By Sisi, Austria
I am a girl who used to be fastidious about cleanliness. Each time when I went to public places, I was particular about hygiene. If I needed to sit down, I would first clean the desk and chair to set my mind at rest, or else I would feel they were dirty. So I often prepared a lot of tissues in my backpack. Meanwhile, to avoid using public toilets, I would seldom drink water outside. Every day when I got home, the first thing I would do was wash my hands and then change my outer clothes. When it was time to eat, I would first wash the bowls and chopsticks again even if they were clean; once I saw anything dirty, my stomach would turn. Sometimes, even though I worked until late at night, I would still take a shower and only then could I fall into a sound sleep. All of these had been my living habits.
Due to the scale expansion, our company moved to a new place far away from my house. I had to share an apartment of one bedroom and one living room with a colleague. The moment I got in there, I saw the bedroom was carpeted throughout. What I disliked most were carpets, because it is hard to clean them and inside them there always hide germs and dirt. Thinking of these, I told my colleague, “Let’s take the carpet up, OK? Or it will be very hard to do the cleaning.” I had thought she would agree, but she said firmly, “No! I like the floor carpeted.” I was simply very displeased at her words in my heart. But I thought that we’d just lived together and that there would be a long time to get on in future, so in order to maintain our relationship, I agreed reluctantly. My colleague was used to sitting eating snacks on the carpet. Every time after she cleared the crumbs, I would have to do it again and then remind her impatiently: “Please clear it up next time, OK? It’s really dirty to leave the crumbs inside the carpet.” Though she answered, “I’ve got it,” next time the same thing would happen again.
In the following days, what annoyed me most was the sound of her blowing her nose, which was really harsh. Wherever she had stayed, there would be a pile of tissues that had been used to blow her nose. This disgusted me. Every time she blew her nose, she didn’t throw the tissues into the waste basket. I felt that was unsanitary and reminded her. However, she sometimes didn’t accept but said I was a neat freak. Whenever I heard that, I would get more annoyed. Obviously, it was she who didn’t take care of hygiene, yet she blamed me instead. For that reason, I developed more and more prejudice against her, unwilling to talk to her, wearing a long face all day long. In such a situation, I felt very distressed and tormented.
One time when I went back from outside, I saw that on the table there were unwashed bowls and chopsticks and debris of meal. The room was pervaded by the smell of leftovers, an awful smell that disgusted me. So I opened the window in a hurry. When I went to the bathroom to wash my hands, I noticed the yellow stain left in the sink as well as the fallen hair in the shower cubicle. In the bedroom, clothes and cosmetics were laid out in disorder on the bed, and the carpet was covered with crumbs. I simply couldn’t bear what I had seen, thinking: “How unlucky I am to have such a slovenly roommate! How can I live together with such a person?” However, because of my work I had to live here. The mixed feeling of resignation and pain made me so sad.
Once when I practiced my spiritual devotion, I saw that God said, “Suppose God arranges an environment for you. You say, ‘I love cleanliness; I don’t like there to be any odors, I don’t like people who are filthy, and I don’t like looking at disgusting things.’ However, those people living with you snore and talk during sleep, smack their lips when having their meals, and have other bad living habits. What happens to you is exactly what you dislike. In this case, what do you do? Is it right for you to hate people? You lovingly, patiently help these people change their bad habits; is this right? Is this purpose or intention of yours correct? (No.) So what should you do? You must have the correct attitude. What attitude is that? (Submission.) How do you submit? How do you have to think in order to submit? What do you have to do in order to have the reality of submission? (Don’t complain.) You say you will not complain, but at mealtime, when you hear them smack their lips, you say, ‘Can you stop doing that so much? Change your bad habits; every time I hear you smack your lips, it turns my stomach.’ Is this the right way to handle this situation? Though you are being quite direct, and speaking honestly, your words are rather hurtful and not beneficial. Those people even feel that there is something wrong with you if you do not smack your lips, and that you are trying to act prim and proper. When you encounter this sort of situation, both parties should adapt to each other; none of these are actual shortcomings. People live for so many years, and are unhappy with eighty or ninety percent of what they encounter. You frown upon this and disapprove of that, but what do you dislike? Some of these things are actually your own problems, so you should not make a big deal out of them. When people get older, they realize that they are not noble, and that they are no better than others. Do not think that you are superior to other people, or more dignified and distinguished than they are; you must learn to adapt to your environment.”
The words of God exactly revealed my situation. Thinking back, I always took a particular care of hygiene: In public places, I wouldn’t sit down until I wiped the chair. At home, I would get my house spotless; what’s more, I would wash the bowls and chopsticks a few times before eating. At the same time, I also used my own living habits to ask things of my colleague, wanting to change her and get her to live according to my liking. When I felt it hard to clean the carpet, I wanted to roll it up; when my colleague failed to clean it up after eating things, I would complain about her; especially when seeing that she didn’t throw the tissues into the right place after blowing her nose, or put her stuff in order, or do the cleaning, I was even more full of grievance and complaints and gave her dirty looks. All day I was deeply pained by these matters, even wanting to get rid of this environment. Only at this time did I see that all my pain was caused by my arrogance, my demanding too much of others, and my thinking myself much too distinguished. Actually, no one is perfect in every way, and each has his or her own living habits. I should have a proper attitude, and shouldn’t always criticize others for disliking their living habits. My love for cleanliness doesn’t represent that I’m more distinguished and dignified than others. Then what makes me disdain them? Thinking of this, I came before God to pray, “God! I live together with such a colleague, and there is Your good will behind it. Through this situation, I’ve seen that I was too picky and fastidious all the time. Oh God! Please lead me so that I can obey Your sovereignty and arrangements.”
