By Liang Zhi
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
“Happiness” is a simple word, but everyone has different interpretations of it. Perhaps you are pursuing your happiness; perhaps you already have your happiness; perhaps you yearn for happiness but nowhere to find. I once thought the two stamped, red marriage certificates, or the first cry of my baby, maybe even the pink-painted wall is my beginning of happiness. However, I was wrong: Marriage, child and family did not bring me happiness, instead the happiness I had wanted was getting further and further away from me …
I opened a store that recycles renewable resources in town center. From that day onwards, everyone starts to call me “Chief”. My classmates, friends, acquaintance and neighbors always patronized my store. All of a sudden my life became busy and lively. My wife, Yan, was also busy taking care of my son’s and my basic necessities of life. Although my wife and I had a common goal, which is to make more money to improve our living conditions, the trivia things in life often made us complain about each other. Our quarrels were just like ocean waves, one wave higher the other.
One day, my mother came to my store. She saw the messy kitchen and started nagging: “Why are all the bowls misplaced? The pot is also not cleaned enough. These potatoes are sprouted but still not cooked to eat, floor also not swept. Why is everywhere so oily …” Yan kept silent and was just busy with her own things. She seemed calm, but I knew she was going to burst out in anger sooner or later and I must be the victim.
After lunch, mom went back home and Yan also just finished cleaning up the utensils. Then she started ranting: “Why is your mom disliking everything I did? What does she want me to do? Taking care of you and son isn’t enough? Have I ever taken a break? I’m not your maid! No one cares about me when I’m exhausted!” She burst into tears of chagrin as she spoke and then she continued to rant.
I listened quietly, as this is the best way to deal with it now. I knew once I started speaking for my mom, it would intensify the whole situation. I did not want the happiness that I pursued to be shattered but there was no way out, so silence was my best choice. I comforted myself in my heart: “Wait and see, Chen Yan, one day I will be rich. I will buy a new house and hire a maid. I will not let you do anything, but now I must wait patiently for that time to come.
However, after every argument, my heart got more and more broken, which also caused me an accumulation of irritability. I couldn’t behave like a woman and vent whenever I want, nor could I behave like a kid and make a fuss over everything. I could only bury all my dissatisfaction in my heart. My only way out is to make more money to change everything …
Afterward, I spent almost all my energy and strength on my business. In order to expand my business, I was busy with socializing everyday, so as to get bigger orders to gain more profits. I spent everyday playing cards, eating suppers, if not treating customers dinners or singing karaoke.
However, every night when I returned home exhausted after working or socializing, my wife would always rage against me: “Why are you only back at this timing? Why are you so selfish? You only care about your own enjoyment, have you ever thought about me and our child? Do you know our child is having high fever and vomited all over the bed?” Yan cried and screamed at me: “What did your bad friends give you? They do not want home, you either? You can go with them tomorrow and don’t ever come back …”
The peaceful night became clamorous: The 500 square feet store echoed with her hoarse cry. I had no more strength to explain, so I collapsed on the floor and let her do anything to me. Yan cried while taking out our marriage certificate from the drawer. Then I heard the sounds of tearing paper. Immediately, my heart was being torn into pieces like the marriage certificate. I felt really tired …
The next day, Yan went back to her mother’s house with our son and all her stuffs. I did not hold her back, because I knew what we need at the moment was quieting ourselves. I sat on the floor, haggard and helpless. Staring at their backs blankly, I reminisced about the day of our marriage: That day Yan looked stunning in her wedding dress with a broad smile on her face. Under the cross, the phrase “Yes, I do” echoed throughout the church. The shining diamond ring, those flowers and applause … Unfortunately, all of these have become history.
It’s been a week but Yan was still not back. My family kept trying to persuade me to bring her back. I knew my life had to continue, so I gave in first. I left my dignity behind and guaranteed Yan never be home late again. At last Yan came back, but in my heart, the scene of happiness has sunk into the deep ocean. Every night I stared into the sky, thinking: “O shooting star, will you bring miracles to me?”
This autumn was significant. For a period of time, an auntie who is my neighbor and a young sister always came to find Yan. As Yan is from another part of the country, she has no friends here. Seeing her enjoying herself with them, I was happy too.
One time as I was bringing them fruits, I inadvertently heard the fellowshiping of the young sister: “In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve and they lived in the Garden of Eden. They enjoyed God’s abundant provision for them, lived happily under God’s care and protection. However, they were tempted by the snake and ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, as a result, they were banished from the Garden of Eden. They strayed away from the protection of God, lost everything they had and lived in darkness. After several thousand years under Satan’s corruption, we become arrogant, greedy, selfish and deceit in order to be rich and live a brilliant life. We treat people and deal with things according to various philosophies of life. We disguise, cheat and take advantage of others. We become more and more indifferent to conscience and integrity, also become more and more depraved. We have lost our original likeness long ago, and our lives become miserable. We felt empty and pain deep inside our heart, living in Satan’s nets, becoming the offspring of Satan and suffering the torture from money and fame. This is the painful consequence of us leaving God.”
