Changing Others

Today, we will talk about how we shouldn’t try to change others because we can’t. The only person we *can* change is ourselves.

We are all unique, and each person is different from the others. It is what makes us special. This “specialness” is what attracts us to other people. However, as we deepen relationships, we discover they are not quite what we imagined. They do things to annoy us, possess some terrible habits, and have this unpleasant practice of disagreeing with us. Instead of accepting them as they are, we try to change them, leading to friction and often to the end of the relationship.

True, people have faults that need to be corrected, but pointing them out does not bring about change. On the contrary, it makes people resistant to change! They often deny that anything is wrong with them, which will only frustrate us even more. I am sure we have all had experience of this. Whom have we succeeded in changing by pointing fingers?

So, what is the solution? It is love. And one of the main qualities of love is unconditional acceptance. Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). He accepts us unconditionally. Before you start protesting that this isn’t reasonable or practical, I suggest we take a hard look at ourselves. Don’t we have faults? Although we might like to think we don’t, or they aren’t significant, the fact is that we all have things that are majorly wrong with us! We want others to accept us as we are, so why not do to others what we want others to do to us?

How do we exercise this accepting love? One, we let go of our expectations, which very often are unreasonable. Two, we respect individuality. Everyone is different, and each person is entitled to their opinion or ideas. Three, we look at their good side rather than their bad. We often miss out on how wonderful a person is because we focus on their faults and flaws.

Four, we try to understand them. All of us are broken, some more than others. Finding out what caused them to be so broken will make us compassionate instead of condemning. Five, be grateful for them. Despite our flaws, they are sticking with us; we should stick with them despite theirs. Six, remember what drew us to them in the beginning. There was something in them that attracted us before they started repulsing us. Focus on the attraction!

And, finally, the most important. Seven, if we want to change them, we should change ourselves. If they react in a hostile manner because we condemn them, how do you think they will respond if we accept them?

God bless you.

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