By Zhang Qing
“‘Till death do us part’ loses out over ‘It’s not you, it’s me’” and “There’s no such thing as an eternal vow, just an eternal stream of lies” are a couple of popular sayings that succinctly describe the fragility and fickleness of love. In real life there are so many married couples and sweethearts that go from their initial sweet nothings to viciousness and conflict. They start out joined at the hip but end up going their separate ways—cruel reality takes the place of the perfection they had imagined. Their hearts, filled with visions of a perfect love are beaten black and blue one by one. How can someone free themselves from this pain when they’re cheated on and betrayed in love?
In her adolescence, the idea of “till death do us part” filled Zhang Qing with expectations and fantasies. She aspired to have the kind of love in romances where a man and a woman bravely care about nothing but their love; she wanted to find someone who loved and doted on her, who would grow old with her, hand in hand. That was her greatest desire. A boy came into her life several years later and he treated her just like she had seen in idol dramas. He really doted on her and was incredibly caring—Zhang Qing was awash in the bliss of love. She felt that he was really worth committing to, but when her parents found out that he wasn’t a local they strongly opposed their relationship. She disregarded her parents’ pleas and persuasions and unhesitatingly committed to him in pursuit of her own happiness.
After getting married her husband was even more caring toward her. Concerned that she wouldn’t feel comfortable in his hometown, he bought a house in her hometown and started a business there. Zhang Qing took note of all of these gestures and was very moved by them. She was deeply certain that she had made the right choice—she was completely immersed in this beautiful love, basking in this hard-won happiness.
But as the fires of love gradually cooled and the initial romance and passion of their marriage faded, Zhang Qing and her husband started to clash over little things in their daily lives. The differences between the lifestyles of their own regions aggravated their head-butting. On top of that, their business wasn’t doing well and two storefronts they had bought hadn’t been resold yet. Her husband was concerned for the money invested and over time started grumbling about having bought property in Zhang Qing’s hometown. He started overtly and subtly laying the blame on Zhang Qing for all these problems, and whenever he encountered something that didn’t go his way he wouldn’t talk it out with Zhang Qing as he had in the past, but would pick a fight with her. The man she had known who had doted on her so much seemed like he had become a totally different person. She had no idea why and felt incredibly upset. But when she thought of how there were bound to be conflicts and stumbling blocks in the course of a relationship, and how her husband was moody because of their struggling business and so there was a reason behind his outbursts, Zhang Qing continued to play the part of the woman in the stories. She was caring and solicitous toward him and tolerant of his baseless accusations and complaints. She painstakingly cared for their marriage.
“If I didn’t have so much money invested here I would have divorced her a long time ago.” Zhang Qing stumbled upon this chat history with someone she didn’t know—she was shocked that he would say something like that. Looking closer, she discovered that it was his ex-girlfriend. He had told Zhang Qing that he had cut off all contact with her; he had been lying to her all this time. She thought of the attitude he had had toward her recently that had left her feeling faintly uneasy. She was concerned about rekindling their old feelings for each other and that the marriage she had worked so hard on was just heading toward failure. She didn’t dare continue in that line of thought. After that, in an effort to win his heart back, she started buying cookbooks and learning to make all the food that he loved, she bought makeup and clothing to dress up, and did absolutely everything she could to help her husband in their business. But no matter how hard she worked, Zhang Qing’s husband remained indifferent to her. Even worse, when Zhang Qing had a miscarriage, her husband and his ex-girlfriend didn’t stop communicating with each other but instead started getting in touch even more often. Their text messages became even more nauseating. All she got in return for her patience with her husband was just heartlessness. He didn’t care a whit about her feelings, and Zhang Qing’s anger, complaints, and feeling of being humiliated all welled up in her heart. In her anger she started a big fight with her husband, and shockingly, he actually raised a hand against her and didn’t come back for the whole night.
He left town after that. When Zhang Qing found out that he had left her, feelings of hurt and pain surged up within her. She thought of all she had done to keep them together and wondered why he had been such a sweet husband, pledging his undying love, only to so heartlessly betray and deceive her. She deeply hated his cold ruthlessness and wanted to get revenge to give him a taste of his own medicine, to let him see what it feels like to be cheated on, but her sense of reason told her not to do that. Her husband’s betrayal left her in a constant state of pain and depression; she grew thinner by the day and lost all her hope in life.
