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Why Are Chinese Mothers So Tired?

At the end of 2014, People’s Daily’s “Why Are Chinese Mothers So Tired?” series of pictographs created massive resonance and went wildly viral. During this period of time, I received a number of interviews on this topic as well as wrote a couple of responses of my own. I chose to share this version contrasting two value systems based upon two belief systems, because ultimately what we believe in drives our behavior. Without analyzing and contrasting the differences at the deepest root level, we will forever be comparing surface behaviors and methods without being able to solve the foundational problems at the thought/values/attitude/motivation level. I hope that once we begin to understand the root causes of some of these problems, the core problem of the age-old mother-in-law and daughter-in-law conflicts in Chinese culture will also be dissected to uncover an answer.

Why are Chinese mothers so tired?

Ever since Mao Zedong freed up Chinese women to hold up half the sky, the modern Chinese woman, whether you evaluate her quality of life from an income, education, or standard of living perspective, has far surpassed our mothers and the peers of their generation. We can even say that our lives have surpassed anything they could have dreamt of. However, from another perspective, although the modern Chinese woman has so much, as if she can have both a successful career and a perfect family, why are Chinese mothers today more tired and unhappy than our predecessors?

This is because, although the status of Chinese women has been elevated in society, her value validated, her labor compensated at a level our mothers can only envy, she continues to be bound in the home with the values of our clans and our nation. This is the source of her exhaustion. While the Cultural Revolution eliminated some bad things from our families, it did not replace them with a better blueprint. Therefore, Cultural Revolution created a vacuum of values and models in our families. The Economic Opening Up brought in economic development models from the West into China, but neglected the most basic societal unit – the family. In the face of this glaring absence, people have no choice but to return to the past to extend those models. However, we need to remind ourselves: were our fathers and mothers of their generation wrong? Why did they feel a need to strike down Confucian and Daoist ideology? What compelled them to overturn them, and are these reasons valid? Are Confucian and Daoist values biased or hurtful against women? And if Confucian and Daoist values have aspects that are unreasonable, why are we returning to reuse them today?

Are Chinese Mothers Happy?

In their book entitled “Engineering Happiness”, economists Rakesh Sarin and Manel Baucells came up with a formula for measuring happiness:

Reality – Expectation = Happiness

Since our everyday lives have improved greatly from the past, the modern Chinese woman should feel happier. However, as a result of the opportunities brought on by Reform and Opening Up, the modern Chinese women had developed higher expectations for her future. This is especially true from the family perspective, because women should be able to do it all and have it all. Although modern Chinese women are wearing a beautiful coat of career on the outside, when they return to the home, they continue to be bound up by the age-old Confucian definition and expectation of a woman. What’s even more interesting is that the enforcer of these values are often not the men, but the women of previous generations. Why do I say that? Because these “old hands” are the victims of Confucianism, and have suffered the worst bondages at the hands of Confucianism.

The Weight of Expectations

In her book entitled “Hurt People Hurt People”, Dr. Sandra Wilson puts forward the idea that someone who has been hurt a certain way will often hurt others in the same way. In addition, often those that hurt us the deepest are those that we love and trust the most. Chinese mothers are tired because the mothers or mothers in law who love them the most have the highest and often unrealistic expectations from them of all people. These expectations result from the previous generations of mothers hoping that their daughters will now seize all the career possibilities and opportunities afforded by modern times, yet at the same time fulfill the age-old expectations imposed on them from Confucian values.

“As he thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Modern society has a terrible lie, and that is that you can have it all. This lie has hurt countless gullible women. Everyone only has 24 hours in a day, and close relationships require time to build and maintain. A woman who is successful in her career has a hard time allocating the time needed to cultivate an intimate relationship with her child, and a mother who is able to give her child adequate time has a hard time allocating enough time to develop a fast track career. After giving birth to her child, although a limited minority of fortunate women who have help from capable and involved husbands, mothers, in-laws, and nanny are able to successfully juggle both career development and family, she will naturally not be as close to her child as other primary caregivers. The lie “You can have it all” adds an additional layer of unrealistic expectation onto mothers who are already exhausted.

