As a woman I have been told many times not to think I can change a man. You have to love a man as he is, not for the potential you see in him, thinking you can change him. And this is very true. Because men won’t change – especially in the way a woman wants to change a man to be a better partner to meet their needs. But this is not just limited to romantic relationships.
As humans, I think we see a better of version of the people around us. We can see the flaws holding someone back. And while you can always feel free to share these ideas with a loved one, we must be careful how it will be received.
I was married to an alcoholic. I saw all kinds of ways our life could be better, different, happier… if he’d just stop drinking a case of beer every night. But in the end, I had to accept that this is who he was. It was not my job to change or fix him. That is his job. And the truth is, I think there are moments he grieves things he’s lost because of his lifestyle, including our marriage. But I also think he finds a form of contentment living out his life without constantly being nagged about the choices he makes.
Our journey to be better versions of ourselves is ours alone. Others we meet on that path may point out things – but not in the way we might expect. Rather, others are mirrors, showing us where we need to work, grow, heal. How you judge others is often exactly where you need to do the work. I can look into the mirrors around me and decide if I want to accept and embrace what I see, or do I want to make a change? But no one outside of me has a right to force me to move away from who I am authentically.
So, as you look at the things you don’t like in those around you… their shortcomings, their blocks, their unpopular behaviors or personality characteristics – rather than suggesting your partner, friend, or even the guy who cut you off on your commute, needs to change – look inside at the ways you might change to be a better person, first. Then, encourage your friends and partners to join you on an adventure towards healing and growth.
But don’t be hurt when the response you get is “but this is who I am. And if you don’t like it then I guess you can move along, because I’m not changing.” And don’t be surprised, if someone does join you on that path, if their healing doesn’t look like you think it should. Let them do their work, and you stay focused on your own.
It’s that, deal with the log in your eye before you try to remove the spec from another’s that Jesus talked about.
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