Parenting & Education

I Let Go of My Concern for My Children by Understanding God’s Sovereignty

By Li Ming, China

Working outside for several years, my son and daughter-in-law saved bit by bit more than one hundred thousand yuan. I then planned in my heart: I’ll take care of my grandson at home. They two will find some other work and earn a few thousand yuan per month, living a stable life in the future.

One day, my son told me they would not work outside this year but wanted to manage a photo studio. After hearing what he said, I thought: It’s not easy to accumulate that amount of money. If you lose money in business, your efforts will be in vain. The best thing to do is to work for others steadily. Therefore, I attempted to persuade my son: “It’s hard to do business now. You’ll have a hundred thousand other things to worry about apart from investing a lot of money. What happens if you suffer a loss? You may probably go bankrupt. So, I’d say it’s better to work for others. You’ll get paid a salary every month without having to worry that much.” My daughter-in-law said, “Working for others means being controlled by a boss every day. Besides, we can’t work for others for a lifetime.” Seeing their firm resolution, I had to employ a delaying tactic first, saying, “For the time being, you’d better get to know the market conditions first by working for others, and then it’s not late for you to do business by yourselves.” Hearing this, my daughter-in-law said, “All right. Tomorrow I’m going to apply for a position in a photo studio.” My son also agreed to find a temporary job. I felt pretty delighted to hear that, and thought: After you are employed, you’re unlikely to think of starting a business. Thus, we’ll have a stable life.

Two days later, unexpectedly my son asked his father to buy floor bricks for decorating a house. After hearing this, I blamed him, “Haven’t you come to an agreement with me? You work for others first, don’t you? Why did you open the studio now?” My son and his wife said, “It’s free to work for ourselves.” They insisted on opening their own studio and they had rented a house, so I could say nothing but asked hastily, “Where did you rent the house? Are there any other neighboring photo studios?” My son answered, “Yes. The house I rented is on the fifteenth floor of a building above the XX Photo Studio.” Fifteenth floor! I simply didn’t dare to believe my ears! “Fifteenth floor! Is that proper? There is a photo studio on the first floor, and another on the third floor. Both of them have been operating for over a decade. Now you have just started the business, and your shop is on a higher floor. Who will go upstairs to take photos?” I rebuked. However, my daughter-in-law said confidently, “Mum, don’t worry. Despite the high-floor location, the rent is much lower. If the two studios downstairs have too many customers to handle, some may go upstairs to ours. And we’ll make a solid return on our investment as long as we receive two orders every day.” Hearing her words, I became angrier and said, “You have no brains. Don’t you know that they have taken orders from these customers in advance?” Whatever I said, they two just didn’t give in. Seeing them insisting on opening a studio, I had to sulk: Ah, our family will surely be ruined in your hands. Do you think you can manage a studio with your intellect? You are really too naive. Are you cut out to be a boss? The more I thought, the angrier I became. Afterward, I took no notice of them.

Seeing they two were awfully busy, not only decorating the house, but purchasing the photographic equipment, I had no jot of happiness anywhere. Especially when I knew they had used up all of their money and borrowed thirty or forty thousand yuan from relatives, I felt as if my life had instantly fallen into the bottom of the valley, being in extreme pain. During that period of time, I was depressed the whole day, feeling that they were incapable of managing life and money. Won’t the over 100,000 renminbi (roughly $20,000) spent on the shop be melted away if the business is bad? And if that really happened, how would we lead a life in the future? Whenever thinking of this, I felt as though the sky fell, being annoyed and impatient in my heart. I would lose my temper and nag at home whenever there was something that didn’t satisfy me, so my family always avoided me. Soon, the photo studio was done up. One day, my son asked me to help do some sweeping. As soon as I entered the lift, I heard someone ridiculing my son, saying, “He must have lost his mind running a photo studio on the 15th floor!” At this word, I was exploding. I began to complain in my heart: Not only do I think it won’t work to do business on a high floor, even other people think so. You have absolutely no brain for business. Will you not be reconciled unless you ruin this family?! … When cleaning the studio, I didn’t even say a word to my son and daughter-in-law. And they dared not start a talk with me as they saw me unhappy. I got even angrier, and then left in a rage before the cleaning was finished. I knew clearly my behaviors would hurt my family, but I couldn’t resist doing that. Each time I got angry, I would feel pain too. Thereupon, I called out to God, begging Him to guide me out of the distress.