Besides the above lie, these “Tired Mommy” symptoms reported by People’s Daily are actually all natural byproducts of the unrealistic expectations placed upon mothers by the Confucian value system. Therefore, the root cause is actually not East West cultural difference, but the fundamental difference between a society where the family structure and role definition is built upon Christian biblical value system and one built upon a Confucian one. Christian morality is based upon God, while Confucian morality is based upon man. The extent to which the modern Chinese mother is able to escape the bondage of Confucian morality will depend on how much she is renewed from the inside out by Christian values.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2)

The Secret Behind the Happiness of Western Mothers

In his 2002 article entitled “A Market Economy with Churches and One Without Churches”, economist Dr. Peter Zhao (Zhao Xiao) mentions what the late economist Yang XiaoKai pointed out: “From an economic standpoint, the only factor that can enable a society to continue to expand economically is Christianity. . . The American market economy is actually the result of Christian culture, and the long-term and sustained growth of market economy is also completely build upon this foundation.” Just like the secret of the sustained growth of Western market economy is not the natural result of societal development, but the result of a foundation of Christianity, the “ease and freedom” of Western mothers is not the natural result of societal development, but Christian family morality. The sad thing is that Americans are beginning to drift away from this faith based foundation, and thus all kinds of problems are appearing in the domain of her families and economy – from the Wall Street Financial Crisis to the rapid rise of divorce rates, America’s past economic prosperity is beginning to decline as well. I hope that what Chinese families imitate is not the outward form of the American family, but the foundation of a Christian morality, in order to avoid following in the footsteps of America’s moral decline.

Let’s use People’s Daily’s infographics to examine the differences in these two family value systems.

(Note: I don’t think these infographics apply to post 80’s mothers. Many of them grew up under this kind of parenting and chose to push back against these expectations. Many choose to let their elders raise their children instead of parenting them themselves, and chose to go do their own things. Sowing the seed of leaving their children to be raised by grandparents will reap the bitter fruit of losing the close relationship that parents have with their children. But that is the subject of another discussion.)

1. The Status of Men and Women and Their Relationship to Each Other

Confucianism stresses “male superiority female inferiority” (男尊女卑). This kind of definition of the value and position of women denies women their independent character and stresses that women are moral through their gentle obedience. Confucian women adhere to this gender based hierarchical morality, emphasizing the virtues of chastity, meekness, and filial piety in women. These virtues are based upon the foundation of the five fold way of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity (仁义礼智信)

In contrast, Christianity emphasizes the equal status of men and women:

“God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

If every person, regardless of male or female, is created in the image of God, then every person is equally noble and worthy of respect. Upon this foundation of equality, a Christian family has different roles and requirements of husbands and wives:

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—” (Ephesians 5:21-29)

When they see the word “submit”, many women immediately equate it to the “chastity” virtue in Confucianist tradition which denies the independent and noble character of women and stresses the need for women to meekly obey men as a means to achieve virtue. This kind of value turns women off because Confucianism does not make the same requirements of the men, because men and women were never equal in the Confucian worldview. In contrast, the Bible actually requires much more from husbands than wives. This passage in Ephesians contains 55 words related to requirements for women and 96 words for men (74 Chinese characters for women and 142 for men, roughly twice in both languages). If my husband can meet what the Bible requires of him, I feel that to submit to him would be the easiest thing in the world. Who would not want to submit to a husband who will give himself up for me and love me as his own body? And please don’t forget the first sentence, which asks husbands and wives to “submit to one another”!

