Neither Resentment Nor Regrets

Told by Fei Peng, translated by Eugene Wu

I lived in an artist’s world of self admiration when I was young, but now I am the mother of four, carrying the responsibility of loving and caring for my children whether I like it or not. This is a growing pain but also a part of the joy of growing. This is a choice of course, out of my own willingness.

Days of dreaming

I always liked dreaming ever since I was young. While others were having fun playing, I would be content with a book, some music, and a patch of shade. My five brothers and sisters could not intrude into my world. My parents adopted an enlightened and laissez-faire attitude toward us, but they never realized that I preferred to live in my own world, never minding any traces, regardless of how beautiful, that were left by people around me. It was only from my classmates’ farewell notes left in my graduation album that I learned how my aloofness and self-adulation had made other people uneasy and even brought harm to some. I had one or two friends, and they were all like me who thought no end of themselves. We were all in pursuit of high art and scholarship but awkward at social intercourse, and impatient in dealing with trivial matters.

True self reflection

Can I truly experience the difficulties of others? Can I share others’ burdens with enthusiasm? Can I understand the price in blood and sweat ordinary but real people pay everyday in order to provide for their family and have some security? Countless people like that have passed me by, what can I do for them? What did I do for them? I did not understand love and did not know how to love. I didn’t know where to find calmness of mind, and neither did I know how to face the challenges of a seemingly ordinary daily life. Then, God entered the picture. He, according to His plan, brought my future husband into my life. I began to meet his friends from the business world. Although my conversations with them were mostly trivial, there was a sense of sincerity and warmth in our interaction. His parents were industrious, humble, and generous in giving to charities. My husband-to-be was easy to be with, regardless of an artist’s rigorous albeit romantic approach to things that were within him. He could easily be the most popular person that brought smiles to people’s faces.

Life as a student overseas

God took another step and brought me to the United States, and I entered an entirely different culture and society. This required me to face life with a fresh and cautious attitude. Using my limited language skills, I began interacting with the Americans (foreigners to me) and every situation became the subject of my learning. At that time, there weren’t that many Chinese in the area where my school was located, but we often got together for meals. Due to the fact that I didn’t have much contact with people in the past, I often appeared uncomfortable with many people, and I also lacked empathy toward them.  While I realized the consequences of these personality traits, it was hard to make any kind of a breakthrough. Sometimes I prayed for God’s guidance and help, but always felt that life was hard and that it was much better to be just by myself.

Growth hormone

After I got married, I followed my husband in his job search and began experiencing the hardships in life. We lived in Phoenix first. I was expecting a child but did not have health insurance; our car was constantly having trouble and couldn’t be driven; my husband’s salary was held up by his company because of the delay in his application to have his immigration status adjusted. Once healthy and strong, my husband was suffering again from asthma attacks and couldn’t sleep at nights. The pressure of life’s realities cooled off any and all of my unrealistic hopes, and I had no way to go but to turn to God for help. Our kind and loving Heavenly Father responded immediately by moving totally strange brothers and sisters into action. Some introduced us to new opportunities of work; some helped us apply for health insurance; and some provided food and extended their warm friendship to us when I had to go to the hospital following an accident before the baby came.  They gave me the opportunity to truly experience what love in action is. It is action without lofty words or expressed high aspirations, and it does not seek publicity. It is giving willingly and gladly. Their action stimulated me to thoughts about how can one, with life’s limited resources, make meaningful decisions and take meaningful actions in order to avoid suffering to no purpose.

A mother’s calling

Only after becoming a mother did I come to realize that there is no other role I can play that is more fulfilling, and there is no better situation in which I am compelled to give so completely and willingly. I used to hear people say that our Lord will give each of us a personalized lesson plan. But I never dreamed that the lesson plan He designed for me would include four precious boys and girls, thus leaving me without any excuse not to put myself aside but to concentrate on their welfare and needs as the center of my life. The responsibility of providing love and care to the children was thus unceremoniously placed on my shoulders, and I became busy working and rushing about from morning to night without any time for myself. Because of this I became more dependent on the Lord for strength and blessings. More than ten years of going through the growing pains and joy, there has been more happiness than tears in my life, and my heart has been filled with more gratitude than sighs of complaint. Be it the small surprises I receive from the children, or a word of sincere appreciation and praise from my husband, or the approval from my in-laws and friends, I truly feel my own special worth.

Personality transformation

Nowadays there are many new faces in my circle of contacts through the church, my husband’s work, and children’s school. These people all waited for me to get acquainted with them and extend my hand of friendship.

Having put aside my old passivity and old habit of hiding myself from strangers, I am now able to strike up a real conversation with people with ease as well as to express my sincere concerns about others. Especially in my quiet time, I can now think of other people’s needs. My prayers are no longer just about myself, but also about family members, relatives and friends, and missionaries in far away places. For a person like me who was once extremely selfish, this is indeed a very huge transformation.

His choice, my choice

Not because there is no choice. There is. It is the choice of trusting God and appreciating Him. It is not giving up the pursuit of the true, the good, and the beautiful, but learning how to “give” in order to know the true meaning and beauty of life, because “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Jesus Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Onto the road of happiness

We all want to be fixers. We want to fix our bodies, our minds, and our souls. We want to be a perfect version of ourselves, or possibly a perfect version of someone else altogether. What we don’t realize is that the work is already being done for us. Through His love God has already laid the foundation for a wonderful, satisfied person.

There is nothing more satisfying than knowing God is re-finishing us even as we are attempting to do it alone. And not only that, God can set us free from the guilt and anxiety we have about unfinished self projects because He loves us despite our mistakes and shortcomings.

You can have the peace that you are looking for; even if you feel like you still need some work. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace by a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Saviour and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of woman you want me to be.

If this prayer expresses the desire of your heart, pray it right now and Christ will come into your life as He promised. If you invited Jesus Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.

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