“Alas, Qiqi, hurry up! You’ll be late for school!”
“Mingming, get up now and wash your face.”
Xinyue was urging the children over and over again.
“Dai Yuanyuan, are you still in bed now? Rise to wash up! Qiqi, little ancestor, stop playing! If you don’t get up now, you’ll miss the school bus. Grandma doesn’t want to take you to school in such a cold day. Be good and get up to take breakfast.” Xinyue’s mother-in-law shouted, too.
For Xinyue and her mother-in-law, morning was the busiest time of their day. They had to make the breakfast and wake the sleepyheads up to take breakfast and to go to school. These scenes repeated every day.
Soon, everybody got up and the room suddenly became crowded. One wanted to brush his teeth; the second one wanted to use the toilet; the third one was searching for her shoes; the forth one was searching for her clothes; … Finally, they were all set to take breakfast, but they were complaining instead of eating quietly.
“Oh, no! It’s mantou (steamed bun) again. I want youtiao (deep-fried dough stick) and soybean milk!” Dai Yuanyuan, Xinyue’s sister-in-law, said unpleasantly while packing her clothes.
“But I’m too busy to buy youtiao and soybean milk in the morning.” Xinyue replied unhappily.
“Yeah! If you want youtiao and soybean milk, get up early tomorrow morning to buy them yourself. Don’t be so sleepy and fussy.” Said Dai Mengmeng, Dai Yuanyuan’s elder sister.
“I can’t sleep well at night because I have to take care of the two children. Yet you still want me to get up early. I can’t. Don’t blame me. I’m not that serious about the breakfast.” Said Dai Yuanyuan in an injured voice.
“Auntie, my mom is a big sleepyhead!” Qiqi grinned at Xinyue while eating and made a face at Dai Yuanyuan.
Hearing her daughter’s words, Dai Yuanyuan pretended to be angry, much to the amusement of others.
After a while, everybody was done with breakfast and went to their own things, leaving Xinyue and her mother-in-law at the table.
“Xinyue, let me clean the table. You have been helping me with the breakfast since early in the morning. Just go back to your room and take a rest. Yuanyuan is just like a childish girl. Don’t lower yourself to her level.” The mother-in-law said to Xinyue apologetically.
“Mom, you’ve thought too much. I’m OK. We are a family, so it should be better to have tolerance and patience.” Xinyue said with a smile. In fact, she said that to her mother-in-law as well as herself, and it was also what she hoped.
“Xinyue, you are so nice. As the youngest in the family, you’ve done so much and always bear with Yuanyuan. She is just so careless and heartless, sometimes naïve. And I can do nothing about her. You know, your father-in-law has passed away. I don’t have any extravagant wish. As long as you get along well with each other, I’ll be satisfied.” The mother-in-law said with her eyes turning red.
Xinyue comforted her mother-in-law, but no one knew the bitterness in her heart.
Dai Mengmeng, Xinyue’s eldest sister-in-law, who had lived here since she got divorced two years ago, was relatively easy-going; Dai Yuanyuan, Xinyue’s second elder sister-in-law, who lived here almost every day, was heartless and outspoken, much different from Xinyue who was quiet. Dai Yuanyuan’s laziness often annoyed Xinyue, but Xinyue never showed her anger. Xinyue once blamed Dai Yuanyuan for her being lazy, but Dai Yuanyuan didn’t agree and retorted, “I’m doing much better than before.” Then Dai Yuanyuan continued banteringly, “You made me angry just now. You are just my brother’s wife. It’s OK for my brother to blame me, but not you. Watch your words, for they will offend us.” Though Dai Yuanyuan said unintentionally, Xinyue took her words into heart. She thought: Now I see! You are a family, and I am just an outsider to you. OK, fine! I’ll say nothing. I treated you with all of my heart, but you just regard me as an outsider in return. From now on, I will treat you the way you treat me. I won’t blame you for anything, so I won’t offend you.