In the midst of her pain and helplessness, her sister-in-law shared testimony with her of God’s work in the last days. She read these words of God: “The Almighty has mercy on these people who have suffered deeply; at the same time, He is fed up with these people who lack consciousness, as He has had to wait too long for an answer from humanity. He wishes to seek, to seek your heart and your spirit, to bring you water and food and to awaken you, that you may no longer be thirsty and hungry. When you are weary and when you begin to feel something of the bleak desolation of this world, do not be lost, do not cry. Almighty God, the Watcher, will embrace your arrival at any time. He is keeping watch by your side, waiting for you to turn back around.” God’s words soothed her wounded heart bit by bit and she felt a warmth she had never before experienced. From His words, she learned that even though she had been badly wounded by her husband and had been living with unspeakable suffering from his betrayal, God had seen her pain all along and had been silently looking after and protecting her. He had brought her before Him through her sister-in-law sharing the gospel, thus providing her with the sustenance of God’s words—all of that was God’s love. She felt the protection and care from God, just like a loving mother’s, and resolved to really believe in God from then on. From then on she frequently attended gatherings and read God’s words with brothers and sisters, she sang hymns in praise of God, and over time her wounded soul gained some comfort and smiles started appearing on her face once again.
One day Zhang Qing got a phone call from her husband out of the blue, asking her to give him another chance. She thought of how he had deceived her and had even hit her; she didn’t want to forgive him under any circumstances. But hearing his heartfelt words, she thought of all the little things in their life together, how she had disregarded her parents’ wishes to be with him. That kind of happiness was hard to come by and everyone makes mistakes. He had been so good to her before—was she being too petty? Even in films it’s not all smooth sailing for the protagonists to find their perfect love. So, she decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and resolutely got on a train to go meet him. The entire way there she was imagining her husband’s look of happiness upon seeing her face; she was dying to see him. Her train arrived after midnight, but call after call to her husband was unanswered. He didn’t come looking for her until the following day, giving the pat excuse that he’d been busy with work. He asked Zhang Qing to go back home and wait for him to meet her there. He seemed just as sincere as before so she didn’t think too much of it, but bought a ticket back home right away. She later learned from family members that he had no intention of reconciling with her, but had made that phone call just to appease his family. In fact, he had taken up with another woman long before. When she heard this, Zhang Qing’s mind went utterly blank—she couldn’t get a single word out. When she came to, she called her husband and under her questioning he admitted that he had lied to her. She was flooded with a mix of emotions. She hated herself for being so stupid—she well knew that she had been deceived by him over and over, but she still dreamed of getting their love back, so she decided to believe him. All she got back were lies. She wanted to yell and shout—all she wanted to do was hold on to her love, her marriage, so why would things turn out that way?
In her pain, she came before God in prayer and read these words of His: “People harbor many illusions about marriage before they experience it themselves, and all these illusions are quite beautiful. Women imagine that their other halves will be Prince Charming, and men imagine that they will marry Snow White. These fantasies go to show that every person has certain requirements for marriage, their own set of demands and standards. Though in this evil age people are constantly bombarded with distorted messages about marriage, which create even more additional requirements and give people all sorts of baggage and strange attitudes, any person who has experienced marriage knows that no matter how one understands it, no matter what one’s attitude toward it is, marriage is not a matter of individual choice.”
“These trends arise one after another, and they all carry an evil influence that continually debases mankind, causing people to lose conscience, humanity and reason, weakening their morals and their quality of character ever more, to the extent that we can even say that the majority of people now have no integrity, no humanity, and neither do they have any conscience, much less any reason. So what are these trends? They are trends that you cannot see with the naked eye. When a new trend sweeps through the world, perhaps only a small number of people are on the cutting edge, acting as the trendsetters. They start off doing some new thing, then accepting some kind of idea or some kind of perspective. The majority of people, however, will be continually infected, assimilated, and attracted by this kind of trend in a state of unawareness, until they all unknowingly and involuntarily accept it and become submerged in it and controlled by it. One after another, such trends cause people, who are not of sound body and mind, do not know what the truth is, and cannot differentiate between positive and negative things, to happily accept them as well as the life views and values that come from Satan. They accept what Satan tells them about how to approach life and the way to live that Satan ‘bestows’ on them, and they have neither the strength nor the ability, much less the awareness, to resist.”