Although the modern Chinese mother also needs to work, she is not any more idle than her husband. However, the tradition of “man focus on outside of the home, woman focus on inside of the home”(男主外,女主内)places all the responsibilities for home life entirely upon the mother. Raising children is of course inside the realm of the home, so has become the responsibility of the Chinese mother. Paradoxically, the Confucian proverb “the father is to blame for a son’s lack of discipline” is disregarded by most fathers. This means that in actual practice, the head of the house is often not the grandfather or father, but the mother. Also, because everything inside the home is the responsibility of the mother, when mother becomes mother-in-law, she will naturally regard her son as a child who has not yet matured, and will naturally exempt her immature son from the responsibility or expectation to discipline his own children. Also, because she carried everything on her shoulders alone when she was a young mother, she has the same expectation of her own daughter-in-law. Hurt people hurt people.

Chinese mothers need not be so hard on themselves or feel so guilty all the time, because the responsibility to raise children was never hers alone! The Bible places the responsibility for raising a child squarely on the shoulders of both parents, especially on fathers:

“Train up a child in the way he should go,even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Confucianism regards children as the property/belonging of the parents. Therefore, parents have the right of ownership over their children. Christianity regard children as a heritage from God. Therefore, parents have the responsibility to steward this inheritance, but have no right of ownership, because one day they will need to leave their parents to become one flesh with their spouses.

“Children are a heritage from the Lord,offspring a reward from him.” (Psalm 127:3)

“ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

Wives in a Christian home, while recognizing their equal status with their husbands, also accept their roles to be their helpers:

“ The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”” (Genesis 2:18)

A friend asked me, is the helper superior, or the one needing the help? Actually, whether it’s the husband or the wife, we all need the help of God. Therefore the most superior helper is God, not the wife.

2. The Prioritizing of Familial Relationships

Confucianism stresses a hierarchy of relationships in which the ruler guides the subject, father guides the son, and the husband guides the wife (君为臣纲、父为子纲,夫为妻纲). This proverb considers the son to be part of the father’s bloodline, and is therefore the extension of life for this family. Because father and son share blood relations, this bond takes higher priority and importance than the husband-wife bond, which does not share blood relations. A Christian family places highest priority on the husband wiferelationship within the family structure, considering them to be one flesh, and then honoring of parents and parent-child relationship. This is because children will leave their parents to cleave to their spouses, becoming one flesh with them:

“The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;she shall be called ‘woman,’for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:23-24)

After leaving their parents, the husband and the wife are no longer dependent on their parents economically, emotionally, in decision making, and physically (if they are financially able to live separately). The tragedy in many Chinese families, especially in relation to conflicts between the mother and daughter in law, are all due to the inability of the son to leave his mother to become one flesh with his wife.

When Marriage is the Most Important Relationship In the Family

A mother with a Christian worldview will work hard to manage her marriage so that her husband can parent her children alongside her, sharing in the responsibilities of managing the household, as well as the joys and rewards. A wise modern Chinese woman will save time and energy to keep her marriage fresh, not sacrifice the marriage for the children. Not only is this kind of sacrifice poor parenting, but will make it hard for her to give an account before God some day. When both spouses share the responsibility for raising their children, the mother will not need to be so overly responsible, because her husband is leading the family.

When a Family Only Looks Inward to Its Own Needs

Another traditional Confucian concept of “Each man sweeps the snow in front of his door, and does not mind the frost on someone else’s roof” (各人自扫门前雪,莫管他人瓦上霜) leaves children as the center and sole focus of the family. The Bible teaches us to love others as we love ourselves. The Proverbs 31 woman lets us see that a wise woman does not devote all of her time and energies to her own children, but also cares for her environment, community, employees, and neighbors who are in need or in poverty.

“A generous person will prosper;whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Provers 11:25)

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

When our gaze expands from our own needs to our community, city, nation, and the world, we will discover that our own needs are often met. As a result, we will not devote all of our attention to overly manage every micro detail of our children’s lives.

