We all want to change people. Sometimes it’s a passing feeling, but most frequently it starts to invade our lives…a desperate desire to change someone we love.
Having been married over 20 years and with 10 children, I have learned a few things about how to change people.
1. The Tevye principal
The Tevye principal comes from the movie Fiddler on the Roof. When Tevye has a problem with himself, he struggles to change. When he has a problem with others…he prays. Then he chooses again and again to leave it in God’s hands.
Because nothing works. Perhaps this isn’t what you expected for a “how to” column. But it is true. Absolutely nothing works. Nothing. We cannot change anyone else. It’s impossible. The sooner we accept that the better.
The only person we can change is ourselves. Start there. Change yourself. Change your desire to change other people! Focus on what you need to do. We all know our own weaknesses. It’s not easy and we have plenty to do. It’s the beam in our own eye. It’s a way to recognize just how hard it is to change. Sometimes we attempt to change other people to avoid facing our own complex issues. It is easier to focus on the tiny part of the iceberg we see, instead of the iceberg under the water we know about ourselves.
Nothing works. Only God and that individual can work out change. Focus on changing yourself and leave everything else in God’s hands. He created the world, he can handle this.
2. Lean in to your own inspiring mission.
Do not try to inspire others…just lean in to your own mission, your own unique purpose in life.
Sometimes we use our desire to fix others as an excuse to stop doing the hard, wonderful things we need to do. To fix other people’s lives we can pretend one comment on the internet is enough, or a conversation. To lean into our own mission we may need everything we have and are. We may need our free time, our play time, our pride and our attitudes…all to be sacrificed. We may need to make some massive decisions and changes.
It may put us out of our comfort zone. It may not be what we anticipated your life to be like. It may not be popular. But it will be amazing. You are an adult, do the hard, right thing, not the easy thing.
3. Learn to love people as they are.
Sometimes when we begin our missions, we feel a bit lonely. We wish people would join us. We wish people would start working on their own missions.
Focus on the good. If it’s your husband focus on why you fell in love in the first place. Focus on every positive thing they do. Choose to fall in love again. Forgive them. Let them work out their lives with God, just as you need to. Love them because God already does, and he knows more about them than you do.
If it’s your child, catch them being good. Most children do what their parents notice. If they are acting out for attention, give them attention for good. Look hard for any little thing they do right. Anything. Not to make them do it more, but because they are amazing people doing wonderful things. Try to understand them. Consider how drastically different they may be than you. Love them as they are. Reconsider their interests, even the things you don’t like. Find some common ground.
I know it’s difficult. I know watching someone make choices that may be devastating and lasting in their lives is so it’s heartbreaking. I know some choices made so early can be so life changing. I know it hurts so much.
We will all only be able to work out our lives with God. Nothing else works. Love is our best option for putting them in a place in which they may change. Love is our best option for feeling peace and hope ourselves. Love is our best option for recognizing what God really feels for those around us.
I find it fascinating that Jesus heals the blind and the lepers, He walks on water, He fed 5,000. He fixed people throughout his life. BUT He left people be until they wanted to change. His disciples made countless mistakes. He let them. His parents made mistakes. He honored them. He even left Judas to be…Judas. He loved him anyway.
Britt grew up in a family of six brothers and one sister and gained a bonus sister later. She camped in the High Sierras, canoed down the Colorado, and played volleyball at Brigham Young University. She then served a mission to South Africa. With all of her time in the gym and the mountains and South Africa, she was totally prepared to become the mother of 2 sons and soon to be 9 daughters. By totally prepared she means willing to love them and muddle through everything else in a partially sleepless state. She is mostly successful at figuring out how to keep the baby clothed, or at least diapered, though her current toddler is challenging this skill. She feels children naturally love to learn and didn’t want to disrupt childhood curiosity with worksheets and school bells. She loves to play in the dirt, read books, go on adventures, watch her children discover new things, and mentor her children. Her oldest child is currently at a community college and her oldest son is going to high school at a public school. She loves to follow her children in their unique paths and interests. She loves to write because, unlike the laundry and the dishes, writing stays done. Whenever someone asks her how she does it all she wonders what in the world they think she’s doing.