Li-Yan, a Chinese a woman, got married and went to live with her husband and mother-in-law.
Soon, however, Li-Yan found that she couldn’t get along with her mother-in-law at all. They have very different personalities. What annoyed her the most was her mother-in-law’s habit of criticizing her.
Day after day, Li-Yan and her mother-in-law continued arguing. An ancient Chinese tradition requiring Li-Yan to bow in front of her mother-in-law and obey her wishes worsens their situation.
When finally, Li-Yan had enough of her mother-in-law’s attitude, she went to see a herb-man and asked for some poison. The herb-man listened to her situation and said, “Li-Yan, I will help you solve your issue with your mother-in-law, but you must do everything that I will tell you.”
He went inside and returned with a pack of herbs. He told Li-Yan, “You can’t use a quick-acting poison to get rid of your mother-in-law, because that would invite a lot of suspicions. These herbs will slowly build-up poisons in her body. Every other day prepare a delicious meal and put a little of these herbs in each serving. Now, to avoid suspicions, don’t argue with her, obey her every wish, and treat her like your own mother.”
Li-Yan was so excited that she cooked her mother-in-law’s favorite meal immediately upon arriving home. She put some of the herbs secretly, of course. Her mother-in-law was a bit surprised but didn’t say a thing.
Day after day, Li-Yan served the poisoned food to her mother-in-law. She also tried her best to control her temper, obey her wishes and treat her like a queen. After a few months, the whole situation had changed.
Li-Yan‘s mother-in-law now seemed to be so much kinder to her. Arguments have ceased and they became as close a real mother and daughter could have ever been.
This prompted Li-Yan to stop using the poison on her mother-in-law’s foods.
However, her mother-in-law’s health seems to falter each day.
Li-Yan was so devastated and regretful to have done this to the woman who became like a mother to her. She went to the herb-man one day to ask him to detoxify the poison. The herb-man’s next statement shocked Li-Yan:
“There’s nothing to detoxify because you haven’t use any poison. Those are herbs to improve her health. The only poison was in your mind and your attitude toward her, but that has been all washed away by the love that you showed her. Your mother-in-law was a long-time customer of mine and I know that she suffers from a rare disease. That herb helped extend her life but in reality, we all have to die someday. The most important thing is that you were able to make her happy during her final moments.”
Love begets love. If we will show genuine love to others, they will do the same for us. Let us strive to do this now because life is but “a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).