3. The Value and Complementariness of Gender Difference

God created man and woman in His own image, each with its own unique characteristics. Women are more nurturing of the young, while men are more prone to challenge and adventure. A person needs both nurture and challenge for balanced growth, in order not to become a hot house flower or a cold blooded animal without empathy or compassion.

Who Is the Head of the Family?

God also established his order in the family, where the head of the household is not the woman, who is better at nurturing and more empathetic, but the more rational man:

“For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” (Ephesians 5:23)

While this may conjure up Confucian images of the husband being superior to the wife, we have already previously established that this kind of leadership is one of partners of equal status playing complementary roles, with division of functions rather than a hierarchical structure of relationship. This means that the husband and the wife function more like a management team in a home rather than a king over an official the mother who then lords it over the subjects, who are the children.

When a family has a man as the head, children will be able to receive the discipline, training, challenge, and growth that can only come from failures resulting from risk taking. When a man is the head of the house, order from rules and empathy can develop together in parallel. When a man is the head of the house, family members are able to move their gaze outward to serve those around them. This is because the responsibility for raising children is shared together by two mature adults.

When a family is headed by a woman, the protective nurturing instinct takes precedent. Mothers like to rescue their children, because it’s part of their nature. However, the Bible warns us:

“No one can redeem the life of anotheror give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly,no payment is ever enough—” (Psalm 49:7-8)

Mothers are often led by emotions, not reason, and often like to replace Jesus as the savior of their children. I remember once I was struggling with trusting a friend to Jesus, asking why this person was so stubborn. The picture I saw was that I was standing between my friend and Jesus! That was when I finally realized that I was playing the role of savior in her life, preventing her from encountering the salvation of Jesus! How many of us mothers are playing this role of rescuer to our children?

If we are not able to submit ourselves to the leadership of our husbands and Jesus, we might have unwittingly elevated our own statuses to the level of a savior. That’s a scary thought!

4. Security Motivated Rest vs. Insecurity Driven Busyness

The previous 3 panels have already established that Chinese mothers must work very hard to live up to what’s expected of them and their gender role. This hard work is based upon their low worth and the expectation of sacrifice as a virtue. This also means that they are expected to neglect the rest that they need to function properly and healthily. In fact, most Chinese mothers feel guilty when they have nothing to do.

Human beings are designed to require rest. If we do not rest, we will break down. While Confucianism has no ideas or teachings on the necessity of rest, the Bible has a clear command for us to rest once a week. This is the 4thof the 10 commandments, to keep the Sabbath to rest one day a week. Indeed, we will find that if we do not keep the Sabbath, we fall into burnout and enter into complaining and self-pity, losing our ability to reason.

“ “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:12-15)

“Exodus grounds Sabbath in creation. Deuteronomy grounds it in liberation. Exodus remembers Eden, Deuteronomy Egypt. In Exodus, Sabbath-keeping is about imitating divine example and receiving divine blessing. In Deuteronomy, it is about taking hold of divine deliverance and observing divine command. . . One is invitation. The other is warning.”

– p. 87, “The Rest of God” by Mark Buchanan

Mothers who lack rest and get overly tired produce all kinds of negative emotions. These emotions infect and toxify the atmosphere in the home. In her moments of weakness, these emotions can also become used as tools to manipulate and control family members. In the Bible manipulation is compared to the sin of witchcraft and refusal to trust in God:

“But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?To obey is better than sacrifice,and to heed is better than the fat of rams.For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”” (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

When Responsibility Becomes Burdensome and Bitter

Sometimes when we are too overly responsible, and carry everything ourselves, we will feel guilty for not being responsible enough, and will even continue to sacrifice ourselves, leading our actions and words to fall out of alignment.

“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

We feel that we have no choice to say no, but resent being expected to sacrifice and continue giving. We feel our boundaries being disrespected, even violated. This kind of internal conflict spills over in the form of resentment, even bitterness. We begin holding our sacrifice over others expecting something in return.

