 50,000 yuan in the salon at one time. But Xiaofang knew that she herself was making use of Li’s feeling, and she was not sure whether the money would be returned when it became due. However, 30,000 to 50,000 yuan was nothing for the company. The company, just like a monster with blood dripping from its mouth, had never been stuffed. The time-limit of one year was over. As expected, Li’s money couldn’t be returned back. So she said to Xiaofang angrily, “Our fellowship ends right here. Return my money back in a month, or I will turn against you.” Facing this, Xiaofang had nothing to say and felt like her heart was going to break … Thinking of these things, Xiaofang asked Manager Lan, “We are always taught that ‘Simply go ahead! Only obeying the company and doing what it asks us to do can lead us to success.’ But now why does only the boss succeed while we employees always fail?” Frowning and pushing back her swivel chair, Manager Lan spread her hands and asked in reply, “Does it? So you mean the company owes you something?” “No, the customers suffer most. I’m not qualified to say these words for I’m also the accomplice. Yet I’m tired now. It is said that there are a group of pink angels in the beauty salon, while I feel that all of us are a gang of swindlers.” “Oh, well!” Manager Lan didn’t want her to continue and then interrupted her. So Xiaofang left her job successfully. She should have been relaxed. Unexpectedly, after her resignation, she encountered another matter that impressed her and made her miserable.
Being Crossed in Love
It seldom snowed in Beijing. However, the wind with the scattered snow blew into her face incessantly today, which made the weather so dry and cold. After arriving at the rental apartment, Xiaofang told her boyfriend Huangtu the resignation. Listening to the news, he was at sea with a spurious smile. Then he sneered with a stiff face, “You still can’t adapt to this society. So stupid you are, what future do you have? How can we be happy?” Having thought he would understand and comfort her, Xiaofang was surprised at his words. Staring at him with tears, she vented her thoughts suppressed so long, “You found faults with me long time ago. If you don’t think I have future, you can date others! It is not too late!” Huangtu said angrily, “Only you are pure, only you are upright, how noble you are! Before, you had a decent work anyhow. Now, I really have to consider whether our relationship will continue. A freak like you, can’t adapt to the society—even if you have another work, the result will be the same!” Then he slammed the door and went away without turning round. Xiaofang went chasing off but she failed to catch him up. She was low-spirited to the utmost and thought: Why do I chase him? What can I do even if I catch up with him? Argue or coax? … Let him go! The kite cut the string … can’t be pulled back. Then Xiaofang wandered in the street, trembling in the cold wind. She was so tired that she didn’t want to force herself anymore. Going through the crowd, she seemed to be so lonely. Coming to the overpass alone, she saw that Beijing was ablaze with lights. Though the weather was cold, the night scene was still beautiful! When she looked down, the cars came and went at a gallop, the buildings under the flashy neon lights and the scattered residents can be seen dimly in the distance. Looking at these scenes, Xiaofang laughed at herself with the corner of her mouth twitching, saying: “So great Beijing is, while there is no place for me!” This moment, a picture of her jumping came to her mind. She guessed whether she would feel much pain, whether her head would split open, whether her body would be crushed many times, and then she would be badly mutilated …
Being out of work and being crossed in love that night, Xiaofang was so oppressed that she had no energy to recall the day’s happenings. Dragging her exhausted body, she took her steps one after another and went back to the rental apartment in great difficulty. When she opened the door, the home remained the same and was quieter, and there was no former laughter. She went over the bed slowly, leaned her body and lay down flatly, looking at the white ceiling absent-mindedly. Unwilling to think anything, she only could hear her own breathing. Counting her heartbeat, she couldn’t fall asleep.
