Tomorrow Will Be a Better Day

By Chen Su-fen (陳夙雰)
Abridged and translated by Kim Ning (甯素青)

Tomorrow Will Be a Better Day

By Chen Su-fen (陳夙雰)
Abridged and translated
by Kim Ning (甯素青)

Many years ago, a fortuneteller told me, "Your name, Su-fen (夙雰), is bad for your destiny. You should change your name." A few years later, I ran into that fortuneteller and he asked me, "Did you change your name?" I said to him, "No, I didn't change my name, but I've changed my destiny."

Ever since I had memory, my father drank, gambled and constantly quarreled with and beat my mother. Because of that, my mother was very distressed and often ran away from home, leaving us four children behind with no one looking after us. As I am the oldest, even though I was only seven or eight years old at the time, I had to cook and prepare lunch boxes for my siblings whenever my parents disappeared.

Chen Su-fen (left) patiently guided her father (center), Chen Zhi-ping, and both of them are now certified Tzu Chi volunteers.

My father had no intention to change his way at all. Worse comes to worst, he had affairs with other women and even turned our home into a gambling house. One time, a woman showed up at our doorstep with a child who she claimed was my father's. Eventually, my mother couldn't take it any longer and divorced my father.

After graduating from junior high school, I first worked at a garment factory and then a breakfast chain restaurant. As I had to drive to the restaurant's office to get bread regularly, a friend of my sister's asked me to give her a ride to a TV station where she'd have a screening test for an actor training program. As luck would have it, I also took the test and passed!

After the training program came to a close, I started my acting career. The first time I got my pay, I was overjoyed because it was way much better than my wage at the breakfast restaurant.

I played in several TV drama series and soon became quite well-known. At 25, I was already the bread earner of my family. However, most of my money was gambled away by my father. One time, as soon as I stepped out of the TV station, I was cornered and taken away by several big men. They asked me to clear my father's debts with them or they'd make sure that I could never act again for the rest of my life. I quickly borrowed money to pay them as it was much more than I could afford. After they left, I collapsed on my knees weeping.

Chen Su-fen often shares her story with others, hoping to encourage those facing life’s challenges not to give up.

The year 1999 was the turning point of my life. That year, I was invited to act in a drama series produced by Da Ai TV (大愛電視) under Tzu Chi (慈濟). After crossing path with Tzu Chi, my life has never been the same again.

One time, a Da Ai Drama director asked me if I could play a nun in a TV series. The only condition was that I had to shave my head. I had thought about becoming a nun when I felt utterly devastated after my sister committed suicide due to postpartum depression. So I was grateful for the opportunity and agreed immediately.

As the nun I played is a senior monastic disciple of Dharma Master Cheng Yen (證嚴上人), almost all my lines were the Master's teachings. As I was memorizing my lines, the Master's words were etched into my mind and I came to realize how full of compassion and wisdom the Master is.

When my sister passed away, Tzu Chi volunteers helped with her funeral arrangement and my father was very moved and grateful. So I encouraged my father to help with Tzu Chi's recycling work as a way to repay Tzu Chi. He did and gradually, he smoked, drank and gambled less and less. Eventually, he closed his gambling house and turned it into a vegetarian restaurant.

Chen Su-fen is the hostess of Guardian of the Land, a program produced by Da Ai TV to honor Tzu Chi’s recycling volunteers.

In 2004, I decided to attend Tzu Chi's volunteer training program so I could become a Tzu Chi commissioner. At the time, I was often invited to share my story at Tzu Chi's events and my father would come along with me whenever he could. Later, he also attended the training and is now a certified Tzu Chi volunteer like me. I used to resent my father and swore that I'd never be his daughter again in my next lives. Now, seeing how he has changed, I am really comforted and happy.

In 2006, I became the hostess of a Da Ai TV program about Tzu Chi's recycling volunteers. I traveled around Taiwan to interview the recycling volunteers and as long as time allowed, I'd meet and share my story with the locals at Tzu Chi's gatherings. One time, after my sharing, a volunteer called to tell me that my talk had saved four lives. It turned out that a pregnant woman found out that her husband had an affair, so she had purchased pesticide and prepared to take it with her two kids and end their lives. But after hearing my story, she found the courage to move on. When I heard that, I felt emotional and relieved at the same time. I hope to tell those who encounter difficulties in life that no matter what happens, tomorrow will be a better day.

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