One day when I got home after work, I saw that my colleague brought several of her friends home, including two little kids. Out of politeness, I greeted them, and then came to the living room. I saw that the table was spread with various things; on the carpet in the bedroom, bowls and chopsticks were left unwashed and crumbs of food everywhere. I couldn’t bear it and started to blame my colleague in my heart for bringing so many friends home and getting our house so dirty and having me tidy it up at last … I felt very distressed, so I came toto pray. After prayer I opened the APP on my phone and saw these words of God: “You must see clearly these things that surround you; if you are truly unable to submit, you find them too upsetting, and they are affecting your life, then pray and implore God to act. Allow God to make arrangements; allow God to do His work. We humans should not do it ourselves. If it’s God’s intention to hone us in such an environment, then we should submit, and we should allow ourselves to be honed until a result is achieved; we should allow ourselves to be honed until we are as humans should be and can show this to God and satisfy God. First, though, you must have this resolve to suffer. What do you think of behaving in this way? Do you have aspirations to be such a person? (Yes.) When it comes to submitting to environments, your environments are often not so simple. You do not merely come across people with bad habits; there are even more things, such as issues to do with disposition, issues to do with personality, and issues to do with how things are done. When you do and handle things, or have some thoughts while encountering things, do not rely on your own intentions or your hot blood. and come before Him. This, first of all, is a submissive attitude; it is the first psychological quality you should possess. We implore God to do His work, but if He does not do it or open up a way out, then we just need to keep enduring it and continue living in this environment. We must submit to God’s arrangements and not rush ahead and try to walk in front of God. Only then will our lives have value.” After reading God’s words, I understood: No matter what environment I encounter, God wants me first to pray to Him, let Him take over, learn to experience in such environments until my patience, will, and obedience are achieved, so that I can finally live out the likeness of a human being to satisfy God. Reflecting upon myself, once I encountered this kind of thing I would get angry and expose hot blood. My so doing didn’t honor God and I was not a person who obeyed God. The relationship between my colleague and me would only get worse and worse. If I want to get on well with my colleague, the correct way for me to do is betray my satanic disposition, put myself aside and no longer treat her based on my hot blood, and practice the truth to satisfy God. After understanding these, I hurried to pray to God silently in my heart. Then I calmed down slowly, and didn’t feel constrained anymore.
One night, I was ready to wash my face when I found my towel was wet. Then I realized that my colleague definitely used the wrong towel. The first thing I thought of was to throw it away, and then I would go and question her why she used my towel since it was so unsanitary. But a second thought reminded me that she just used my towel to do nothing else but wash her face, and that I only needed to wash it. Besides, she was of a careless nature, so maybe she just took it by mistake. I couldn’t always nitpick at her because of my own love for cleanliness, but I should practice the truth and learn to put myself aside. At that moment, my colleague came to me and said, a little embarrassed, “You’re back. Today I once again took the wrong towel. I’m sorry that I’m too careless.” Upon hearing her say this, I also felt embarrassed and said quickly, “It doesn’t matter. You didn’t do it intentionally.” Then, my colleague smiled, and so did I. Thank God. When I acted according to God’s words and tried to let go of myself, I saw God’s guidance, I could get on with my colleague, and I got freedom and release.
In the days that followed, when I practiced the truth, I gradually adapt myself to the environment. In daily life, I learned how to get on with my colleague bit by bit and no longer fixed my gaze on her. Sometimes when we got free time, we would have a heart-to-heart talk. During our talk, I knew that the harsh sound she made when blowing her nose, which had used to annoy me, arose from her rhinitis since her childhood. After knowing the reason, I felt very guilty. I was utterly ignorant of her trouble before I started to dislike her. I really had no love, understanding or forgiveness for her. But at the same time, I offered my thanks to God: If it had not been for this environment, I would have never known my arrogant disposition.
The fantastic thing was that, since I changed myself, my colleague also had some change. Once, after I got home from work, I found that the carpet had already been rolled up by her, that the room was very well cleaned, and that her clothes and cosmetics were all in order. So I asked her, “Why did you take the carpet up?” She answered, “We don’t have a vacuum cleaner, and I feel it’s not easy to clean it, so it may be better to roll it up.” All of these made me truly experience God’s miraculous deeds, and I couldn’t help giving thanks to God. I also saw that during that period, all people, matters and objects that God had arranged for me were to cleanse and change me so that I could shake off my corrupt disposition. When I obeyed God and practiced the truth, the surroundings also changed. Thanks be to God! God is really so almighty and wise!