By Xia Zixuan
The Gloomy Childhood
In Zixuan’s childhood, she didn’t have her parents’ company, nor knew the taste of the cakes spoken of by the children living in the city, nor saw the golden fish blow bubbles in the fish bowl. Every night she listened her grandfather tell the story of Bai Yutang, nicknamed “Sleek Rat”, a fictional knight-errant from the Chinese novel The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants, instead of the Green Fairy Tales. Her father’s desertion and mother’s remarriage made her self-based in her childhood, and even became a persistent shadow in her life. Especially when she saw her peers have their own parents’ care and company, she would feel a wave of sorrow.
In the millennium, Zixuan was taken to live with her mother in the city. However, Zixuan thought that her stepfather was, after all, unlike her own father, because they were not related in blood. Influenced by this standpoint, she could not accept her stepfather, and what’s more, she was hostile to her family. Over these years, the conflicts unceasingly arose in her family because of her, and became steadily escalated. Her entire family lived in misery.
The Unbridgeable Chasm
Since her mother remarried, Zixuan had kept a large gap with her stepfather. People often say: “Blood is thicker than water,” and only the affection built upon the blood relation is the real father and daughter in the world. Zixuan firmly believed this saying. Though her stepfather was good to her, Zixuan felt that he was, after all, not her own father. So, she took her stepfather’s kindness to her as a fake image, thinking that he intentionally did this before her mother. Unknowingly, there were many conflicts between them. The causes of some disputes were not worth mentioning, but once these disputes happened between them, it would become a conflict against conscience and reason.
One time, when they argued about whether the mushroom should be scalded or not, they stuck to their respective opinions. Finally, they parted on bad terms and didn’t talk with each other for half a month. Zixuan’s mother, caught in between her husband and daughter, was in a dilemma, not knowing which side she should stand on. So, she simply chose to take a neutral attitude, spreading the blame around and giving both a good scolding, and then took the rule “Respect the old and love the young” to discipline them. Restricted by this rule, Zixuan and her stepfather “got along well” with each other before her mother. But whenever Zixuan’s mother was not at home, they would still quarrel. Zixuan was always the one starting a dispute. Because she was younger, she would be naturally scolded. This made her feel more miserable and further feel that her stepfather would always be a stepfather, who had no ties of kindred with her, and that if he were her natural father, he would never treat her like this. The relationship between them seemed to be a gulf that could never be bridged.
Their Relationship Almost Reached Its End
However, something that they could not tolerate happened. It was the most painful year for her whole family. Because of the rising family disputes, her family was on the brink of falling apart. All this was caused by the matter of whether the window should be opened or not.
The winter solstice came and the temperature dropped. Because it was cold, Zixun’s stepfather’s sinusitis recurred. As long as it was warm in their home, he couldn’t stand it. So he had to open all the windows of the balcony to air the room. However, Zixuan thought: We have paid the heating costs, but the windows are opened wide, just like an open area. Isn’t it wasting money? Moreover, she was afraid of cold because of her deficiency of blood, so she insisted on not opening the windows. As a result, they stood on equal ground. Zixuan thought her stepfather was after all not her natural father, so he didn’t love her; however, the stepfather thought that he had raised Zixuan for over ten years and paid much effort for her, but she didn’t show any consideration for him. Zixuan’s mother had reached the end of her tolerance, and really couldn’t bear it. So, she scolded them, “What do you regard me as? Over these years, you have never thought about my feeling. Do you know my situation? I’ve been caught in between you two for eighteen years….” Zixuan’s stepfather also really couldn’t bear this, and he initiated a divorce. Zixuan felt she didn’t want to live such kind of life any longer, so she said angrily to her stepfather, “All right! Let’s go separate ways. I have grown up. I can support my mother. All the property is yours, and I won’t take even a penny. You brought me up, and I will pay maintenance to you in the future.” Seeing this scene, her mother felt helpless and could only shed tears in the dining room. That winter was really a bitter winter for their family of three.
Zixuan was very distressed and tormented. She couldn’t accept her stepfather, but she had yet to know what to do. She could only cry out to the sky silently every day, “Oh, Good Heavens! What should I do? …”
God Saved Her
In misery, God’s salvation fell upon Zixuan and changed the fates of all her family. Zixuan saw God’s words say: “One has no say in who one’s parents and relatives are, what kind of environment one grows up in; one’s relationships with the people, events, and things in one’s surroundings, and how they influence one’s development, are all beyond one’s control. Who decides these things, then? Who arranges them? Since people have no choice in the matter, since they cannot decide these things for themselves, and since they obviously do not take shape naturally, it goes without saying that the formation of all this rests in the hands of the Creator. Just as the Creator arranges the particular circumstances of every person’s birth, He also arranges the specific circumstances under which one grows up, needless to say. If a person’s birth brings changes to the people, events, and things around him or her, then that person’s growth and development will necessarily affect them as well. For example, some people are born into poor families, but grow up surrounded by wealth; others are born into affluent families but cause their families’ fortunes to decline, such that they grow up in poor environments. No one’s birth is governed by a fixed rule, and no one grows up under an inevitable, fixed set of circumstances. These are not things that a person can imagine or control; they are the products of one’s fate, and are determined by one’s fate. Of course, the bottom line is that they are predestined for a person’s fate by the Creator, they are determined by the Creator’s sovereignty over, and His plans for, that person’s fate.”
