Natalie grew up in Germany with her two brothers and her mom. Her family moved around a lot, and her performance in school started to suffer as a result. She couldn’t keep up, and she eventually started to skip class.
Her rebellious nature even landed her in foster care. However, when Natalie was still a vulnerable teenager, she moved out to live on her own and started working.
Growing up without a father in her life, she felt like she had to appear strong and tough. She wore boys’ clothes and had a short, dyed haircut with nose, ear, and lip piercings.
“I felt I was strong and wanted to show it,” she told Minghui.org. “As a matter of fact, I didn’t feel safe, and worried that I would be hurt. I have witnessed domestic violence, and was worried that it would happen to me someday. I was especially worried about being hurt by men. I didn’t think there was any safe place in the world.”
At 16 years old she started drinking and smoking. She didn’t care much about anything and felt completely lost. But deep down she knew that there must be something more to life than just her daily struggle.
“I often asked myself why life was like this, and what’s the meaning of life. Hardship and frustration can’t be everything in life. There must be a reason. I was sure of it,” Natalie said.
Not unlike many people, she thought life was just about making money and having a good time. She couldn’t see the benefit of helping others or working hard, but neither did she intentionally want to be a bad person.
“Like many people of my age, I never thought that being a good person should be my goal, because it just did not make any sense. I thought that it would be enough to not be a bad person,” she said.
But that thought about the meaning of life kept nagging at her, and in her spare time she would search for answers.
One day in April, 2010, Natalie came across a website for a Chinese spiritual practice called Falun Dafa. She learned that it consisted of five meditative exercises and followed the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
She also found out that Falun Dafa practitioners in China have been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party since 1999 because of their beliefs, and they have faced imprisonment, torture, and even death.
She asked herself, “Where did this group of people find the courage to face such a cruel persecution? I couldn’t imagine that anyone could stay firm in one’s belief and display such courage and power!”
Intrigued, she read the introductory book China Falun Gong, then read the main book of teachings, Zhuan Falun. It had a profound effect on her outlook on life.
“Mystery solved,” Natalie said. “Everything made sense. I immediately realized what I had found. No word can describe my excitement! I found that the meaning of life is to follow truthfulness, compassion and forbearance and be a good person.”
Finding the answer to her question lifted the heavy weight she had been carrying.
“The stress on my heart was gone! I felt so relaxed! It’s true that life has a purpose!” she said.
“Many people have asked this question, but quit looking for it. We accepted what society had told us, ‘Live a better life. Enjoy everything. Gratify your body’s needs.’ After reading the Dafa books, I immediately knew that truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance are the correct answers to my questions. This is the kind of person I want to be.”
She took those principles to heart and immediately saw changes in her life. She became optimistic and outgoing. The relationship with her mom became harmonious, and she started to think of others before herself.
“My mom is so happy with my change. She often tells our family and friends that her daughter became a responsible young woman after practicing Falun Dafa,” she said.
“I used to laugh when I saw that other people were in trouble, such as tripping over something or bickering with each other. After I started cultivating, I could let go of negative thoughts. I stopped picking and choosing house chores at home and at work. I continued to be kind to those who didn’t treat me well. I also have positive thinking when I run into difficulties. It’s a feeling I never had before!”
When someone made up rumors about her, instead of getting angry and arguing with the person like she would have done in the past, she felt sorry for them instead, realizing they must have said those things because they were feeling angry or hurt.
“I realized it was a test of my character, so I wasn’t bothered. I was sympathetic,” she said. “I’m so happy I could handle it rationally.”
Natalie is sure that if she had not found Falun Dafa she might have ended up in prison or worse. She is no longer afraid, and seven years later she is a confident young woman.
“I don’t hold any fear as I did before and feel protected when I follow the principles. … I feel safe every day. I’m so fortunate.”