One day, I read a passage of God’s words, “When one leaves one’s parents and becomes independent, the social conditions one faces, and the kind of work and career available to one are both decreed by fate and have nothing to do with one’s parents. Some people choose a good major in college and end up finding a satisfactory job after graduation, making a triumphant first stride in the journey of their lives. Some people learn and master many different skills and yet never find a job that suits them or never find their position, much less have a career; at the outset of their life journey, they find themselves thwarted at every turn, beset by troubles, their prospects dismal and their lives uncertain. Some people apply themselves diligently to their studies, yet narrowly miss every chance to receive a higher education; they seem fated never to achieve success, their very first aspiration in the journey of their lives having dissolved into thin air. Not knowing whether the road ahead is smooth or rocky, they feel for the first time how full of variables human destiny is, and so regard life with expectation and dread. Some people, despite not being very well educated, write books and achieve a measure of fame; some, though almost totally illiterate, make money in business and are thereby able to support themselves…. What occupation one chooses, how one makes a living: do people have any control over whether they make a good choice or a bad choice in these things? Do these things accord with people’s desires and decisions? Most people have the following wishes: to work less and earn more, not to toil in the sun and rain, to dress well, to glow and shine everywhere, to tower above others, and to bring honor to their ancestors. People hope for perfection, but when they take their first steps in the journey of their lives, they gradually come to realize how imperfect human destiny is, and for the first time they truly grasp the fact that, though one can make bold plans for one’s future and though one may harbor audacious fantasies, no one has the ability or the power to realize their own dreams, and no one is in a position to control their own future. There will always be some distance between one’s dreams and the realities that one must confront; things are never as one would like them to be, and faced with such realities, people can never achieve satisfaction or contentment. Some people will go to any length imaginable, will put forth great efforts and make great sacrifices for the sake of their livelihoods and future, in an attempt to change their own fate. But in the end, even if they can realize their dreams and desires by means of their own hard work, they can never change their fates, and no matter how doggedly they try, they can never exceed what destiny has allotted them. Regardless of differences in ability, intelligence, and willpower, people are all equal before fate, which does not distinguish between the great and the small, the high and the low, the exalted and the mean. What occupation one pursues, what one does for a living, and how much wealth one amasses in life are not decided by one’s parents, one’s talents, one’s efforts or one’s ambitions, but are predetermined by the Creator” (“God Himself, the Unique III”). This passage deeply moved my heart. From it, I understood: What work my son and daughter-in-law do during their lifetime, success or failure, and what the amount of the wealth they amass are not in the control of themselves or me, but are in the hands of God. No matter how I worry about them, I have no faculty to change their fates. Thinking carefully, many people want to change their fates by their efforts, and to aspire to stand out among others to carry on the family name and honor their ancestors. However, ultimately they walk an uneven road all their life, decadent and frustrated. Many other people only work regularly, but beyond expectation, they succeed afterward. These facts prove that we humans have no ability to control our own fates. Without the knowledge of God’s sovereignty, I always wanted to impose my views on my son and daughter-in-law, so that they would be subject to me, but they wouldn’t. In order to run a photo studio, they were willing to suffer a lot, even be in debt. Now I understood: Such thought they possessed was in the charge of God. What occupation they choose and what they primarily depend on to live cannot escape God’s manipulation and arrangement. Now that my son is ready to attempt and experience, irrespective of success or failure, he shall undergo it in his life. After understanding God’s will, I felt more relaxed and relieved.