God’s words enlightened Zixuan, and she realized: The family in which everyone is born, the circumstances in which they grow up, and who their parents are, and so on all come from the Creator’s sovereignty and predestination, and aren’t decided by their parents or their own choice. Zixuan thought: “I was born into a poor family and lived with my grandparents since my childhood, and afterward my mother remarried and built a family with my stepfather. These environments and circumstances in which I grew up were all ordained and arranged by the Creator. But over all these years I have been dissatisfied with my family and complained that I have a terrible fate. I believe that it is not a complete family if I don’t have my natural father’s company, so I have created barriers with my stepfather and quarreled with him, living in pain all the time. Isn’t it because I’m displeased with the Creator’s sovereignty and predestination?” But she couldn’t understand what actually causes her to be dissatisfied with the Creator’s predestination.
In the evening, Zixuan sat before her desk and continued to look for answers from the book of God’s word. She saw God’s words say: “Born into such a filthy land, man has been severely blighted by society, he has been influenced by feudal ethics, and he has been taught at ‘institutes of higher learning.’ The backward thinking, corrupt morality, mean view on life, despicable philosophy, utterly worthless existence, and depraved lifestyle and customs—all of these things have severely intruded upon man’s heart, and severely undermined and attacked his conscience. As a result, man is ever more distant from God, and ever more opposed to Him.” “But when you truly know, when you truly come to recognize that God has sovereignty over human fate, when you truly understand that everything God has planned for and decided for you is a great benefit, and is a great protection, then you feel your pain gradually lighten, and the whole of you become relaxed, free, liberated.”
Zixuan suddenly saw the light. She understood that the reason why she couldn’t get along well with her stepfather for so many years was because she was affected by Satan’s traditional thinking “Blood is thicker than water.” She falsely believed that only the people who were related in blood with her were her real relatives. So, she thought that her stepfather would always be a stepfather and that he couldn’t compare with her natural father. No matter how kind her stepfather was to her, she thought it as a false front and couldn’t believe that what her stepfather did was out of his sincerity. Thus, for more than ten years, she couldn’t accept and understand him. Though enjoying his nurturing, she didn’t know to be grateful and often disputed with him about some trifles. In the end, she brought harm to her stepfather and great misery to her mother. She herself was also greatly tormented. Zixuan recalled that her natural father was addicted to gambling and didn’t care for her. Her grandparents were too old to support her. Though she and her stepfather were not related by blood, yet he was willing to shoulder the responsibility of supporting her—supplying her with food, clothing and education. Thinking of this, she felt the Creator’s arrangements for her were the best, so she could live comfortably in her stepfather’s home. But she was blinded by the poisons “Blood is thicker than water” and “The family without relation in blood is not a whole one,” which twisted her attitude toward her family. So, she couldn’t accept her stepfather, nor integrated herself into this blended family. At this time, Zixuan had a sour taste in her mouth. Thinking that she was ungrateful to him for his care and love, and that she didn’t show any gratitude to the Creator’s love, she felt she lacked conscience and rationality.
After understanding these, Zixuan’s heart was finally brightened. Her years of gloom were dispelled. Zixuan offered up ato God, “O God! Your arrangements for me are the best. But I have been deceived by Satan and bound by its viewpoint ‘Blood is thicker than water,’ complaining my fate and not accepting and obeying Your arrangements. These years I have brought great harm and pain to my stepfather and mother. God, I’m willing to put aside my absurd views, obey Your sovereignty and arrangements for my fate. May You regain my reason and conscience and make me live by Your words in this family. Amen!”
A New Beginning
From then on, Zixuan began to cherish her family and relatives arranged by the Creator. Under the watering of God’s words, she seemed to grow up and become sensible. She no longer treated her stepfather as an outsider but loved him as her family. She also learned to be considerate of her stepfather and mother, and did what she could do to her utmost. Zixuan voluntarily cooked three meals a day and at a minimum ensured that her stepfather and mother could eat the meals as soon as they arrived at home. When the sun shone, she aired her stepfather’s quilt. When her stepfather expressed his viewpoints, she would not resist but learn to respect him. Gradually, she found that each and every detail of her family preordained by God was out of His love.
It was a scorching day. Her step father bought Zixuan’s favorite nonlocal muskmelons for her in the distance. When he came back, he sweated all over with his bronzed face. He said to Zixuan’s mother secretly, “It’s not easy to buy the muskmelon. It’s especially for our daughter. You’d better eat less.” Sometimes, Zixuan stayed up to read books till 2 a.m., so her stepfather specially bought a bright headlamp so she could use it conveniently. … Her stepfather had these behaviors at ordinary times, but at that time Zixuan took them lightly. When she changed her viewpoints and took a fresh look at these, she was moved to tears. Not until then did she saw that this family arranged by the Creator had the warmth of love. However, she was always complaining and didn’t feel all this. Thinking of this, she gratefully offered belated thanks and praise to the Creator.
Later, as her stepfather bought vegetables in the market, Zixuan usually helped him. When some acquaintances saw this, they admired her stepfather and considered that he was good at educating her. Her stepfather usually spoke well of her before her mother, saying that she had grown up and became sensible and considerate. The long-lost smile appeared on Zixuan’s mother’s face. Zixuan eventually came out of years of sufferings, living in joy and peace.
From then on, God’s words became the principles of their interactions with one another, and even more became the standards of their actions. The previous disputes were replaced by the truth, and the complaints were replaced by tolerance…. Although there are no blood ties between Zixuan and her stepfather, they were closer than father and daughter. The care and forbearance they showed each other transcended affection and blood relation. It was God’s words that had changed all this and helped them to repair the fractured family relationship.