Posts tagged belief

My Life Story (4): Is it a “bomb” or “blessing”?

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I have undergone so many trials. Whenever something happened to me, it reminded
me of Job in the Bible. Job was a righteous, devout, faithful man. God allowed Satan
to afflict Job to test his faithfulness. As a result, many tragedies were visited upon
Job. In the end, however, God blessed Job with twice as much as he had had before
his trials began. One thing that sticks in my mind was that even though God put Job
in the hands of Satan, He stipulated one condition: that Satan must spare Job’s life.

Yes, Job’s life had to be spared. Then, after his trials were over, he could bear
witness for God and receive His double blessing. It was wonderful that it never
occurred to me to kill myself even when these trials came upon me, one after
another, nonstop. I knew clearly, as a mother, that I had no choice but to live. Yes,
sometimes it might have felt like a bomb exploding in my heart, breaking my heart
into pieces, but I had to live. So I went on with my life. Remaining alive, I was able to
experience results I had not anticipated and thus learn whether it had really been a
“bomb” or, rather, a “blessing” in disguise.

Let me tell you why I use the shocking word “bomb.” After my husband passed
away, I went to his office to clean out his things. I found a box in his bottom drawer.
It contained a ring and a picture of a girl. I was stunned by my discovery.

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Sitting there, I felt as though the earth had stopped turning. I felt numb. How I wished I were non-existent! How I wished I had not been born! “I wish… Oh, my goodness, I wish …” I did not know what to wish. My whole being was frozen. My thoughts were frozen. “Oh God, please help me….”

What I soon realized I wished for was that my late husband could come back to life, if only for five minutes, so I could ask him what was going on. Of course, it was impossible for him to come back, and then suddenly, awakening from my paralysis, I had an idea –the best way to get to the bottom of the mystery would be to ask my husband’s best friend for details.

I went all the way to Canada to see him, only to receive this reply: The girl was their high school classmate. He added that whoever came to the United States first would suffer. He implied that I came to the States first and married his friend, so I suffered. What a cruel thing to say! He was unkind, and he did not want to give me any details. No matter how desperately I wanted the truth, I could not get it. He had no empathy; my hope to get to the bottom of the issue vanished.

Returning to Boston, I knew I had no one but myself to rely on. I thought through the whole incident. Apparently, my husband had intended to propose to that girl, but I got here before her, so he married me instead. He never gave me any sign of having another girlfriend. He apparently knew I would have left him if I ever found out.

Why did it happen? After analyzing our interaction, I calmed down, and I could not blame him for what he had done. A month before he departed for the U.S. to begin graduate studies, we had been quarreling all the time. It was because my parents did not approve of our relationship. I felt pressure from my parents and passed it on to him. Maybe he could not take it anymore and tried to find a way out by finding a new girlfriend.

The past is past, and I told myself that I had to let go of this agony. I needed to deal with it so my children and I could get on with our lives. One Sunday I locked myself in my room and for the last time read his diary, which detailed our activities when we were together at the university. I read and read … I cried and cried. And then I burned it. I said good-bye to my husband, good-bye to my past. And I felt relieved.
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But still this bomb had exploded and broken my heart in pieces. If I had not had this marriage, I might have spared myself all these hardships. I felt sad and tried to escape my torments. At this time, we were looking to buy a house. I started to notice a change in my daughter following her father’s death. She told me I did not need a house with a family room. I asked her why. She told me it was because we were not a family. I suddenly realized that her schoolmates were teasing her because she did not have a father. I needed to come up with a solution.

At about this time, some friends from New York came to Boston and wanted to get together with me at a Taiwanese Association meeting. I had not been going to any social activities since my husband’s death. But to see my friends, I ended up joining their dinner party. There I met a man, Ming, who later became my husband. He was two years older than me. We had met earlier at the university in Taiwan. He then got his Ph.D. in Canada and was doing a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University at the time we met again in Boston. He was kind, considerate and had a big heart. He loved me very much and accepted my children as his own. I thank him for giving my children a loving, trusting and reliable father.

So is it a bomb? Or is it a blessing in disguise? I am grateful that I did not surrender to all my trials and give up my life. I gave myself a chance to see whether it was a bomb or a blessing. Just like Job, who lived to receive a double blessing from God. I thank my late husband who gave me a present – a box with a ring and a girl’s picture. He helped me to get out of my own box and let go of him so I could have a life of my own for my children and myself.

