The Philippine Star
How to deal with your mother-in-law
I have softened the title as the original material would have been entitled: “How to Poison Your Mother-in-law.” This story is old, but it teaches a valuable lesson.
A long time ago in China, a girl named Li-Li got married and went to live with her husband and mother-in-law. In a very short time, Li-Li found that she couldn’t get along with her mother-in-law at all. Their personalities were very different, and Li-Li was angered by many of Her mother-in-law’s habits. In addition, she criticized Li-Li constantly. Days and weeks passed, Li-Li and her motherin-law never stopped arguing and fighting. But what made the situation even worse was that, according to ancient Chinese tradition, Li-Li had to bow to her mother-in-law and obey her every wish. All the anger and unhappiness in the house was causing Li-Li’s poor husband great distress.
Finally, Li-Li could not stand her mother-in-law’s bad temper and dictatorship any longer, and she decided to do something about it. Li-Li went to see her father’s good friend, Mr. Huang, who sold herbs. She told him the situation and asked if he would give her some poison so that she could solve the problem once and for all. Mr. Huang thought for a while, and finally said, “Li-Li, I will help you solve your problem, but you must listen to me and obey what I tell you.” Li-Li said, “Yes, Huang Mr. I will do whatever you tell me to do.”
Mr. Huang went into the back room, and returned in a few minutes with a package of herbs. He told Li-Li, “You can’t use a quick-acting poison to get rid of your motherin-law, because that would cause people to become suspicious. Therefore, I have given you several herbs that will slowly build up poison in her body.
On alternate days, prepare some delicious meals and put a little of these herbs in her serving. Now, in order to make sure that nobody suspects you when she dies, you must be very careful to act very friendly towards her. Don’t argue with her, obey her every wish, and treat her like a queen.” Li-Li was so happy. She thanked Mr. Huang and hurried home to start her plot of murdering her mother-in-law. Weeks went by, and months went by, and every other day, Li-Li served the specially treated food to her mother-in-law. She remembered what Mr. Huang had said about avoiding suspicion, so she controlled her temper, obeyed her mother-in-law, and treated her like her own mother.
After six months that had passed, the whole household has changed. Li-Li has practiced controlling her temper so much that she found that she almost never got mad or upset. She hadn’t had an argument with her mother-inlaw in six months because she now seemed much kinder and easier to get along with. The mother-in-law’s attitude towards Li-Li changed, and she began to love Li-Li like her own daughter. She kept telling friends and relatives that Li-Li was the best daughter-in-law one could ever find. Li-Li and her mother-in-law were now treating each other like a real mother and daughter. Li-Li’s husband was very happy to see what was happening.
One day, Li-Li came to see Mr. Huang and asked for his help again. She said, “Dear Mr. Huang, please help me to keep the poison from killing my mother-in-law! She’s changed into such a nice woman, and I love her like my own mother. I do not want her to die because of the poison I gave her.”
Mr. Huang smiled and nodded his head. “Li-Li, there’s nothing to worry about. I never gave you any poison. The herbs I gave you were vitamins to improve her health. The only poison was in your mind and your attitude towards her, but that has all been washed away by the love which you gave to her.”
Have you realized that how you treat others is exactly how they will treat you? There is a wise Chinese saying: “The person who loves others will also be loved in return.”
God might be trying to work in another person’s life through you.
What a fantastic story. There is great power in kindness. And what does Jesus have to say about this? I guess you already know…the part about loving your enemy… (not really). Love your mother-in-law. I love mine, and you should too.
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