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you can't change anyone but yourself

November 13, 2017

Mike and I met in a bar when I was just a teen and he was fresh out of the military. Both babies really. The moment I saw him, I knew he was the one.  I came home that night and told my family that I had met my man.  I was sure I was wildly in love and that we were ready for our happily ever after. 


We got married three years later.  And then like most young couples do, we crashed. We went to marriage counselor after marriage counselor that told us time and time again, I'm sorry. There really isn't any hope for you two.  Might as well turn the lights out. Shows over.  Y'all are hopeless.  No one believes me when I say this, but even a Baptist preacher looked straight at me and said, There is no hope.  Might as well move on.  Before he said that, the deacon who married us even said ON. OUR. WEDDING. DAY.  "Well, we'll see how long this one last."  It felt like in a voice that was assuming it wouldn't. It felt like a huge kick in the gut. I'm sure he didn't believe in us either, and in hindsight, he had good reason not to. 


So what was the big problem? There wasn't one. I'm sure you're probably thinking infidelity and all sorts of other crazy thoughts.  Nope.  None of that. I just needed him to change a little smidgey bit to become who I wanted him to be and he just needed me to change a smidgey bit to become who he needed me to be and then we could both be happy. But we spent years and years and years using all the wrong strategies to try to change each other. I'd even pray to God, please, please please just let this boy become who I need him to be.  Then we'll all be happy! 


We both tried every human strategy under the sun to change the other person. Yelling. Screaming. Crying. Silent treatment. Walking out. Hate-texting! Threatening. Counseling - I mean come on.  Surely there is another human being out there as smart as me who can get him/her to see MY way, right? 


Nope. None of that worked.  It all only exasperated the problems. It kept us in the crazy cycle that Emerson Eggrichs talks about in the book Love and Respect


Want to know how to change someone?


Love them.  Jesus preaches about it all through the Bible, but sadly, most of us read that Bible and think....SEE!!! SEE!!!!   That's what YOU need to do!  If YOU would just LOVE ME like He commands, we could both be happy, but since you aren't loving me right,  we can't be Happy. It's YOU. YOU are the problem. 


I see this same story play out every day in all kinds of relationships.  It sounds like this...


If my mom would just....

If my dad would just....

If my in-laws would just....

If my spouse would just...

If my colleagues would just...

If my neighbor would just....

If my friend would just....

If my daughter/son would just....


Then I could be HAPPY. 


The problem is, You can't change anyone by trying to change them.


You don't have that power. 


You DO have the power to change how you Love them.  For exactly who God created them to be. All their faults and failures. Even if they do ________ or don't do_________.


If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you might think.... Rhonda got the jackpot family. Rhonda got the Best kids and the best husband and family and friends and teachers and blah blah blah. 


I've got all of the exact same kind of people in my life that you have got in your life. All wildly imperfect.  Just like me! I've got people who really do love me like crazy and other people who'd probably like to shove me off a cliff and celebrated my death!  I try to love them all the same.  


Other's may say, How can you be so blind? Ignorant? Don't you see the flaws of all these people that you claim to be so in love with?  Yes.  I do. Of course I do. I just choose to Love and Respect people for who they are. To look for the good. To appreciate other people's good qualities and let go of the ones I wish I could change.  I'm more focused on how I can love other people instead of worrying so much about how they are or are not loving me. 


I'm not waiting on anyone else to change to make me happy. 


My Joy comes from how I love others, (which is what Jesus commanded us to do)  not how they love me. 


My focus with our marriage is, How can I love Mike well?  How can I help him? I ask him all of the time, "How can I help you? What do you need? How can I love you better?" which is a huge change from our old conversations which mostly sounded like "You can't do anything to please me. When are you going to change x,y,and z so that I can start to love you more? Or respect you at all.


 When I stopped trying to change everyone, and started loving people for who they are, they all started becoming  who God created them to be, which is SO much better and greater than what I was trying to force them to become in the first place! 





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