By Shunfu, United States
I am a post-80s girl. When I was little, my neighbors all praised me for being obedient and sensible, saying I would be able to please my parents-in-law after I grew up and got married. I, too, always thought that good-tempered and easygoing, certainly I would not have any problems getting along with my mother-in-law. It was not until later, when I got married and lived together with my mother-in-law, that I deeply understood why others said that how to deal with the relationship between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law was a big problem.
My mother was a diligent woman, so she seldom asked me to help her cook as I was growing up. Many times when my mother was cooking, I just stood on one side watching but never cooked myself, resulting in my being a poor cook. After my marriage, having my own family, I had to do the cooking myself. In order not to be looked down upon by my mother-in-law, I tried hard to learn to cook. Now it was convenient to go on the internet, where there were various recipes. I thereupon downloaded a cookery book from the internet and tried to make dishes to the recipes in it. However, because I did not have any experience of cooking, if the dishes I made were not too salty, then they were too light. Even sometimes when I fried things, they ended up burnt. When my mother-in-law saw that, she would nag at me endlessly, which made me feel uncomfortable. I thought: Since they are burnt, we can just throw them out. Do you always have to nag at me? You have been making food in the kitchen for decades, but I have cooked just for a few days. How can I compare with you? Every time when I thought of this, I would be in a sulk, for I felt that my mother-in-law only allowed herself to do something wrong. Usually when she cooked at home, she would always make so many dishes that when we failed to eat them up in the hot summer, we had to throw the left-overs away. Once, I was preparing to carry out the rubbish. When I saw the waste food was full of maggots, I was disgusted and was also really angry with my mother-in-law. These trivial matters caused me to dislike her more and more. And I did not want to see her and always hid from her at home.
One day, I followed the recipe from the internet and learned to make steamed bread with brown sugar. At first, I mixed the flour and yeast powder in a certain proportion, yet not following the recipe by letters. And then I patiently waited for a long time in accordance with the dough time that the recipe said. After the dough had risen I began to make steamed buns. However, when I took them out of the steamer, I found that they were not that light and palatable, but instead a bit hard. When my mother-in-law saw this, she again started to go on at me, “Look at the buns you steamed. Are they eatable? If you actually can’t make them, call your cousin-in-law next time and learn from her. She can cook delicious food, so you see, her husband is white and fat. Her parents-in-law all praised her for making good meals after they came back from Australia this time. Now her mother-in-law needn’t even cook. Oh! Your cousin-in-law cooks better and better, and she can also make many kinds of snacks. …” Hearing what she said, though I said nothing, I reasoned with her in my heart: It’s true that I failed to make steamed buns right, but I do not ask you to eat them. If you’re not eating, I will eat them by myself. Thus, I packed these steamed buns and then put them in the refrigerator. Two days later, I opened the refrigerator and rummaged around in it, but did not find them. I thought to myself: Strange! The steamed buns do not grow legs, how could they disappear? They must have been thrown out by my mother-in-law. Later my thought proved right. When I knew the truth, I was so angry as to intend to have a huge fight with her. But thinking that I had believed in God, I realized that I could no longer completely live based on my own corrupt disposition like I did before when I believed in the Lord, for now God requires us to experience and live by His words. So I told myself that I could not go quarreling with my mother-in-law; nevertheless, in my heart I was still full of complaints about her, not wanting to talk to or see her. Also I was in depression because of this matter.
