(Minghui.org) As the saying goes, “A leopard can't change its spots.” It is very hard to change one’s character even if the person tries really hard. I would like to relate how Falun Dafa changed me from being a rebellious girl and shrew of a wife to someone who is always considerate of others.

A Tomboy Who Fought All The Time

I was born in 1969. My parents expected me, their firstborn daughter, to be a good girl, so they were quite surprised that I was very rebellious and did not care about others at all. I did not know why I was like that either.

Starting in elementary school, I was always getting into fights. Sporting short hair, I was a total tomboy even though I was short for my age and skinny. But I was never scared of fighting. I’d use whatever I could get my hands on, even bricks, stones, and sticks. I would beat other kids up and swear at them. My parents scolded me and beat me, but I never cried or asked for mercy. In my mind, though, I did not blame my parents for spanking me since I knew I was wrong.

In middle school, I got even more violent. Sometimes I even fought several children at a time. Their parents often showed up at my home to complain to my parents. Right after they left, my parents would beat me, hoping I would change. But that did not happen.

Despite my aggressive streak, I did read many books, such as the classics like Journey to the West, A Dream of Red Mansions, Three Kingdoms, and Investiture of the Gods. In fact, I had a lot of questions from the time I was a child, such as, “Why do people die? Where do we go after death? Will we be reborn after death? Is there a way for us to live forever?”

No one was able to answer my questions, though. “Why do you waste time thinking about such nonsense?” my mother would exclaim. “We are happy if you are well fed, nothing else.” Nonetheless, I liked reading fairy tales and legends of immortals. When someone in the village died, I would mourn for the brief life human beings led.

A Difficult Marriage

In the countryside, girls usually married after turning 20. After failing the college entrance exam, I stayed at home and did not find a husband until I was 24. My mother often scolded me for being too picky. I was upset and said to her, “All right then, please stop yelling at me. I will marry whoever proposes next—as long as he is not lame or blind.”

In 1993, someone connected me with Lei, a 6-foot-tall veteran. He was not well-educated, however, and did not have a steady job after he retired from the army—and his family was poor. Because of this, my mother was strongly against me dating him. Lei’s mother did not like how outspoken I was, either. Despite their opposition, Lei and I married three months later anyway, and I did not ask for the bride price.

I learned after we married that Lei actually did not have a job at all. All he did was gamble and fight all day long. His two older brothers and one older sister were already married, and his younger sister, still single, lived with their parents in a two-room bungalow. So we moved in with his oldest brother as we could not afford to rent or buy our own house.

Lei continued to gamble as usual. My mother gave me 400 yuan before I got married, but Lei took it from me the day after our marriage and lost it gambling. If he won, he would buy food; otherwise, he would come home empty-handed.

Lei hardly talked to me and did not answer my questions at home. He would be annoyed if I said a few words to him. Sometimes he didn’t return at night and would be angry if I asked where he was. Every day after he returned home, he would drink alcohol and he never asked me how I was.

My mother-in-law had a reputation for being kind and chatty. She was always smiling and willing to help her neighbors. But whenever she saw me, her face would freeze. My father-in-law, on the other hand, was nice to me. To make things worse, my mother-in-law often said bad things about me in front of Lei, who in turn argued with me from to time. That upset me, and I stopped visiting my mother-in-law.

I quickly got pregnant. I wanted fruit, but Lei would not buy me any since he did not like fruit. Thinking it was hopeless, I stopped trying to repair our relationship. After all, we did not know each other well to begin with. Now we were like enemies. Whenever we saw each other, we would argue. We did agree to divorce after the baby was born. If it was a boy, he’d have custody; the child would be mine if it was a girl.

We lived about 40 miles from my parents, and my mother came to visit me from time to time. But I could not complain to her about how I was suffering. After all, it was my decision who to marry. I also did not want my parents to continue to worry about me since they were already old. With hardly anyone to talk to, however, I was very depressed and counted the days until we were divorced.

When my daughter turned one in 1995, Lei and I decided to file for divorce the next day. The next morning, however, a neighbor had difficulty breathing due to back pain. When Lei took him for an X-ray at the hospital, he also got an X-ray himself—it was free since his relative worked there. The neighbor was okay, but Lei was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He had had it for some time already, the doctor said.