One day, Qiqi and Mingming broke a piece of Xinyue’s furniture while they were playing on it. Dai Yuanyuan came to Xinyue and said, “Xinyue, that piece of your furniture is a real lemon. Qiqi and Mingming just jumped on it a few times, and it’s broken. What you say?” Xinyue didn’t want to quarrel with her. She held back her anger and simply said, “It doesn’t matter. Just forget it.” But when she saw that piece of brand-new furniture badly broken, she really felt bad. Thinking of Dai Yuanyuan’s unreasonable attitude, she really wanted to argue with her: Obviously, you’re spoiling your children and indulging their every whim. They broke that piece of my furniture but didn’t apologize to me. What’s more, you complained that it was a lemon. You are so unreasonable! The children have broken so many things over the past year since I married your brother, haven’t they? Xinyue was grieved and annoyed. Being pushed to her limit by these trifles, she had intended to argue with them for several times. But she didn’t, for fear of being alienated from the family and being laughed at by others, a result which would be caused once the family conflict broke out. And she thought it would be unbearable. She was struggling ambivalently: She couldn’t bear them anymore, but was afraid to see the consequences of the conflict. She was in a dilemma and had no idea of what to do. Mentally and physically exhausted, Xinyue often shed tears quietly.
When Xinyue was helpless and miserable, she remembered her mom once told her that people could find answers to all difficulties in God’s word. Thinking of this, Xinyue seemed to find hope. She quickly took the book of God’s word out of her wardrobe, opened it and saw God’s words say: “Cruel, brutal mankind! The conniving and intrigue, the jostling with each other, the scramble for reputation and fortune, the mutual slaughter—when will it ever end? God has spoken hundreds of thousands of words, yet no one has come to their senses. They act for the sake of their families, and sons and daughters, for their careers, prospects, status, vanity, and money, for the sake of clothes, for food and the flesh…. How many do not act for the sake of their own interests? How many do not oppress and discriminate against others for the sake of maintaining their own status?” “Born into such a filthy land, man has been severely blighted by society, he has been influenced by feudal ethics, and he has been taught at ‘institutes of higher learning.’ The backward thinking, corrupt morality, mean view on life, despicable philosophy, utterly worthless existence, and depraved lifestyle and customs—all of these things have severely intruded upon man’s heart, and severely undermined and attacked his conscience. As a result, man is ever more distant from God, and ever more opposed to Him. Man’s disposition becomes more vicious by the day”.
Pondering over God’s words, Xinyue understood that all human beings no longer have the likeness of real humans after being corrupted by Satan. Plus, having been blighted and influenced by society, people are all living by Satan’s various poisons and rules so that man’s disposition is selfish and arrogant. Xinyue felt deeply about it especially when she saw God say, “How many do not act for the sake of their own interests? How many do not oppress and discriminate against others for the sake of maintaining their own status?” From these words, she knew the reason why she had lived in such pain. It was because she lived in the condition of scheming against her family. Her being angry each time was actually because they touched her vanity and pride. For example, when she heard Dai Yuanyuan’s words this time, she thought that Dai Yuanyuan didn’t take her hard work for the family seriously but treated her like an outsider. So she was in great pain and didn’t want to talk to Dai Yuanyuan anymore. She stood her sisters-in-law living with her all the year round because she wanted her family and others to praise her and say that she was good and generous. In order to get such good reputation, she lived by Satan’s philosophies “Compromise will make a conflict much easier to resolve” and “Endurance brings peace” in interacting with her family. She believed as long as she was more patient and tolerant and turned a blind eye when matters arose, she could live in harmony with her family, and they would think she was good natured, thus liking her and showing respect to her. However, Dai Yuanyuan didn’t praise her, but scolded her, making her feel terribly wronged. Thinking of these, Xinyue realized that what she did was for the sake of her vanity and reputation and that she was selfish.
Xinyue also remembered that she used to tell what happened between her and her two sisters-in-law to her husband in private and asked him to talk to them for her. She believed doing like this not only saved her face but achieved her purposes. Besides, when she saw Dai Yuanyuan spoiling her children, she knew that Dai Yuanyuan was harming them instead of loving them, but she followed the philosophies, “The less trouble, the better,” “Though you see wrong, it’s best to say little,” “Think before you speak and then talk with reservation,” and “Let things drift if they do not affect one personally.” She thought they were not her children. What they would be like in the future had nothing to do with her. If she talked much, she would offend Dai Yuanyuan who would then think that she disliked the children. It was no good to do such a thankless thing. The more Xinyue recalled, the more narrow-minded and mean she felt she was. She saw that she definitely had no likeness of a human being. Through the revelations of God’s words, Xinyue felt reproached in her conscience. She was no longer willing to live by Satan’s poisons and rules, but was willing to abandon those wrong and harmful philosophies.