Getting Acquainted With Sister Wang
The next day, when it was about ten o’clock, Xiaofang heard a knocking on the door. Thinking that her boyfriend had changed his mind and come back, she opened the door in a hurry. Contrary to her expectations, there was an elder sister who wore a headscarf, a mouth mask and a black coat at the door. Xiaofang asked, “Who are you looking for? Do I know you?” The elder sister said smilingly, “Oh, are you Xiaofang? It is your mother that sent me to get you. This is the contact details from her.” With that, she handed the note to Xiaofang. Receiving and having a look at it, Xiaofang found that her name was indeed on it. Just at that time, she remembered that there was such a thing. When she returned home the year before, her mother preached theto her, required her to take the book The Scroll Opened by the Lamb with her, and exhorted her to make time to read it, telling her that the sister in the Church would come to get her then. At that thought, Xiaofang invited the elder sister in hurriedly and handed her a cup of hot water. She took the little scroll out of the baggage, and at the same time, the elder sister introduced herself … At the moment of opening the book, thinking that she had never opened and read it over the year, Xiaofang burst into tears all of a sudden. Looking at her shedding tears, Sister Wang handed her a towel and comforted her kindly, “Weep not. Sister, you can entrust your difficulties to God!” Listening to her words of comfort, Xiaofang’s nose twitched and she couldn’t control herself anymore and cried out loud. She felt that Sister Wang’s words were so warm, which were the only warm words she heard within the two days. After that, Xiaofang told Sister Wang her experiences over these past two days and her situations and mood now. Sister Wang said, “ can solve all of our problems. Let’s read a passage of God’s word.” Then she opened the little scroll and read, “All that is in this world is fast changing with the Almighty’s thoughts, under His eyes. Things mankind has never heard of can abruptly arrive. And yet, what mankind has always owned can unknowingly slip away. …
Mankind, who left the supply of life from the Almighty, does not know why they exist, and yet fears death. There is no support, no help, but mankind is still reluctant to close their eyes, braving it all, drags out an ignoble existence in this world in bodies without the consciousness of souls. You live like such, with no hope; he exists like such, with no aim. There is only the Holy One in the legend who will come to save those who moan in suffering and long desperately for His arrival. This belief cannot be realized so far in the people who are unconscious…. He desires to seek, seek your heart and your spirit. He wants to bring you food and water and to awaken you, so you are no longer thirsty, no longer hungry. When you are weary and when you begin to feel the desolation of this world, do not be perplexed, do not cry., the Watcher, will embrace your arrival any time” (“The Sighing of the Almighty”). After hearing God’s words, Xiaofang had already sobbed. From God’s words, she understood that we men are created by God and our lives are given by God. Leaving God and living under Satan’s influence, we can only live a life that is endlessly empty, painful and hopeless. Due to many times of calls from God, her mind became conscious at that moment. And she felt that she had left God and lived in Satan’s bondage too long. Hearing the kind words like a loving mother, she felt that her heart was so warm, as if she had returned back to her childhood, and nuzzled up to her mother. There was no sorrow, no harm but only the kind words and warm embrace from mother. The feeling was so great. It turned out that God is always by her side and waits for her to turn back. Indeed, as God’s words say, all that happened to Xiaofang is arranged by the unseen Almighty, and the fast change can’t be anticipated in advance. Xiaofang felt as if her resignation was God’s leading her to come before Him. Also, she understood that the love between people was so weak and powerless in face of the reality. Her boyfriend who had once made a solemn pledge broke up with her merely because of a resignation. And this just exposed his true face. Xiaofang could not help but sigh: Where is the true love in the world? Only God loves us humans. When I was in pain and helplessness, it was God that comforted me with His words, and turned me back from the verge of despair. Thinking this way, Xiaofang awakened, knowing she had lost her way, and right now she no longer had the thought of death, rather, her sorrowful heart felt comforted a little, and she neither felt bad for the ugly man or things anymore nor harm herself for this. Also, being relieved, she had found the haven to rest, not looking at the ceiling absent-mindedly any more. Holding God’s word, Xiaofang made a deep breathing and thought, “God, thank You! This is just the ideal haven of my life.”
