By Wen Jing
In the kitchen, An Lan banged herself on the sore waist, rolled up her sleeves and continued to do the dishes. The door opened with a creak and her daughter-in-law, Yuqing unhappily came in. She walked straight to the kitchen, and then discontentedly complained at the door: “You see that when one of your son’s friends got married, his parents not only presented betrothal gifts of 100,000 yuan to his wife but also made a down payment on his apartment. However, when I got married, you just presented me with 60,000 yuan. Besides, my classmates all find partners who have apartments and cars, but I have nothing. So when I’m with them, I even feel I’m dwarfed by them.” These words immediately evoked An Lan’s anger, and her heart churned unceasingly: It’s not the case that we haven’t told you at the beginning we couldn’t afford an apartment. Now you bring up this topic again. Is it not intentional? Seeing An Lan didn’t say anything, Yuqing kept on complaining. At this time, An Lan was even more filled with anger. Then she quickly cleaned up the kitchen, found a reason and walked out.
When she was walking in the street, a couple of women, who were likely to be mother-in-law and daughter-in-law or mother and daughter, brushed past An Lan. Seeing them talking and laughing happily, She was very envious. Then, she couldn’t help but sigh. Thinking back to what had happened at home just now, she thought: When can my daughter-in-law and I have a harmonious relationship like this? Alas! Now I dislike her more and more. She is lavish of money, but still wants to eat well, drink well, and enjoy good things. Is this not simply daydreaming? She has spoken for a long while. Was this not said to me? My husband and I are old, and we just support our family by farming, so we really can’t afford a new apartment. Thinking of this, An Lan was distressed as though she was scorched and burned by fire. At the same time, scene after scene of her getting along with Yuqing appeared in her mind …
After Yuqing married into her family, An Lan was delighted from the bottom of her heart and treated Yuqing as her own daughter. When there was something good to eat, she gave it to Yuqing, and never asked Yuqing to do any housework, and their relationship was not bad. Therefore, she thought she was able to get along harmoniously with her daughter-in-law. Who could have imagined that, their relationship began to change quietly.
One day, Yuqing happily entered into their house with a bag. An Lan knew this child must get paid, if not, how could she be so happy? Sure enough, Yuqing narrowed her eyes, counted them off on her fingers and said to An Lan: “I earned 2,400 yuan this month. I gave 1000 yuan as returns to my friend when she got married, paid 500-yuan rent and paid phone bill, and then used the rest of money to pay my living expenses. Mum, I’ve just spent all my monthly salary in a month and I’m the typical one who lives from paycheck to paycheck, so I can’t pay you back this month.” An Lan felt it was not so much that Yuqing couldn’t pay her back. But when she heard the words “I’m the typical one who lives from paycheck to paycheck,” she felt very displeased and immediately looked unhappy and said: “Whether you can or can’t doesn’t matter. However, Qingqing, when you live life, no matter what, you should save for a rainy day but shouldn’t spend all your money. Since the day is still long, you must plan for your future. When you give presents as returns, you should consider how much money you have and cut your coat according to your cloth.” Hearing this, Yuqing pulled a long face at once and disapprovingly said, “Mum, what age do we live in? Even if I must borrow money, I must also give presents as returns and I can’t give less money than others. Otherwise, I will feel so ashamed before my friends.” After that, Yuqing rolled her eyes, flung her bag onto the sofa, and went into her own room. An Lan had never thought Yuqing could lose her temper with her. She unavoidably felt somewhat angry and thought: I save part of my husband’s salary each month and budget carefully. However, this child used up her monthly salary. In this way, how can she live well? Is she not a spendthrift? As she thought of these, the good image of Yuqing was immediately overturned in her heart.
From then on, they had more conflicts and An Lan disliked Yuqing’s lifestyle more and more. One day, Yuqing complained against her, “Your cooking is not good. Someday I will ask your son to take me to eat boiled fish with pickled cabbage and chill at a restaurant.” She refuted Yuqing: “It’s not right to simmer pickled vegetables and fish together. The pickled vegetables are sour, while the fish is fishy. Then, how can it be delicious?” Yuqing was not convinced and answered back: “It’s cooked with southern vegetables instead of our northern pickled vegetables. You’re really old, so you’re ignorant. You can’t keep pace with and simply fall behind the times.” The word “ignorant” like a knife pierced An Lan’s heart. Though she said nothing, within her heart there were turbulent storms. She thought: If we live this way that we enjoy delicious food every day, how can we save some money? How can we continue to live our lives? If you still live in such a way, no matter how much money you have, you will dissipate it all.