Getting Away From Habitual Thought -Alice Lin (1)

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Some may say that to tear oneself away from habitual thought is easier said than
done. However, I think if we can identify the origins of habitual thought, it will help
us overcome the difficulty. It is belief that governs habitual thought, and belief
comes from our environment, society, schooling, and our parents’ teaching and
example. Let me give some examples so we can understand it better.

I remember a couple years ago, I helped interpret for a group of Chinese who came
to the United States to interview several inspirational speakers. As we spoke with
one of the speakers, he mentioned that habitual thought does not necessarily
represent the truth. I remembered that, but I did not quite grasp his meaning at the
time. I think this is because we always regard habitual thought as something that is
definite and unchangeable, we somehow subconsciously assume it is true and do
not think there is any need for change.

One day, after this interview, I saw an Epiphyllum oxypetalum in bloom before I left
home. The Japanese call this flower “Beauty Under the Moon,” and it is known
as “Night Queen” here in the States because it blooms at midnight and has a
powerful fragrance. In my garden this flower always blooms between midnight and
4 a.m. But there it was right in front of my eyes at 10 a.m., still blooming in broad
daylight. I had never seen that before. As I was taught, Epiphyllum oxypetalum only
blooms in the middle of the night for a short time. Moreover, for several years that
had also been my experience with this plant in my own garden. I had even written
an article about it. (Reference) So the fact that it remained in bloom during daylight
hours surprised me and made me understand that in fact, “habitual thought is not
necessarily the truth.” Well, if it is not always the truth, then we should be able to
break out of habitual thought when circumstances call for it.
Epiphyllum oxypetalum bloomed at midnight and closed during daytime.
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Epiphyllum oxypetalum bloomed at daytime.
IMG_0609 flower

And in fact, I have done exactly that. Here is what happened. Recently my iPhone
suddenly went dead. However, I need to have it on all the time so I can always be
available for my patient welfare marketing services. As it happened, at the time my
phone went dead, a plumber was on his way to a rental property I own to fix a leak,
and he needed my instructions. When I told my son I had to rush to the Apple Store
to get the phone fixed, he said I would probably have to wait two or three hours to
be served since I didn’t have an appointment. Since I had no choice, I dashed off to
the Apple Store, 25 minutes from home. As I stepped out of the car, I realized I was
wearing only one shoe, a slip-on. I looked everywhere around my seat but couldn’t
find the other one. I had left in such a hurry that I must have lost it in the driveway.

My thoughts quickly turned to what I needed to do – wear one shoe and look and
walk funny, or hold my remaining shoe on my hand to show that I’m just missing the
other one? Instead, I decided to go barefoot. How could I do that? I knew I had to
break out of habitual thought. I started giving myself a pep talk, repeatedly telling
myself, “Who says I need to wear shoes? I don’t need to wear shoes in public.” I had
to keep saying this to myself because I would be walking on a very busy street in
Pasadena, California. I was wearing a formal suit, and normally I would need to have
my shoes on. After reassuring myself with this pep talk, I screwed up the courage to
walk to the Apple Store. Pretending that nothing was amiss, I felt very brave as I
charged right in. I was promptly taken to the supervisor who fixed it for me in five
minutes. When I walked back out of the store, I realized nobody was paying
attention to me.

When I later told my son what happened, he said, “Oh, my goodness, Mom, how
could you not wear shoes to the Apple store?” We take it for granted that wearing
shoes with a dress is the right thing to do. But in these circumstances, I had no
choice, so I had to get out of my usual way of thinking. I had to get out of my habitual
box. Sometime things are not universally applicable … are not necessarily the truth.
We are accustomed to them, they become our habits, and we let habitual thought
guide and govern us. Unknowingly, we let them trap us and take away our freedom –
freedom to think differently, to act differently, and most important, to be different.
Our minds are chained to a certain way of thinking and we do not realize that we are
nonetheless free to observe and create our choices and be ourselves. Everyone is
different and unique and beautiful in his or her own way.

Apple Store in Pasadena, California
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Reference:
Lesson From The Epiphyllum Oxypetalum
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