Sometimes something appears at a time that you need to hear it the most. Sometimes you want so badly to save someone from themselves that it is very hard to acknowledge they can only be saved if they want to be.
We can plant seeds but usually, someone else will be the one to water them. If we are fortunate, we may see that seed germinate and grow. And sometimes, a person will never take the active responsibility to pursue a change in their life.
The One that can change a person is God. He provides opportunity, the planters and the waterers but ultimately, it is up to that person to open their hearts to change.
So, you wonder just what you can do? You can plant or water and you can love them, even when they are unlovable. Sometimes though, you have to just step back and breathe. Pray hard and often, interceding on their part but not breaking yourself.
Ultimately, they are the ones who will have to face the consequences of their choices. Do what you can then rest in the knowledge that you did all you could do. And always:
Most of us would agree that it isn’t really possible to change another person. But then we get placed in a situation where not doing so seems to contain realities too harsh to bear . . . so we exhaust ourselves trying to do the impossible.
Trying to change another person will only lead to maddening frustration both for you and the other person, though. Trust me, the people who you think need to change the most will wind up changing the least when your efforts are greater than their own.
Why? Because true heart change? A lasting transformation? If the other person doesn’t personally pursue it, they’ll never be able to keep choosing better behaviors for themselves. And the minute you let them out of your cage of control, they’ll get worse, not better. And not only will they get worse, but so will the situation and, even more tragic, so will you.
Please don’t miss that last statement. When you empty all your emotional, physical, financial, or relational resources to help another person who doesn’t want to be helped, you will become more and more unhealthy in the process. The more you allow their actions to cost you, the greater the debt will be that you eventually have to forgive.
This situation has already cost you enough, sweet friend. If you keep handing over more and more, it will be the most draining experience of your life. In the end, you will have used up everything you have and find yourself crying in a heap of frustration at best, devastation at worst. It truly is one of the most heartbreaking moments of anyone’s life when they have to release a loved one to the consequences of their own choices. But it’s also the only chance that either of you have to get any better. And it’s the only shot you have at staying healthy enough to walk the road of forgiveness.
Where the limitless grace of God provides a way for all to be forgiven, the truth of God provides appropriate parameters so that wrong behavior can be addressed. And one of the wisest things we can do today may be to ask Him where boundaries need to be established with equal measures of mercy and tough love.