Then the meeting time came. At the gathering, when the brothers and sisters saw that I was in a poor condition, they asked me with concern what had happened to me recently that I looked like something’s on my mind. At that time, I poured out all my grievances to them, as if having found my bosom friends. As I said, many things that my mother-in-law did not do well popped into my mind. For example, She was always the last to have dinner. And after she finished eating, she would leave her bowl on the table and then directly go away. She never cleared the table after her meal even if it was very messy. And it was always I who had to clear it when I went to the kitchen the next morning. Various trifling matters like this caused me to be full of complaints about my mother-in-law. After the brothers and sisters finished hearing my words, they read to me a passage of Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life: “If you want to have patience toward others, you first need to understand them, meaning no matter who says something that hurts you, you should know how to think and how to deal with it. You should first understand this: His words have hurt me. What he said seemed to be exposing my shortcomings and appeared to be directed at me. If his words are directed at me, what does he mean by them? Is he trying to do me harm? Does he see me as his enemy? Does he hate me? Is he exacting revenge against me? I did not offend him, so the answer to these questions cannot be yes. … When they said these words they were simply expressing what a normal person thinks, rather than directing them at any particular person. … they were certainly not consciously targeting any specific individual. First you offer understanding, then your anger can dissipate, and then you can achieve patience.” And they also read a passage of God’s words: “People do not require much of themselves, but they require much of others. They must be patient and forbearing of them, cherish them, provide for them, smile at them, be accommodating to them, and yield to them. They must take care of them in many ways, and they cannot be strict with them, provoke them, or do anything that they would not like. Man’s reason is so lacking!” (“People Who Always Have Requirements for God Are the Least Reasonable”). After hearing the fellowship and God’s words, I came to realize that I had not the slightest patience or tolerance for my mother-in-law. When she stood on one side nagging at me for my not cooking well, I would be unhappy. I always thought she was looking down on me, because I had cooked with my heart, yet not only did she not praise me but she actually split hairs to find faults and nagged at me. I was unwilling to listen to her. I reasoned with her in my heart, and fixed my gaze on her, thinking that since she also had faults, how can she always keep on at me and embarrass me. Thinking back, every time my mother-in-law nagged at me, it was actually because I did not cook well, but I refused to accept what she said, doesn’t this show that I was too arrogant and unreasonable? Now I am a mother as well. When I educate my child, no matter how strict my words are, actually I am hoping he can be good. Likewise, as an elder, my mother-in-law criticized me, but she meant well, hoping that my cooking could be improved. Thank God for allowing me to realize my own problem. Then I came before God to pray: “O God! My stature is too small. Please care for and protect me so that I will not live under Satan’s corruption and can learn to get along with my mother-in-law in harmony.” After the prayer, I felt much relaxed, thinking: Thank God! Without the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, I would never have known I’m actually living in the corrupt disposition of Satan. Only after reading God’s words did I get some knowledge about myself. I am really too much in need of. From then on, I was willing to leave my bias against my mother-in-law behind.
Unknowingly, the months passed. In interacting with my mother-in-law, sometimes I was unable to help myself from revealing my corruption disposition. Once, I again was dissatisfied with her, but then I thought of the following passage from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life: “When doing things, we should take account not only of our own interests, but also of others’. Besides, we should learn to be more considerate to others, to benefit them…. Do not ask too much of others, and do not expect to gain any benefits from others….” (“Principles of Practice That We Should Have in Establishing Normal Interpersonal Relationships”). Then I immediately prayed to God, and asked God to help me have no unreasonable requirements for my mother-in-law and to enable me to have tolerance, patience, consideration, and respect for her. In this way, I prayed for a period of time, and gradually I found when I got along with my mother-in-law, I was more or less able to practice according to God’s requirements and no longer lived in depression.
One night, I returned home from work at 11:00 p.m., exhausted. Then as soon as I finished washing, I went to bed. The next morning, I got up and went to the kitchen to drink water. When I got there and saw the bowls and pans which were left unwashed, I knew it was again my mother-in-law who was the last to eat and did not wash them up. Had it happened in the past, I would have been very angry with her. But this time unexpectedly I calmly cleared up the kitchen, feeling quite grounded and peaceful in my heart. I really thank God. It was God who allowed me to see from His words the following things: For the sake of saving us, God has come to earth to work. He never stands in the position of God to interact with man, but always sympathizes with our weakness and is patient toward us. I am just a tiny creature, so what qualifications do I have to demand others to live according to my preferences? God is so lofty and great, yet in His work He reveals His humility and hiddenness everywhere. I am just a corrupt person, if I always have unreasonable demands for others, then am I not too arrogant? It was God’s words that changed my attitude toward my mother-in-law. Thank God for saving me!
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