The auntie continued: “You’re right. Every family has skeletons in their closet. Nowadays people’s hearts, mindset and lifestyles have changed. There are only profits and transactions among people. We disguise to protect our status, flesh and interest. When we are with our families, we only think for ourselves, splitting hairs to protect our own interests. We all have our own opinions, which ends up both sides harmed and in pain. How did we turn out to be like this? God’s words told us clearly: Because we want to cast off God’s sovereignty and evade God’s arrangements, our hearts have strayed too far away from God, as a result we ended up in Satan’s camp, becoming Satan’s slaves and losing God’s care and protection. Yet God is watching us. He cannot bear to see us being trampled and eaten by Satan, but wants us to go closer to Him, return to the light of His countenance, accept His supply and shepherding and break away from Satan’s bondage.
Their fellowships touched my heart. I felt it was unexpected how two housewifes can see and understand life so thoroughly and what they had discussed sounded very reasonable. It is true that in order to live a wealthy life, I ran my business and socialized based on the philosophy of life. I may look successful and brilliant, but I am the only one who knows the suffering deep inside heart. Life like this is really tiring and painful …
One day, an old classmate invited me for some drinks, I agreed without a second thought. However, I regretted right away after my classmate left, because I had no idea how to explain to Yan. Surprisingly, when I told Yan about it, she agreed forthrightly. After dinner, I was intoxicated. My friend helped me to get back home and it was over 12 am in the morning. I knew I have gone overboard. I was afraid but I couldn’t control myself and vomited all over the floor and bed. I really wanted to slap myself after I woke up, because I did not know how to explain everything to Yan.
However, seeing I was awake, Yan only asked: “Have you drank the tea to help you sober up?” She did not say much and was only cleaning up the mess quietly. Although it was a few minutes, I felt especially long. I thought: This isn’t how Yan would usually react! Usually she would be angry and scream at me. “Yan, why aren’t you angry at me?” I asked cautiously. Yan replied calmly: “I’m furious, but sisters told me before, we should not fall into Satan’s trap. Everything has God’s good intentions, so we should accept them from God.” Yan left the room after she finished and I was stunned.
That day after dinner, Yan spoke to me: “Let me tell you a thing: You know auntie and sisters always come to find me at our store. In fact, they ask me to believe in God with them, so I accept God’s salvation. Through reading God’s words, I realized the root of our pain and sorrow. That’s because we lived under the domain of Satan and lost God’s guidance, hence we became selfish and lost our tolerance and patience; the happiness we wanted is also straying further and further away from us. Looking back at our marriage these years, I often quarreled with you over little things and was being unreasonable to you and our son. Now I realize how selfish I was. I only cared about my own well-being, but never considered your ideas. In the end, I brought you a lot of pain and I was also sad and tired. I read many God’s words with sisters these few months. The more God’s words I understand, the more I feel I should change myself. I must accept God’s salvation, and I believe God’s words can change my heart. Liang Zhi, you should believe in God too. Let’s leave Satan’s camp together and accept God’s words as our life. Only in this way can we have the real happiness. …”
At that moment, tears blurred my vision. It was the first time I heard Yan’s confession. My tears were filled with joy, gratitude, and more of happiness and sweet. I sobbed: “Yan, now I know your knowledge and transformation was because you believe in God! I once thought on how to improve our life and how to satisfy you. I naively thought by making more money and giving you a rich material life would give us peace and happiness, but reality proved me wrong. Through God’s word you read, I found great power in it. It seems like it’s leading people out of the darkness and to obtain light. I believe God’s words can change you and definitely will change me as well and bring us happiness. Yan, actually a lot of times I was going overboard. Although I knew that, I had no power and ways to overcome it. Now God’s words bring us hope, reliance and directions. Yan, I’m willing to believe in God. From now on I will also read God’s words with all of you.” Yan nodded and we smiled happily …
Afterward, I began to live church life, have gatherings and fellowship with brothers and sisters. I felt very peaceful at heart. Although there were difficulties in life, I was able to find ways to practice through God’s words. I was not as helpless as before, instead, everyday my heart is steadfast. Between Yan and I, we also have common topics, do not quarrel again. When we face conflicts, we will read God’s words and open to each other to talk about our own ideas and opinions, recognize our own deficiencies and problems and at last we will reach a consensus. Although our life is very simple, it’s filled with joy. I finally live the life of happiness I have pursued.
When I opened the drawer, I found the torn marriage certificates were being stuck together again. Even though there were many traces, I believe it was our painful past and also is the start of our happy life …