Coming home from the hospital, Lei was miserable because he could not smoke, drink, get angry, or do hard labor. In addition, he had to eat. Seeing his situation, I decided to help him first and we would divorce later.

People with tuberculosis need daily medication, which damages the liver and kidneys. To counter the side effects, my husband had to eat well but we didn’t have much money. I decided to get a job. I asked my mother-in-law to help take care of my daughter while I was at work, but she said no. I had no choice but to send my little girl to live with my parents. Since they were so far away, I could only see my daughter during holidays or on the days I was off work. My daughter lived with my parents until she was seven. I was very resentful of my mother-in-law: “How can you play Mahjong every day and not help your granddaughter?”

With the help of a neighbor, I got a job selling shoes at a wholesale market. It was in the 1990s and people in general weren’t paid much. I made 600 yuan per month and had to buy lunch there. I worked 11 hours a day, from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and it was very hard. To save money, I rode an old bike Lei found for me instead of taking the bus. I rode very fast and could cover those five miles in half an hour.

It rained a lot in the summer during those years. Even with a raincoat, I still got wet, so I was cold and hungry. In the winter, the road was frozen and slippery. I often fell and got bruised. To save money, I bought one-yuan steamed buns and a 50-cent pickle. This way, I saved 100 per month on lunch and gave the rest of my 500 yuan in earnings to Lei so he could buy good food he liked. Lei was very moved, and within three years, he’d fully recovered.

I met lots of people at work. Gradually, I became more open-minded. But swearing at customers was business as usual for me, and sometimes I fought with them.

Becoming a Falun Gong Practitioner

One morning in 1997, I finished cleaning the shoes in my booth and then saw another sales associate, Zhu, reading a book. Because I’d liked to read since I was a child, I asked if I could borrow the book.

“Sorry, but this book is not for you. It is a Buddha School cultivation practice. But you have a bad temper and often swear. It won’t work,” she said, shaking her head.

“Come on, everyone in my family believes in Buddha. Can I read it?” I asked again.

But Zhu shook her head again and I did not say anything.

After cleaning my shoes the following morning, I cleaned my hands and went to Zhu’s booth to get the book.

“Please lend me the book. If you don’t, don’t even think of reading it,” I said.

“OK. Here you are. You can read it,” she said. “But if you do not believe it, please do not say anything bad about it—that wouldn’t be good for you.”

“Thank you. I won’t,” I replied.

The book was titled Falun Gong. It was not thick and I did not have many customers that morning, so I finished reading the book before noon.

“This book is great. I want to learn Falun Gong, too,” I said when I returned it.

“You always swear at people. How can you practice this?” Zhu asked.

“I will change. Trust me,” I replied.

I went to Zhu’s home after work every day for nine days in a row so I could watch the nine-day video lectures by Master Li, founder of Falun Gong. I learned the five exercises and got my own copy of Falun Gong.

From the teachings, I learned that virtue is important, since we need it to cultivate. Especially if one works in the service industry like me, one will lose virtue by swearing, fighting, and even giving someone a bad look. So I had to correct all these behaviors. The Falun Gong teachings also prohibited killing, so from then on I stopped eating live fish and only bought frozen ones.

Master Li also said a woman needs to be gentle and care for her husband. In fact, as a practitioner, I should be nice to everyone. Even if someone treated me badly, it could be a karmic debt from the past. With this in mind, I regretted how I’d behaved to my husband in the past.

In the teachings, Master also mentioned that people from all walks of life could practice. I enlightened that this means that we have to be responsible for our family, work diligently at our jobs, not compete with others, and not take advantage of others when doing business. Thinking about it further, I realized that this practice is indeed great. It helps both officials and ordinary people become better. It is free and convenient for everyone, regardless of race, age, or financial situation. Plus, as long as one puts in the effort and cultivates sincerely, one will reach consummation. This is truly amazing!

As time went by, I understood more and more. For example, cultivation means to let go of attachments and human notions. Illness, on the other hand, is caused by one’s own karma. Questions I’d had since childhood were answered. As long as I cultivate according to Falun Gong, Master will take care of everything.