We need to let our yes be yes and no be no! We need the help of our family and other sisters to help us monitor our emotions, energy levels, and boundaries! If we have enough energy, but are ruled by our emotions, we will give unwillingly. When we serve our family, we need to submit our emotions under our wills, to bring our emotions with thanksgiving to the foot of the cross. If we do not observe Sabbath rest, preserving space and time for ourselves to rest, we need to submit to God and protect our boundaries instead of unwillingly sacrificing ourselves. This way we won’t fall into the trap of self-pity and end up unwittingly manipulating or controlling our loved ones with out negative emotions. Otherwise, when this becomes a habit, we will become the mother-in-law that used to bring us endless anguish. We also need to submit to the leadership of our husbands and Jesus, because their leadership also brings protection.

5. Self-Care Induced Joy vs. Sacrifice Induced Self-Pity

Because Confucian families value women who are meek and obedient, women have no freedom to be or to express themselves. This kind of repression is only possible if they deny who they are and erase their own needs.

In Matthew 12:31, Jesus tells us to love others as we love ourselves. This means that if we do not value and love ourselves, we will not be able to love and value others. When we do not receive love from our heavenly Father, don’t fill up our own tanks by spending time in the Word and in prayer and communion with Jesus, we have no life to overflow onto others around us.

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Wise mothers know to take care of their own bodies, hearts, and spirits, because their bodies are the temple of God.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)

One of God’s gifts to women is that we are rich in emotions. This can be a blessing and a curse. When we are led by our emotions, we sometimes fall into a trap. Recounting the times in the past when I was having my monthly period, and the kinds of trouble brought on by the things I said, I deeply feel a need to keep my emotions in check and manage them instead of allowing them to rule and lead my words and behavior. We need to lead our hearts from our reason, and manage our emotions, words, attitudes, and actions from a foundation of truth.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

A mother is the emotional barometer of her family. If she does not take good care of herself, her service to her family will sooner or later fall into complaining and self-pity, not warmth and unconditional love. The joy that mothers bring from caring for herself well will infect the rest of the family with sunshine and laughter. Self-care is a lesson that mothers must master.

Now that my kids are grown and two are out of the home, and I am increasingly seeing other peers who are dealing with depression from empty nesting, I am seeing how important it is to practice the discipline of choosing joy, rather than letting my negative emotions take over as they sometimes can. Adult children worry about their aging mother. However, when mothers are joyfully living a life that she is expressing gratitude for, adult children then have the freedom to pursue their own dreams and stretch their wings without constantly looking back, worrying about their unhappy mothers. A mother’s unhappiness can be an unhealthy way to keep the children’s attention on them and on pleasing their mothers. However, this kind of attention becomes a burden instead of a blessing to them. The greatest burden we can give to our children is to use our unhappiness and sacrifice-induced self-pity to guilt them into loving us and worrying about us. The best gift we can give them is our joy produced by our discipline in caring for ourselves. Then they are free to love us without any worry or guilt. Saying no, stopping to care for yourself, to rest, is the best sacrifice you can make for your child.

6. Marital Unhappiness: Product of Parental Control? Or Tool?

In a Confucian family, a woman’s value is from extending the family line (传宗接代). When a Confucian woman has no value apart from her identity as a mother, she lives in fear, and can’t help but be driven to control her children to validate her value. This need for control in her quest for validation drives her to neglect or sacrifice her marriage to maintain a tighter sense of control over her children, which then becomes a tool for her to manipulate and control her children even more. This is an exercise in futility, because people are not robots to be programmed or blank pieces of paper to be written on, but seeds that already come programmed with personalities, and tendencies that can only be accepted and understood if one desires a relationship with that person. In fact, the only person we have control over is ourselves, but this is often the person we least want to change.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

The toughest people to control are not others, but ourselves. The last fruit of the Spirit is self-control. When we are too controlling, we are lacking in the fruit of self-control, letting our desires rule over us.

