Friday, 14 January 2011

Why Can't You Fix Him / Her?

When a couple finally decides to seek a counselor because their marriage is in disrepair one or the other of the couple usually has the agenda of getting their partner “fixed”. News flash – it’s not going to happen. You can’t change your partner and neither can the counselor. For certain, counseling is about change, but we can only change ourselves and most often we can’t even do that without the power of the Holy Spirit.

In most cases before we seek counseling we have tried to change our partner’s behavior by using intimidation, lecturing, flattering, manipulating, reasoning, cajoling, rewarding or withdrawing. These tactics may work on the outer edges of our partner’s personality but not at the deepest level where change probably needs to occur.

John Ortberg, in his book The Me I Want to Be, provides some insight as to why it might be so hard to fix another person.

In the Old Testament the chief priest was the only person who could enter the “Holy of Holies”. He was the only one who could approach God directly on behalf of the people. Ortberg points out that each of us has our own Holy of Holies, the place where only we and God can meet. Only God can touch the deepest place of our soul and that’s where the change needs to take place.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the well spring of life.” The heart encompasses our minds, emotions, will and soul. Jesus said that all of our actions, words, attitudes and thoughts come from our hearts:
"18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander" Matthew 15:18-19
So it is that if change is to take place it is done by God through the Holy Spirit. Now that doesn’t absolve us of all responsibility to assist in the change process. You see it is through prayer that we have the best chance of influencing people at their deepest level because we can go directly to God. Between us and the inner most part of another person is Jesus. “Dear Lord, stop my husband from being a domineering jerk” or “Dear Lord if nagging is a spiritual gift please take it from my wife.” Most likely God will not be inclined to answer such prayers. However He may very well intercede if you ask “Lord help my husband to seek Godly wisdom in the decisions he makes” or “Dear God enable my wife to help me to become more like your Son.”

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