Looking back, I even surprised myself. Through the years, my parents scolded me and beat me countless times but failed to change me. After I began to practice Falun Gong, however, I always smiled and treated others well. Moreover, I was full of energy and in good spirits. My attitude toward Lei and my mother-in-law improved dramatically. All my resentment was gone.

When I visited my parents for the Chinese New Year, I played Master’s nine-day lecture seminars to relatives and neighbors. My father and my second younger sister began to practice, and so did some relatives. When some of the villagers were surprised by how I’d changed, I told them, “It is Falun Gong that helps me to be a good person.”

Improving My Character

Shortly after I began to practice, tests came to improve my xinxing.

One day, right after I cleaned the shoes, a customer came and tried on one pair of shoes after another—almost all the men’s shoes I had. I was busy finding him shoes and checking if they were comfortable for him. In the end, he left without purchasing any.

Other sales associates commented on this. “Look at that guy. I don’t think he came to buy shoes in the first place,” one of them said. Looking at the shoes and boxes spread out all over, I was not upset at all and simply put them away. In fact, I, too, was surprised at how I could I remain so calm. Had this happened in the past, I would have cursed him and probably even beat him. But all these impulses were gone. Some of the sales associates in the market were waiting for me to start a big fight, but nothing happened.

I was happy every day. When there was no one around, I sometimes even jumped for joy. In the morning, I would go to work after group exercises and return home after group Fa-study.

As my mindset improved, the environment around me changed. Lei was fully cured, and he became an electrician. He cared about the family and bought utensils for us from time to time. My mother-in-law was still not nice to me, but I didn’t let it bother me and treated her well. I brought her fruit and cooked for her now and then. My father-in-law thanked me every time. As time went on, my mother-in-law also had a smile on her face. My husband’s younger sister also began to like me and sometimes gave me small gifts like clothes.

When he ran into his fellow veterans, Lei often told them, “Please ask your wives to learn from my wife. Once they learn Falun Gong, they won’t fight with you and you do not need to worry about them having affairs, either.”

“Your mother-in-law said you are now a much better person and make money to support the family,” one neighbor said to me.

“We all have to thank Falun Gong,” I replied.

When we ran into each other on the street, my mother-in-law now greeted me, when in the past she just ignored me. “If everyone practices Falun Gong, the world will be a much better place,” she often told others. “We would not even need police since everyone would be so nice.”

At that time, improving character was relatively easy. But doing the sitting meditation in the lotus position was difficult for me. My legs were stiff and I had to work hard on that. It took me a year to get my legs crossed on top of each other in that position.

At work, I was happy all day long. I no longer argued or fought with anyone. I did not even remember the bad words I’d said in the past. Seeing me smiling all the time, some sales associates asked why. “Well, I am a Falun Gong practitioner now and the practice makes me healthy and happy,” I answered. “Why shouldn’t I be joyful?”

With continued study of the Falun Gong teachings, I changed completely and became more considerate of Lei. He also changed. At home, he cleaned the house, did the laundry, cleaned the floor, shopped for groceries, and did cooking. He was also very supportive of my practice, which made me very happy.

But it was not so easy all the time. Once when we were eating together, Lei suddenly slapped me in the face twice. I did not know why and walked out crying. From childhood to adulthood, I was the one who’d done the hitting. But after I began to practice, others now hit me. But I also understood the importance of forbearance even if it was difficult. So I wiped away my tears and went inside to clean up the table.

Later on Lei said he did not know why he hit me. In fact, he did not even know what happened. I realized that it was Master who was testing me and helping me to improve through Lei.

There was a period of time when I cooked breakfast for my parents-in-law before I went to work every day. My mother-in-law’s sister was happy with our harmonious relationship and used her own money to build a three-room house on the same lot where my parents-in-law’s two-room house sat. My aunt-in-law wanted her sister and brother-in-law to spend their final years with us. Lei asked me if I was OK with the arrangement and I said I was. So my parents-in-law, their younger daughter, and a grandson shared the newly-built house, while my husband and I lived in his parents’ old house. Our extended family ate every meal together.