From God’s words, Zhang Qing understood that Satan instills people with all sorts of satanic thinking and perspectives through romances and novels, just like the ideas of “grow old together, hand-in-hand,” “go through hard times together, unwavering in your vows,” “life is precious, but love even more so,” and “love is supreme.” These ideas fill people with fantasies about love and they long for a kind of love that exists in stories. They want to experience passionate love and then go through thick and thin together for the rest of their days—they get lost in these visions of a perfect love. Zhang Qing thought of how she had always liked romance fiction, how she had been so drawn in by the romance in those fictional love stories. She had always longed to be like the female main character in those stories, finding a kind of lifelong love; she hoped that her own romantic love story could be beautifully played out. And she found the male main character of her dreams and went against her parents for the sake of love and insisted on marrying him. When she discovered his betrayal she decided to be tolerant and forgiving in order to foster their love; she made all sorts of compromises and did everything she could think of to pander to him, but his indifference never abated. He even beat her. But she still didn’t lose hope and decided to believe his lies once again to keep their love. She was deceived and betrayed by him time after time. She was living in pain and had even lost all her hope in life. It occurred to Zhang Qing that she had been so harmed by Satan’s thinking and perspectives, always just pursuing this empty, meaningless love—how could she not have known that she had fallen for Satan’s tricks, that she had fallen into its trap? She had been firmly ensnared and had fallen into depression. Satan traps and harms people with these kinds of ideas, leading people to live subject to its trickeries, in terrible pain.
Zhang Qing read another passage of God’s words: “Why does a husband love his wife? Why does a wife love her husband? Why are children dutiful to their parents? Why do parents dote on their children? What sorts of intentions do people actually harbor? Is their intent not to satisfy their own plans and selfish desires?” God’s words so clearly reveal corrupt humanity’s mode of survival. Once people are corrupted by Satan their natures become selfish, despicable, crooked, and crafty. Even relationships between partners, spouses, parents and children, are riddled with deceit, lies, and betrayal. Zhang Qing thought of how her husband had initially been so sweet and caring, saying he was buying property for her sake, but when that property wouldn’t sell and he wouldn’t make anything back from his investment, he became cold toward her and started targeting her in everything. He even got entangled with another woman and didn’t care at all about their relationship as husband and wife. And there was this last incident—he had already found another woman where he was living and wasn’t planning to live with Zhang Qing at all, but he still pretended to want to reconcile with her just to appease his parents. Through his deceit he got Zhang Qing to go on a long trip far away from home with absolutely no consideration for her feelings. And Zhang Qing always thought that she genuinely loved her husband, but once he had deceived and betrayed her time after time she became full of resentment for him and even wanted to get her revenge by doing the same thing to him. Faced with the facts, she saw that there’s no such thing as love in relationships between humans, and the perfect love in romantic fiction is nothing but a mirage. She finally fully understood all of this through the revelations in God’s words. Otherwise, who knows how long she would have been blinded by this empty love. She gave heartfelt thanks to God for His love for her.
After going through all of that, Zhang Qing experienced in a very real way that only God’s love is true. When she was blinded and bound by erroneous ideas such as “love is supreme” and “grow old together, hand-in-hand,” she was living in incredible pain. But with God’s timely watering and nurturing of her soul, her wounded heart was soothed and she was able to fully, clearly see the essence of love and marriage. She was able to gradually free herself from being toyed with by Satan and began to live within God’s care and protection. These words of God really resonated for her: “Because the essence of God is holy, that means that only through God can you walk through life on the righteous path of light; only through God can you know the meaning of life; only through God can you live out real humanity and both possess and know the truth. Only through God can you obtain life from the truth. Only God Himself can help you shun evil and deliver you from the harm and control of Satan. Besides God, no one and nothing can save you from the sea of suffering so that you suffer no longer. This is determined by the essence of God.”
Her husband later suggested getting a divorce, and Zhang Qing readily agreed to close that chapter. After their divorce she didn’t feel remotely lonely. God was always by her side, watching over and accompanying her. She felt at peace and at ease in her heart through the watering and sustenance of His words, the care and help provided by brothers and sisters, as well as the duties she was able to perform within the church.