By Zhang Hao, China
The Bible says: “Follow peace with all men” (Hebrews 12:14). As a Christian, I usually acted according to this verse, but lately, when things frequently befell me that were not in line with my notions, I couldn’t really practice this.
I’m a dishwasher at a restaurant. There are four of us in the kitchen: Sister Chen is responsible for seafood dishes, the new coworker Xiaohua for vegetable dishes, Xiao Zhang for serving at table, and I for doing the dishes. Despite the clear division of labor, each time when Xiaohua did her work, she would order me: “Sister, go get a bowl.” “Sister, wash the leeks.” … Once she got an order, she would ask me to do this or that so that I had to bustle about to get everything necessary ready for her before she began to cook. Each time being bossed around like this, I felt annoyed and thought to myself: “These are all your responsibilities, not mine. But you’re always telling me to do these things for you. You are just so relaxed.” But then I thought: “Since we work together, we should help each other. I don’t have to make a clear demarcation with her. Moreover, while she is preparing dishes, I’m not busy. So it didn’t matter that I helped her.” Then I got this over.
However, as time went on, I still felt like I didn’t want to take this, especially when Xiaohua bossed me around as if she were my leader, but she was just standing there watching orders, leisurely. What’s more, when I was busy doing the dishes, she was playing with her phone instead of doing me a favor. Gradually, I developed a prejudice against her as I thought: “How come you’re so selfish? I always help you, but why don’t you lend me a hand when you’re not occupied? I don’t expect you to help me often; it’s fine that you can occasionally put dishes on the shelf for me when I’m overwhelmingly busy. But for so many days, you’ve never helped me. If you continue this way, I won’t give you a hand anymore.” In spite of thinking of this, I felt bad to see her busying herself, but when I helped her, I felt exploited. My heart felt tied up in knots.
I knew that I am a Christian and shouldn’t make a fuss with others, but thinking of how Xiaohua bossed me around as if she were my leader, I felt irritated and didn’t want to face her. And I thought: “Maybe I can come a little later or I can stay upstairs when she is preparing dishes. This way, I can avoid being ordered by her.” However, when I thought of this, I felt an inexpressible emotion well up in my heart. I therefore came before the Lord and prayed: “O Lord! I always feel vexed recently. My coworker often orders me around, and I’m unwilling to face this. I don’t know how to experience this. Lord, may You lead me.”
After that, I read what the Lord Jesus said in the Bible: “You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his flavor, with which shall it be salted? it is thereafter good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13–16). As can be seen from these verses, the Lord required us to be the salt and the light of the earth in all things of everyday life, to glorify and witness Him. Practicing the Lord’s words is being the light; getting along harmoniously with others, being willing to help others out, and letting others benefit—this is being the salt. Looking at myself in the light of the Lord’s requirements, I realized that in my interaction with Xiaohua, I failed to be the light and the salt. Though at first I helped her when she asked me to, seeing that she didn’t offer to help me when I was busy, I began to dislike her and even feel fed up with her. And I even thought that I would avoid her when she was busy or refuse her when she told me to do things again. Thinking about it now, with this way of living out, I couldn’t get along peacefully with her and wasn’t truly loving toward her. This wasn’t being the salt and the light. As I pondered the Lord’s demands for us, I felt really ashamed. I saw that I was living by my corrupt disposition of selfishness, and that my interaction with others was established on the basis of interests. I thought since I helped Xiaohua, she should also help me, so seeing she didn’t do that, I didn’t want to help her any longer. No matter what I did, I required recompense, and without it, I felt I lost out. I saw that I never rose early unless there was an associated benefit. I was not a believer in God! During this period, I always felt annoyed, fed up with Xiaohua and bored with these troubling things at work. Wasn’t this just because I didn’t put the Lord’s words into practice? I should light up others with my living out—having love for others, and not caring about how much work I would do, but doing the work well together with my coworker. Practicing the Lord’s words in real life and thus being admired by others, wasn’t this something that glorified the Lord? Wouldn’t I be much happier by practicing like this than by being too petty? Once I thought of these things, I knew what to do. The trouble within my heart vanished like smoke in the air.
In the days that followed, when I saw that Xiaohua needed help, I would actively prepare what she needed. And when she bossed me around again, I didn’t feel tired of that, nor did I feel that I was taken advantage of.
One day, when cooking, Xiaohua said: “Sister, go wash the leeks.” “OK!” I replied. Then I quickly walked over to the refrigerator. I took out the leeks, smartly washed them, and handed them to her. And I said: “What else can I do for you? Let me know and I’ll do it so that we can do the work together quickly.” She said, smiling: “Nothing else. I’ll do the work myself. Sister, recently, I’ve always had you do this or that. It’s not appropriate. I’ve become aware of that, but I’m still not able to change in the moment, as I’ve been used to giving out orders in my former working unit. Please don’t lower yourself to my level.” What she said surprised me, and I said with a smile: “It doesn’t matter. We are both working here, and it’s fine as long as we can do the work well together.” Then, we both laughed.
After that, when Xiaohua wasn’t busy cooking, she would occasionally put the washed dishes on the shelf for me. Seeing this, I thanked the Lord in my heart: “O Lord, I give thanks to You! I’ve experienced that as long as I practice in accordance with Your words then I’ll have a path to follow in my life. And now I’m without worries, anger or complaints, but at peace and joyous.”
Now I’ve understood that when things happen to us, as long as we pray to the Lord and practice His words, we will then be able to be the light and the salt and bear witness to Him. From now on, I wish to practice the Lord’s words more, glorify His name in my life, and finally become a Christian who conforms to the Lord’s will. Amen!