“but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15)

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” (Proverbs 25:28)

Wise mothers know they are weak, and will humbly learn from others who are more mature and have done a good job managing their marriages and homes. She will also seek companions to face challenges and tests together, as well as celebrate their improvements and victories.

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5)

“Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.” (Proverbs 24:6)

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)

A mother who knows how to listen to others, to seek counsel and advice of others, will be wise enough to listen to her children and seek to understand them. This openness to listen is the most needed ingredient for a high quality relationship.

7. She Who Knows Her Identity Laughs At Fear

While a Confucian woman’s main identity is through bearing children, Confucian thought also uses “Women are the Root of Troubled Waters ” (女人祸水论)to define women. This is a rather negative definition. Her worth is entirely based upon other’s evaluation, which is performance based, conditional, and changes often.

Someone who grew up being compared with others to be evaluated for worth has a difficult time understanding their own value. This person will also measure themselves against others out of habit, as well as compare their husbands and children against others’ husbands and children. When someone meets his own Creator and gets to know Him, he will begin to know himself in a brand new way, because his own identity is greatly affirmed and he knows deeply that he is valued for his own uniqueness like no others. When he understands this, he will lose any desire to compare with others, because he is loved completely and unconditionally. This love will overflow onto others around him. Comparison produces fear of not measuring up.

In contrast, the Bible has a different definition of women:

“So God created mankind in his own image,in the image of God he created them” (Genesis 1:27)

Therefore Christian mothers know their value, and how to cherish, admire, and affirm themselves.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

Knowing that we are fearfully and wonderfully made frees us to receive God’s perfect love, which drives out fear of inadequacy or rejection:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18-19)

One who has been redeemed by the blood of Jesus bled from the cross will understand his own inestimable value, and will not become irrational enough to compare himself with others. Only when he has forgotten his own identity and value will he begin to compare himself to others.

8. Who Is In Control?

This last pictograph brings us back around to the beginning. We will end with this first point: who is in control? Christian morality is based upon God, while Confucian morality is based upon man.

When man is in control, we are right to be worried, because sooner or later, no matter how talented, capable, rich, or kind we are, we run smack into our own limitations and the limitations of others, because we are finite beings. When morality is based upon man, it becomes relative, one in which one person has the advantage over another. Whether we are depending on ourselves or another person, we will continue to be anxious about when we will hit up on that limitation, when we or that person will disappoint. This is a terribly uncertain way to live.

When we believe that God is in control, we focus on learning to know and trust an infinite God, one who is infinitely powerful and at the same time infinitely loving. When God is in control, we can relinquish our control, and let Him orchestrate our circumstance for our good.

When a mother knows that the Creator of the universe can love and care for her so much, she can trust Him and feel infinitely secure. This kind of security eliminates the need to worry, but becomes:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

When the heart and the mind are guarded by this peace, there is no longer any more time and space for worry.

Chinese mothers need to understand that the ease and freedom of Western mothers is built upon a foundation where family structure and prevailing culture is based upon Christian values. We can't have ease and freedom on one side without the requirements that this value system makes of fathers and mothers. We can also see the ravages brought upon people who exercise their freedom without bearing the responsibility that accompanies that privilege of freedom, because that kind of freedom is selfish, and does not consider giving. A child needs the sacrifice and care of an adult in order to grow healthily. The tragic predicament of this generation of left behind children is a living testament of what happened when parents are not present and able to sacrifice and care for their children. Is this the kind of society we want? Freedom without responsibility leads to selfishness, and responsibility without freedom leads to repression. Chinese mothers are too repressed. Their minds need to be opened in order to be free. However, if the entire family structure is to be freed, it needs to be built upon the foundation of Christ, or at least a morality that is biblical. The root cause of fatigue in Chinese mothers is not in Chinese or Western parenting methods, but in Confucian or biblical family values.

“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverb 23:7)

“and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32)

So mother, who is in control in your life? God, or a person?

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