The Lord Set My Heart Free
Crystal Jing—Canoga Park, California,
A Hard Time Letting Go of Past Beliefs
I did not believe in God’s
existence before I married my husband in 2002. But since my mother-in-law was a
Christian, we started to go to church. My initial feelings toward Christians
were that everyone was very loving. Nevertheless, I couldn’t feel the presence
of God. One month after we were married, my husband left China to start a Ph.D. program at the University of California,
(UCLA). At UCLA, he met a member from the True Jesus Church in CanogaPark
who brought him to seek the truth. I joined him in the United States a
year later and started to attend service too.
Praise God, He gave me the Holy
Spirit just three weeks after I began going to church. That was my first
personal experience of His wonderful grace. A week after that, my husband and I
were baptized in the name of the Lord. Knowing that my sins were washed away, I
sought to begin a new life. However, some of the ideas that stuck with me
through ten-some years of education in China did not allow me to transition
into a new life that easily.
For example, the Bible teaches
that wives ought to submit to their husbands. To me, that was a concept
applicable only in the days before the Chinese Revolution. I was a strong
proponent of the idea that there should be no talk of submission in marriage.
Women should have their own careers and be on par with men. Even one year after
my baptism, many unresolved biblical issues still remained in my heart.
GraduateSchool and My Ambitions
Before I came to the US, I was a graduate student in China.
I had two more years left of a five-year program. Not wanting to be separated
from my husband for too long, I quit the program and came to the US on
a spousal visa. Although it was a real pity to quit graduate school, I actually
had my hopes up because I had been accepted by another graduate program at
UCLA. I believed I could obtain a degree very quickly.
It was not until I arrived in the US
that I found out my professor had very limited funding and couldn’t give me a
scholarship. That meant I would be unable to start my studies right away
because I would be incapable of paying the tuition. That came as a big blow to
me. My education was my career. If I didn’t have a career, then I had nothing.
I couldn’t even work because I was on a spousal visa.
I began to volunteer in the lab of
a renowned professor at UCLA. I would help him in doing some research while I
waited for the chance to be readmitted. Since we believed in God, my husband
would put this matter into his prayers. At first, we had a lot of faith in God
because many brothers and sisters told me that the Lord must love me greatly to
have given me the Holy Spirit so quickly. They encouraged me by telling me that
our God is a merciful God and that He would surely listen to our prayers and
A Dwindling Faith
But as time passed, I heard no
news of any scholarship and my heart became entrapped in doubt. Why doesn’t God
listen to my prayers? Is it because He does not love me anymore? Maybe He only
loves those whose faith is strong. Another three months passed and by October
2003, I felt that my chance of receiving the scholarship was probably close to
zero. At that point, I considered applying to other schools.
My friends back home encouraged me
to go ahead but my husband strongly disagreed. He felt that the possibility of
me being accepted by other schools in California
was very small. If I got accepted by a school in the East Coast, we would be
forced to separate again, and he didn’t want this to happen. He told me the
Bible taught that the husband and wife were one body, and it would be best if
we did not separate.
He continued to encourage me not
to lose faith, for the Lord would listen to our prayers. But, having waited so
long, I could no longer hold on to my faith in God. I decided that I had to use
my own might to fight for myself. Not surprisingly, my husband and I quarreled
Around that time, my husband had
to prepare for his Ph.D. qualifying exam. I didn’t want to stir up too much
trouble so I finally gave up on the application process. Nevertheless, in my
heart, I was torn apart with worry. I figured that if I didn’t receive this
awaited scholarship from UCLA or receive other scholarship offers, I would have
wasted a whole year doing nothing. Such vexations further aggravated my
existing bad temper. It affected my husband so much that he couldn’t prepare
for his exam. A month later, my husband received notice that he failed his
exam. Because each Ph.D. student has two chances to pass the exam, he had only
one more chance. The pressure was intense.
I began to realize that I had been
very selfish and had caused him to fail the exam. I tried to behave more
maturely and to tone down my temper. Every Sabbath I would go to church with my
husband but I was still very troubled. I felt no tinge of joy in my heart. I
tried to pray and read the Bible, only to end up helplessly frustrated. By May
2004, my temper had become out of control. There was bitterness pent up inside
A lot of my college friends had
received scholarships to come to the US to study, but I had nothing.
