A book tells me: When other people hurt you, you must face them with smiles, for only in this way can your heart be filled with love and sunshine.
In real life, however, I am unable to smile at those who hurt me, nor can I let go of my resentment toward them, unless …
My Relationship With My Mother-in-Law Breaks Up on the Mid-Autumn Festival
Last Mid-Autumn Festival, soon after I returned home from my parents’, my mother-in-law said to me coolly: “You shouldn’t return to your parents’ house. As the saying goes: ‘A married daughter is like poured-out water.’ Since you’ve married my son, you should live properly here, but you often go to your parents’ house. You know clearly that today is the Mid-Autumn Festival, but you haven’t bought any moon cakes or fruits (In China, the moon cake, a traditional festival food, is given as gifts to relatives or enjoyed at family dinners every Mid-Autumn Festival). Yet, you remembered to visit your parents so well. You must have bought lots of gifts for them.”
Seeing my mother-in-law scolding me in front of her nephew who was then living in our house, without treating me with any dignity, the anger in my heart immediately raised its head. I thought: “It’s been almost eight months since I went to my parents’ house last time. How can you say I often go back? Aren’t you clearly finding fault with me? You know clearly that I told your son to buy fruits and moon cakes the day before yesterday. He hasn’t done it; how am I to blame? Scolding me in the presence of your relative, it’s too much!”
Unable to hold back my anger, I asked in reply: “I told your son to buy moon cakes and fruits the day before yesterday when I was going back to my parents’ home, but he hasn’t. Can you blame me? Besides, you could ask your son for money to buy. How come you say that I shouldn’t return to my parents’ home?”
Unexpectedly, my mother-in-law said: “You don’t earn any money and spend my son’s. When you went visit your parents, didn’t you spend his money to buy gifts?”
Hearing her words, I felt like I had been kicked in the gut, and I thought: “I just went visit my parents. What are you getting so mad for? Shouldn’t I have bought some moon cakes for my parents? When you got sick before, your treatments cost a lot of money, plus we also need to defray your daily expenses; I have never said anything about this. But today you’re just finding fault with me.” The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I didn’t want to see her anymore, so I turned on my heel and left. As I walked, I thought to myself: “Don’t expect me to do your laundry anymore. I don’t want to say one more word to you! I really want to move out; then I won’t face you every day!”
What Should I Do in the Midst of Pain?
The seeds of resentment began to root and germinate in my heart. I knew that, as a Christian, I shouldn’t hold on to grudges against my mother-in-law, but whenever I thought of what she had said, I still couldn’t let go of my resentment and forgive her. Afterward, although we met every day, I didn’t talk to her as a way to vent my dissatisfaction. By rights, I should have been happy by blowing off steam in this way, but the more I did so, the more depressed and upset I became—I didn’t know why.
In pain, I came before God to pay: “God, since I failed to buy mooncakes for her before I went to my parents’ house, my mother-in-law was unhappy with me, and she even embarrassed me in front of her relative. Seeing how she didn’t have any regard for me, I started to become very angry, and even resent her. God, my heart is deeply tormented. I don’t want to live in this state. Please lead me out of my difficulties and point out the way ahead of me.”
I Understand God’s Will and Have a Way Forward
Later, I read these Bible verses: “[Y]ou are sealed to the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:30–32). After reading these verses, I understood that as a believer in the Lord, in my interactions with others I shouldn’t fuss over things as worldly people did, but instead I should behave according to the Lord’s teachings, let go of my resentment against others, and learn to forgive them. Only by doing this could I gain the Lord’s approval. However, when my mother-in-law embarrassed me, I resented her and even involved in a cold war with her. I was not tolerant or patient at all. How could this kind of behavior be worthy of the Lord’s praise?
With this in mind, I deeply repented in my heart. Why was it that I was not able to be tolerant of my mother-in-law and developed prejudices against her over a trivial matter? Wasn’t it just because she scolded me in front of her relative and caused me to lose face? Therefore, I resented her, ignored her, didn’t want to do her laundry, and even wanted to move out to avoid facing her. I saw that I had lost all semblance of a Christian but instead I was living in resentment, which left me feeling miserable. At that moment, I understood that in our interactions only by conducting ourselves according to the Lord’s words and showing others tolerance and love will we have peace and joy. Just as the Lord’s words say: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39). Not only do we have to have love for God, but we also have to be loving and tolerant toward others. No matter how others treat us, we shouldn’t fixate on the faults of others, but instead, we should be able to treat others in accordance with the Lord’s words and live out a likeness as God requires of us, for only in this way can we receive the Lord’s favor. Thinking of this, I suddenly understood that rather than living in resentment of my mother-in-law, it would be better to let go of myself, be forgiving with her and be a reasonable person who was after the Lord’s heart. At that moment, I felt a significant release in my heart, and I no longer made a fuss over what my mother-in-law had said. Later, in my interactions with her, I was able to speak with her normally like I had before, and the resentment I held in my heart began to disappear.
My Mother-in-Law Apologizes to Me and We Get Along As We Once Did
What surprised me was that, while we were eating lunch several days later, my mother-in-law whispered to me apologetically: “What happened a few days ago was my fault. At the time my nephew was living with us, and it just so happened to be the Mid-Autumn Festival, but you failed to buy fruits and moon cakes before you went back to your parents’ house. I was afraid that my nephew would tell his family after he went back home that you couldn’t handle affairs well, buying nothing during the Mid-Autumn Festival, and that you were not filial toward me. That was why I said those words to you. Only later did I realize that my words were hurtful to you and that I wasn’t considerate of your reputation and feelings. It was my fault. Forgive me.” I said to her with a smile: “It was also partly my fault. If I had given you money beforehand, you could have bought whatever you wanted, and maybe our conflicts wouldn’t have arisen.” After I had finished, my heart felt liberated, and I sincerely gave thanks and praise to the Lord.
What I Have Come to Know From My Experiences
Through this matter, I experienced that the Lord’s words are the truth, and that only His words can change us and resolve the resentment in our hearts. At the same time, I also came to understand that, after we human beings have been corrupted by Satan, not only are we unable to love each other, but we are full of strife, causing our hearts to be filled with bitterness and wrath that we ourselves are powerless to escape. Only by coming before the Lord and acting according to the Lord’s teachings can we attain release and freedom, and can our hearts be full of peace and joy.