After supper one evening, I paid a visit to a sister. When chatting, I shared my recent experience and knowledge. She read another passage to me, Because people do not recognize God’s orchestrations and God’s sovereignty, they always face fate defiantly and with a rebellious attitude, and they always want to cast off God’s authority and sovereignty and the things fate has in store, hoping in vain to change their current circumstances and alter their fate. But they can never succeed and are thwarted at every turn. This struggle, which takes place deep in one’s soul, brings profound pain of the sort that carves itself into one’s bones, as one fritters away their life all the while. What is the cause of this pain? Is it because of God’s sovereignty, or because a person was born unlucky? Obviously, neither is true. At bottom, it is caused by the paths people take, the ways they choose to live their lives. … There is an exceedingly simple way to free oneself from this state, which is to bid farewell to one’s former way of living; to say goodbye to one’s previous goals in life; to summarize and analyze one’s previous lifestyle, view of life, pursuits, desires, and ideals; and then to compare them with God’s will and demands for man, and see whether any of them is consistent with God’s will and demands, whether any of them delivers the right values of life, leads one to a greater understanding of the truth, and allows one to live with humanity and the likeness of a human being. When you repeatedly investigate and carefully dissect the various goals that people pursue in life and their myriad ways of living, you will find not one of them conforms to the Creator’s original intention with which He created humanity. All of them draw people away from the Creator’s sovereignty and care; they are all traps which cause people to become depraved, and which lead them to hell. After you recognize this, your task is to lay aside your old view of life, stay far from various traps, let God take charge of your life and make arrangements for you; it is to try only to submit to God’s orchestrations and guidance, to live without individual choice, and to become a person who worships God (“God Himself, the Unique III”). Having read this passage, she said, “Just like you, I didn’t recognize God’s sovereignty in the past. When I saw what my children said and did were different from mine, I would like to take charge of them, making them subject to my plan. The more I did in this way, the less obedient they were, to the extent that they didn’t consult with me about anything. I was in great pain at that time. Afterward, I recognized from God’s words that I wanted to control my children lies in my arrogant and conceited nature of Satan. I was unwilling to yield to God’s arrangement for my fate, being busy and tired and on the run in my life, in order that I myself could change my fate. Now we have no effort, but we still want our children to work and live pursuant to our thought. Externally, we are thoughtful of our children. In truth, we want to realize our own dream and complete our own plan through commanding the fates of our children with our hands. When all the things don’t develop in the direction of our plan, we always think there are many unsatisfying things in our life, living in constant pain. After realizing the cause of my pain, I prayed to God: I am unwilling to let go of my opinion. With regard to the work and life of my families, I would accept their own choices. When I learned to obey God, the pain in my heart lessened, my children were no longer constrained by me, and our relationship thawed. Sometimes, even if something unsatisfying happened to me, I could obey through praying to God and reading His words.”

After reading this passage and listening to her fellowship, I found the root of my bitterness. Because I had the arrogant and conceited nature of Satan, vainly hoping to control my fate by myself, fearing that my son would lose money in business and the life of our families could then not be assured, I made my son and daughter-in-law live according to my viewpoint, and let them find stable jobs, so that we could live an ordinary life. In reality, I wanted to rule over all things and not to be obedient to the arrangements God made for us, inflicting not only tiredness on me but suffering on my families. Having found the fundamental reason for my pain and the cause of being unable to be on friendly terms with my children, I was willing to repent before God, betray my satanic nature of arrogance and conceitedness, and put the previous viewpoint on existence aside, letting go of my children from my heart, giving true freedom back to them, and obeying God’s orchestration and plans.

Subsequently, when seeing my son and daughter-in-law bustling and working very hard, with weariness on their faces, I had more consideration for and understanding of them. In addition to looking after them in daily life, I also calmly reminded them to heed their health. At table, I would inquire something about the studio with concern. My daughter-in-law said their business was brisk and they sometimes had no time to have meals. After hearing her words, I suddenly became dumbfounded and felt it was unexpected. In our small county, my son could have such a brisk business with the photo studio on the fifteenth floor. This was indeed God’s deed! And this completely exceeded my outdated thinking—a front house is a prerequisite for the success of a business. Later on, their business was more and more brisk. Once I had time, I would send lunch to them. They were very pleased when they saw I no longer complained to them about this matter but instead showed concern for them. Sometimes after work, my daughter-in-law even helped me to prepare dinner or do the laundry, and at table, they talked with me about things that had happened in the photo studio. Our harmonious life was restored.

After my experience, I truly tasted that our life will become happy and joyful on condition that we accept God’s sovereignty and arrangements.