When An Lan was thinking, a gust of chill winds swept in and interrupted her thought. She quietly walked with worry in her eyes all the time. Later, she thought: This thing happened with God’s permission, and God’s good will was involved here. As a Christian, when I encounter an issue, I shouldn’t analyze whether it’s right or wrong, true or false. Instead, I should seek God’s will. Thinking of this, her heart brightened and she walked to her home in a hurry.
After she came back home, she knelt to pray to God and told God her true thoughts in the heart. After praying, she saw God’s words, “When you encounter this sort of situation, both parties should adapt to each other; none of these are actual shortcomings. People live for so many years, and are unhappy with eighty or ninety percent of what they encounter. You frown upon this and disapprove of that, but what do you dislike? Some of these things are actually your own problems, so you should not make a big deal out of them. When people get older, they realize that they are not noble, and that they are no better than others. Do not think that you are superior to other people, or more dignified and distinguished than they are; you must learn to adapt to your environment. To adapt to your environment, you must first realize something: There are all kinds of people out there, with all sorts of living habits. Living habits do not represent a person’s humanity. Just because your living habits are disciplined, normal, and dignified does not mean you possess the truth. You need to get this fact through your head, and gain a positive appreciation for it. Furthermore, God has arranged such a fantastic environment for you. You have too many personal issues; you must learn to adapt, and not pick at the bad habits of others. Moreover, you have to be able to get along with them based on love, and get close to them; you need to see their strengths, learn from their strengths, and then pray to God and overcome your own problems. This is the attitude and practice of submission” (“The Five Conditions People Have Before They Enter the Right Track of Believing in God”). God’s words lit up her heart like a ray of light at once and she felt pleased and thought: Was I not this kind of person God says? I couldn’t adapt to the environment, and didn’t have an obedient heart. I also exalted myself under the dominance of my arrogant nature and made the viewpoint that I believed to be correct the standard. When others did things in a way not in keeping with my own thoughts, I looked down upon this and disliked that. Is that not the case? I couldn’t bear to see my daughter-in-law being lavish of money; I couldn’t stand her going out to eat what she wanted; I disliked seeing she didn’t save money but wanted to live a life with an apartment and a car…. In a word, I disliked all her lifestyle. I even compared my notions of life with hers, and then I thought that I was better than she, that I managed our household with industry and frugality, and that I was a good manager. Therefore, I even more looked down upon and disliked her. I also wanted to make her live according to my notions of life. As a result, when she didn’t listen to me, I became angrier…. It turned out what I revealed were all corrupt dispositions. I was too arrogant, and I always demanded too high and too much of her, and I didn’t view her correctly. These caused the estrangement, and led to the generation gap between her and me, and thus we lived in pain. Now I understood God placed such a daughter-in-law for me to change my arrogant disposition. When I get along with her, I shouldn’t pick at her, nor should I ask her to live in my way. Instead, I should let go of myself, adapt to the environment and get along with her based on love, so that we can love each other, and live in harmony. I also should carry out the truth in life and live out the likeness of a true human in order to testify to God and honor God. Having understood God’s will, she didn’t feel distressed as before. She determined to act in accordance with God’s requirements.
Time rolled along, and life went on. This day, Yuqing happily said to An Lan with her iPhone in her hand: “Mum, my iPhone is broken and I don’t want it. I desire to buy a Vivo X9s Plus smartphone.” Hearing this, An Lan immediately said: “Your iPhone cost four or five thousand yuan, and it’s expensive. It can still work if you change a screen. Why not change a screen for it in your spare time?” Yuqing pulled a long face and unhappily said: “I don’t want to do that. I only want to buy a Vivo X9s Plus smartphone which has a bigger screen.” Hearing her words, An Lan’s heart was awfully choked and she thought: This iPhone cost so much money, but she says she doesn’t want to use it and she won’t use it. Besides, she wants to pay four or five thousand yuan for a new cellphone. This child is indifferent to how much money she spends. This is no good manager! Oh no, I must dissuade her from buying a new smartphone. When she was about to speak, she suddenly realized: Is this not that I want to control her and force her to listen to me? Am I not too arrogant? This is not like someone who acts according to the word of God! Then she quickly prayed to God in her heart: “God! Through this thing, I see I was so arrogant that I insisted that my daughter-in-law act according to my intentions. God, I’m unwilling to live based on my corrupt dispositions. Please lead and enlighten me.”