When I compared myself with them, I felt small and started to regret not
applying to other schools the previous year. Had I applied then, I could have
been attending school with a full fellowship!
I began to doubt God. My friends
were not even believers but they had the success that eluded me. I thought that
surely God did not love me. Confused and uncertain about the future, I became
moodier. I quarreled with my husband over many trivial matters. It was not as
if I didn’t want to control myself. I did wonder what had become of me, but
that failed to help me change. Sometimes, I would simmer down for a day or two
but I eventually lost my temper again.
I feared that if I continued like
that, my husband would fail his second attempt at the qualifying exam. Not only
would I not be able to go to school, my husband wouldn’t obtain a degree.
Perhaps he would despise me and our marriage would disintegrate.
The Turning Point at NYTS 2004
Around that time, a sister spoke
to me about the National Youth Theological Seminar (NYTS). She said many people
who went to NYTS changed a lot. So I registered for the seminar and asked the
Lord to take away the burden in my heart. I was tired of being troubled; I
wanted a joyful and content heart.
At NYTS, many brothers and sisters
showed their concern and prayed for me, and I felt the warmth of the brethren
in the Lord. Through one sister’s testimony, the Lord opened my heart and I
felt my prayers heard. In that testimony, the sister testified how she came to
church with her husband after her son’s suicide. The rest of their family
blamed her husband for it. When something happens, it is so easy to put the
blame on one person. When I heard that, tears fell from my face, and I felt
that it was the Lord moving me. I thought of all the bitterness I had against
my husband in my own situation.
Looking Deep Within Myself
I wasn’t thrilled when he came to
to study. And because I didn’t want to be separated from him I had to withdraw
from school. It was stressful, as the school did not simply allow withdrawals.
It took me a year to complete the withdrawal process. I blamed my husband for
the difficulties that I had encountered. I felt that I sacrificed so much. I
also blamed him for not allowing me to apply to other schools where I could
have received a scholarship.
There was much resentment in me. I
said many things that hurt my husband and I became completely callous. When he
got sick, I didn’t take care of him but wondered why he always got sick.
Looking back, I realized I was always sour-faced with him and my words were
like daggers waiting to pierce him. But my husband always had compassion and
embraced my shortcomings. Even when he failed his qualifying exam, he didn’t
say a single word of blame. On the other hand, he kept comforting me so I
wouldn’t feel so bad. It dawned on me that it wasn’t that God didn’t love me or
didn’t hear my prayers. Actually, He loved me a lot and gave me the most
precious thing in this world—a wonderful husband and marriage.
If not for the Lord’s preservation
that my husband had a heart of compassion, my marriage would have been
destroyed by my ambition and vexations. I began to realize that putting one’s
career before the family was a ridiculous concept. It is God’s true will to
place Him first, our family second, and our career last.
This is the best way of life for
I thank God for the prayer after
the testimony. He took away all my troubles, low self-esteem, and all the
things I worried about. What was left was a thankful heart, for I know now how
good it is to be in the Lord.
A Renewed and Thankful Heart
Upon returning home after NYTS, I
felt very blessed the moment I laid eyes on my husband. My heart was filled
with thankfulness. Of course, the problem with my school did not resolve itself
right after NYTS, but my troubled heart had been replaced by feelings of peace
and joy. My attitude towards church also changed. I started enjoying services
at church, whereas before I felt it a burden to spend a whole day on Saturday
for Sabbath. Thank the Lord for transforming me so I could enjoy service.
My husband and I also began
attending services on Friday evenings. We never went before because I didn’t
want to go. Although we now get home late on Fridays, I feel very joyful at
heart. We also feel more inclined toward attending church activities. The Lord
truly is a very good Shepherd. Through NYTS, He brought me back as a lost sheep
to His fold.
I also began to see God’s
blessings in my daily life. In January 2005, UCLA awarded me a scholarship so I
could begin my studies. My advising professor happened to be a brother from
The Lord also blessed my husband
so that he passed his second attempt at the Ph.D. qualifying exam. I know that
I can continue to trust in Him for what comes next in my life!