One day, my mother-in-law said she could cook breakfast since she got up earlier. I was very thankful and didn’t get up as usual the next morning. To my surprise, I heard her complaining to Lei in the next room when I got up, “Your wife is so lazy. She did not have to get up to make breakfast but now she sleeps when I get breakfast ready.” I did not defend myself and just continued cooking breakfast for the family. My mother-in-law eventually stopped complaining. Lei also became better—no matter what his mother said about me, he would not argue with me anymore.

The person who gave me the biggest challenge when it came to my xinxing was Liang, Lei’s second older brother. He had a tricycle cab and made some money. But he would not spend a penny on food. He’d come eat breakfast every day but never chipped in a penny to share the cost even after my mother-in-law asked him to contribute 30 yuan per month. He also complained a lot to me: “Today’s dish is too bland. That dish is too salty or spicy. The rice is too soft, the soup too plain, the vegetables not cut properly, etc., etc.” When my mother-in-law asked why he did not eat in his own home, he said the food at our place was better.

Ever since I married his brother, Liang would say bad things about me every time we met. Sometimes he said I was too silly and that even a three-year-old was smarter than me. After I began to practice Falun Gong, he said I was foolish. This went on for 20 years. I thought I must have hurt him a lot in a previous life.

My mother-in-law had a vegetable garden, about one-third of an acre. She planned to give it to us so we could build a house there. But Liang sold his house and asked to have the land every day. In the end, he got it. He then planned to build more houses on the land, thinking to get more compensation from the government when it decided to take over private land for urban development. Since he had no money, he told our fellow villagers that whoever invested in building the houses would receive 50% of the compensation later on. But no one took him up on it. To prevent Liang from losing face, Lei and I took out all our savings and gave it to Liang. He built a house, a garage, and a storage unit. He and his wife promised to give us half of the government compensation later on.

Both Lei and I were happy, too, thinking we would get a lot of money. We dreamed of using the money to purchase a large apartment and a car for our daughter. But when the government indeed took over the land and compensated Liang and his wife, they signed all the paperwork without our knowledge. They took the money and quickly moved away.

Both Lei and I were angry since we didn’t get even one cent. At the time, many families had internal fights because of issues concerning the government compensations. I knew that being a practitioner means letting go of attachments to fame and material interests. But when it came to such a large amount (close to one million yuan), it was really hard to get over it. Meanwhile, I had to persuade Lei, “No worries. We don’t want the money. Things will be fine as long as we are all safe.” I was not like this in the past. I would fight for the money even at the cost of my own life.

Lan, Lei’s younger sister, also tested me a great deal. She is not a bad person, but she had a hot temper. Her attitude could change instantly, even faster than one flipping pages of a book. All relatives and neighbors were afraid of her.

Had I not practiced Falun Gong, I would not have survived one day in this family. No one in the family dared to comment on Lan. She also threw things—scissors, cooking knives, anything she saw. When she felt bad, she would look for someone to pick on. She would not stop until she was tired. I was often her target.

Once when I was off work, I was chatting with my mother-in-law. Lan overheard us and insisted I was badmouthing her when in fact I didn’t mention her at all. She followed me and swore at me while asking if I had said bad things about her. I said I had not. She did not believe me and continued swearing at me, even badmouthing my parents and other people I knew. She brought up things that had happened years before. My mother-in-law could not tolerate it anymore and testified I did not say bad things about her. But Lan did not give up, saying her mother was biased against her.

“You are a Falun Gong practitioner who follows Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance,” she said. “If you cannot forbear, you are a fake practitioner.”

When Lei came home that evening, Lan talked to him, asking him to “fix me.”

“No need,” Lei said with a smile. “I trust you can settle everything.”

After swearing for a long time, Lan finally got tired and asked me, “Tell me, were you treated unfairly?”

“No, I was not,” I smiled and said, “I should not have said things behind others’ backs.” Her anger was not gone until then.

Lan lived with us for 20 years. When I did poorly, she would point it out immediately. When I did well, she would praise Falun Gong. When I was harassed for my faith, she stood up and did her best to protect me. When I was forced to stay away from home, she took care of our big family.

(To be continued)