In 1988, I went to East China Normal University. I studied computer. Not that I was interested in it, actually I did not know anything about computer before I went to university.
When I was to graduate from high school and choose which university to go, I had three wishes, I wanted either to be a kindergarten teacher, or to study agriculture, or to study physics. But my parents didn't agree, they said, kindergarten teachers did not need a university degree, and agriculture did not suit a person so afraid of worms and toads like me, as for physics, it was too difficult for a girl to study.
Passing through the country's political turmoil, my parents had learned from their hard experience that the most important thing in life was to have a job that does not depend upon human relationship, but upon his own knowledge and skills, so that he did not need to sacrifice conscience for a piece of bread. As computer was a new technology and was gaining popularity and became more and more useful, they thought computer was a good profession that might secure independence and freedom for an honest person. I thought their advice very reasonable, so I followed it.
But I did not do very well at university, and I even almost lost my faith. When I look back now, I can see more clearly than before why I stumbled.
I had no interest in computer and knew nothing about it before. But all of a sudden, I had to deal with binary numbers, data structures, agorithms, matrix transformation, and many other new and difficult concepts. I felt like in the cloud, not knowing why I must learn all those things, what they were for. Only in the third year, did I gradually begin to understand a little what they were for. In my fourth year, I became wiser and borrowed some textbooks on programming in English. Only then did I know programming could be an interesting thing too. Many years later, I learned from experiences that it was easier to learn a new subject through interesting examples than introducing many new and abstract concepts and theories at first. How many students are blocked outside the door of knowledge because of the bad methods of education!
Shanghai is a big and busy city, but I didn't like it at all. I felt it like a big concrete world filled with man-made things. There wasn't even a small hill, and the sky was always gray with dust and smog. I missed home, I missed our home village, where we could see mountains and river around us, which gave me inspiration, and drew me closer to God.
I felt lost, and missed the fresh and bright mornings that always greeted me at high school. I felt as if God had left me, I often felt upset and dark. I didn't know where to find back the happiness and freshness I had at high school, and I found it very hard to mix up with my classmates, for our way of life and our ideas were completely different, they thought me a very stranger person, and I didn't know how to make them understand me.
My life was completely out of order, and I did not know how to get things right. In my confusion, I frequented the library, trying to find an answer there. But I did not know what books to read. The professional books were too hard for me. As I had come to like science very much, I also liked reading scientists' biography. So I read many such books.
But these books led me into more confusion, for many of the scientists I read about said they did not believe in God. Although I didn't quite understand their reasons, I felt they might have some reason. There arose a doubt in me, maybe there are other ways to truth, not just the one I knew, I thought.
I began to make friends with other students and went to listen to lectures about Buddhism, Qigong etc. As a result, I stopped praying and lost my faith. But forsaking God didn't help me, instead everything grew even worse. Although before I found the courses very hard to understand, I still managed to pass all the exams. But now I began to fall behind more and more, and failed more and more exams. I failed so many exams in the second year, that I could not get degree upon graduation, although I did well in the last two years.
I felt very painful and helpless. I went home during the second year summer vocation.
My father had been a communist party member. But just during the time when I lost my faith, he got his faith. I remember I used to ask my father if he believed in God or not, he always replied that he believed not in God nor in Devil but in himself. Unlike my mother, my father was an easy-going man, he always avoided conflicting others as much as possible, so he had got along quite well with his colleagues and leaders. But something happened that year that changed his life.
In the department which my father taught, they were going to nominate professors. Among all the teachers, my father was the best qualified, but someone played trick and got the nomination instead of my father. He was shocked, he used to think my mother met unfair treatment because of her straightforward and strong personality, but now himself, such a mild and tolerant man as he was, also was treated deceitfully and unfairly by people whom had never offended. He felt helpless. But at this point, my mother stood firmly by him. She prayed for him, and told him to trust God only, and feared not men. She encouraged him to write a report to state his case to the university, but at the same time advised him not to regard the professor's position too much, for after all it is only worldly honor, there are better things to pursue than that in God's kingdom. My father followed her advice. In his crisis, he felt he couldn't believe in himself as he had said before, and but he needed God very much. So he began to pray and read Bible. Although in the end he did not get the position of professor, he became a Christian.
He still kept his party membership until several years later, when my younger sister was to graduate from high school. Then he openly told his colleagues he was a Christian, and quitted the communist party. He often says now that it took many years for him to completely get rid off the influence of his earlier communist education, and that only now, when he has more time after retirement to read Bible and to think does he know clearly what he believes in and the true Christian way of living and doing things.
Now back to my story. When my parents saw my miserable state, they were worried about me. My father took me to a prayer meeting. I went because I didn't want to displease them. Then while praying, I saw a picture in my mind. I saw myself such a small human being inside a vast universe, I suddenly realized my mistake. Who am I so that I can question the existence of the creator of this universe? It is just pride and vanity that lead those "great people" in the world to denounce Him in order to show their own cleverness. How could I pretend to be like them, being just yet an ordinary person?
As I asked God to forgive me my arrogance, I felt a great burden come off my heart, and I felt light and bright inside. I was baptized with my father in the Min river that summer.
However as the time drew near for me to go back to the school, I felt heavy and dark, for I did not know how to face my problems back at the university. I couldn't help crying when I thought of going back. I would rather not go back. I had never liked my university life!
When I look back now, I thought many a mistakes I made could have been avoided if there had been a Christian fellowship, if there had been some older people to give me counsels about what books to read, about how to develop our talents, and about how to prepare us for the use of God.
When I read Ellen White's An Appeal to the Youth, how I wish I had read it when I was in the university, or even better when I was in high school!
I did go back to the university in the end. I worked pretty hard during the remaining two years and improved my grades a lot. But I could not have the joy of learning and the purity and freshness of feeling close to God again. I often lived in fear, and I did not know clearly how my life should be.
So after 4 years, I graduated from university, without a degree, and with a shameful and painful memory.
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