After the, An Lan thought of God’s words, “When parents talk down to their child and say, ‘I’m your father (or mother)! You must do as I say!’ the child takes exception to this ‘must’; it’s definitely not an expression of normal humanity. … If both sides lived by normal humanity, and if they were able to reach possession of the truth, with both sides putting themselves in each other’s shoes, and taking into account each other’s difficulties, from the perspective of normal humanity, and both sides standing on an equal footing when they interacted, spoke to each other, and did things, would this stop the estrangement developing between them? What causes what the unbelievers call the ‘generation gap’? Isn’t it that the older generation acts high and mighty, and the younger generation doesn’t like them doing so, which produces the estrangement, and leads to the generation gap—isn’t that how it comes about? If parents don’t act high and mighty, and the children can open up to them, and treat them as intimates, could there still be the estrangement between them?” (“What Should One Possess, at the Very Least, to Have Normal Humanity”). At this point, An Lan understood: One of the main reasons that there is a generation gap between parents and kids is that parents only consider their own thoughts, that they don’t figure out their kids, and that they don’t put themselves in kids’ place to consider the difficulties of kids. Instead, they are always controlled by the arrogant nature and are in high positions asking their kids to listen to them in this, and to act as they wish in that. As a result, when what kids do is not in line with their will, they will be displeased and fixate their eyes on their kids. Then she reflected on herself: Did I not always put on the airs of a parent and desire to control my daughter-in-law? I flaunted and showed off my seniority, imposed my notions of life on her, and asked her to live in my way. In fact, this is really the case. Everyone has his own freedom, and the right to choose his own lifestyle. I am a created being, and so is my daughter-in-law, so what right do I have to require her to accept my notions of life? Is what I keep all correct? I have to put aside my opinions and understanding. I shouldn’t always restrain my daughter-in-law. Instead, I should consider her feelings from her perspective and let her choose by herself. Nowadays, young people all like to follow the fashion, and it’s normal for her to want a cellphone with a big screen. Thinking of this, An Lan’s heart was gradually released and she said to Yuqing with a smile: “I’m old with fuddy-duddy ideas, and I don’t understand you young people. Never mind my words. It’s okay for you to buy a smartphone with a big screen. Tomorrow I will accompany you to buy one.” Yuqing gave An Lan a surprised look, smiled and nodded her head happily.
The next day, they gladly went to a mobile shop. What An Lan didn’t expect was that Yuqing thoughtfully said: “Mum, I won’t buy a Vivo X9s Plus smartphone as it’s a little expensive. I would rather buy a Vivo X7 Plus smartphone.” Hearing this, An Lan looked at Yuqing and smiled thankfully.
From then on, when she got along with Yuqing, though she still disliked Yuqing’s lifestyle, she would consciously pray to God and seek the way to practice in God’s words. When she acted according to the word of God, her arrogant disposition gradually changed a lot and she also could understand her daughter-in-law. Yuqing obviously saw the transformation of An Lan, and she no longer complained as before. Instead, she could open her mind and often had a heart-to-heart talk with An Lan. When she wanted to do something, she would consult with An Lan and respect her opinions. She said to An Lan: “Mum, I don’t want to buy an apartment. You can save my father’s salary. I have grown up and I shouldn’t spend your money anymore.” An Lan had never expected Yuqing could say such sensible words. She knew well it was under the guidance of God’s words that she resolved the conflicts between her daughter-in-law and her and she was thankful to God.
The sun was setting in the west. The last rays of the setting sun spilled down the green fields. Immediately, the fields donned its mantle of gold, looking especially beautiful. An Lan and Yuqing finished the farm work and were walking home talking and laughing. Seeing they were in harmony, their neighbor said with envy: “See how well they get on with each other. If we didn’t know their relation, who would be able to realize they are mother-in-law and daughter-in-law?” The others all nodded in agreement. Hearing these words, An Lan and Yuqing grinned from ear to ear …
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