Communing With Brothers and Sisters
Later, Sister Wang brought other brothers and sisters of the Church to gather with Xiaofang and teach her the hymns that praise God. Also, they recited God’s word together. When they got along with each other, they helped each other, encouraged each other, and fellowshiped their experience and the light from God’s word to each other. Instead of deceit and cunning, there was only care and love. And everyone put into practice being an honest person according to God’s requirements. Xiaofang felt that she lived so easily and she suddenly realized that this was the pure land she had been looking for bitterly.
One day, Xiaofang read the following passage of God’s word in the gathering, “It seems like a world of gaiety and splendor, one that is becoming more and more so. When people look upon the world, their hearts are drawn to it, and many are unable to extricate themselves from it; great numbers will be beguiled by those who engage in trickery and sorcery. If you do not strive for progress, and are without ideals, you will be swept away by this sinful wave. … In this world, man wears the devil’s clothing, eats food given by the devil, and works and serves under the devil’s thumb, becoming trampled in its filth. If you don’t grasp the meaning of life or the true way, then what is the point of your life?” (“Practice (2)”). Reading this, she thought: Yes, is God not talking about me? Just now, Xiaofang understood that the reason why she didn’t adapt to the society was that if she wanted to adapt to it, she had to give up her dignity and integrity, and hold high the banner of money supremacy. Yet all of this is evil. Thinking back when she first reached Beijing, she was absorbed by the world of gaiety and splendor. In order to survive, to stand out from the pack and have a foothold in the society, she tried her best to make money, and even dreamed to be a big boss. As a result, she was influenced by the evil and dark society, and became more and more evil and selfish, and full of deception. The evil of society not only entrapped herself, but also harmed her colleagues and some other people who hadn’t yet woken up. As for her boyfriend, she understood that he was also blinded by Satan’s evil trends. He esteemed power and money, and wanted to seek a bright future in the world, so he was struggling and had no dignity too. Thinking this, she no longer hated him and wasn’t angry with him anymore, and she decided to part with him as good friends. Then Xiaofang said in shame, “Sister, God’s words are all true. Before, my goal was to be a big boss and have a foothold in the society. And I struggled to achieve my ambition. But now I know that living like this is meaningless and empty.” The sister said, “It’s true! Seeking money and fame can only bring us emptiness and suffering eventually. Only coming before God and pursuing the truth, being an honest person and walking the way of fearing God and shunning evil according to God’s words is a true human life.” After that, they saw more of God’s word, “As a created being, you should of course worship God and pursue a meaningful life. If you don’t worship God and live in the filthy flesh, then aren’t you just a beast in human attire? As a human being, you should expend for God and endure all suffering. You should gladly and assuredly accept the little suffering you are subjected to today and live a meaningful life, like Job, like Peter. … You are people who pursue the right path, those who seek improvement. You are people who rise up in the nation of the great red dragon, those whom God calls righteous. Isn’t that the most meaningful life?” (“Practice (2)”). It was through reading God’s word and the help and fellowship of the brothers and sisters that Xiaofang was awoken and found her way back from going astray, or she would have been swallowed by the evil trends. Thanks to God’s care and protection, she wasn’t depraved thoroughly. This made she even more feel God’s dearness, loveliness and mercy, and she also gradually understood God’s urgent intention. Especially when she read the experience of Job and Peter, she envied their life very much and privately made up her mind to learn from them, and pursue the truth all her life.
Xiaofang firmly decided her way and her life direction, being far from the meaningless money-oriented society and fame and status, and no longer making the dream of luxury and dissipation. She knew that to have food and clothing is to be content. So she bought the train ticket to return home. With the faith and courage, she decided to live a common life steadfastly. Of course, the most important thing was performing her duty well as a creation and walking in God’s way—fearing God and shunning evil.
At the railway station, Sister Wang went to see Xiaofang off, preparing something to eat for her and helping her to settle the baggage. When the train whistled, Sister Wang waved Xiaofang good-bye reluctantly. With the train moving, Sister Wang’s smiling face blurred gradually. Looking at the scene, Xiaofang was so grateful that tears welled up uncontrollably. Feeling Sister Wang was like her family, sheed for Sister Wang in her heart silently, “God, may You watch over and protect the one that loves You and can carry out Your will!”
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