It started off as a joke, really, but I soon understood the Lord was taking me on a journey.
Remember the story of the woman at the well in Samaria? Yes, the one Jesus spoke to in John 4. Verses 2 and 3 read,
He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria.
In reality, He did not need to by necessity, for there was a direct route to Galilee, but He needed to by compulsion. Just as He was led into the wilderness “to be tempted of the devil” in Matthew 4, there was something He needed to do in Samaria. Samaria was a point in the journey, it was not the destination.
And this is exactly where I am today, this very moment, in Samaria. No, I am not saying I am personally going through a journey; on the contrary, I want to take you on one. We will go through Samaria (just for a few minutes/ paragraphs) before entering Galilee.
Follow me, it will all make sense. This introduction was Judea.
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My (prodigal) friend Deji *side-eye* and I were chatting on BB, and he jokingly said that most of the guys I admired on “Bearded and Black” (as referred to on the previous My Obsession post) weren’t straight. However, “a real woman could change anyone”. Guess it was meant to be a challenge *yawn*.
“Could change anyone?” Why is it people- and especially women- still believe this? Why do we like to believe we possess the powers to change men? Why do we even want to change them? It’s funny, to me, you see, because I naturally think, “Okay, so God could not change him, but I think I can?” Or let’s not even think that far, let’s stay within the home: the mother! So, his mother could not change/improve him, but I will? And what makes me think he needs changing anyway? Why must the “wrong” be on his part; has it not occurred to us that maybe, yes, just maybe, as a matter of possibility, we might just be the ones in need of a “make-over”?
Anyway, going back, so not everyone on Bearded & Black was straight. Accepted. And, I want to break it to you today: Not everyone in your circle of friends is probably either! Yes, this was a bombshell I needed to drop. Not everyone is straight. Oh, I mean heterosexual. Oh, don’t get me wrong: most are definitely straight (unless your move within rather unconventional circles), but some of those you think are straight, are probably just pretending to be (for fear of being judged, ostracized, annihilated, etc.), and then, just a handful are probably not sure about their sexual orientation themselves. But the point remains: the probability of every single friend or acquaintance you have being 100% straight is close to 0. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me, I am not a LGBT activist, a supporter of homosexuality, or coming out of the closest here, I am none and doing neither! All I am saying is that you cannot always choose the “kind of people” who will be your friends or family members. You cannot always influence people to go the right (or your) way, or expect them to decide to put God’s will above theirs. In an ideal world we would all love and fear and obey God (yes, believe me, it is possible to do one or even two, without the third), but we are all fallen.
I recently (just today, actually) made a compelling realization and was shocked at how naive/ ignorant I have been. I looked at myself and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.. how could I have not seen it all this while? How could I be so blind about it? The signs were there all along. But I am glad I’m still in his/her life; and (by the grace of God) I will continue to be.
The story of Jessica, one of The Virgin Girls (fwd to 18:00 and watch until 32:00- if you have time and bandwidth) hurt me especially, seeing as “all she did was have sex and get pregnant”. But this is not even where I am going; what hurt me was the sad fact that her confession destroyed her relationship with her parents. In Jessica’s own words,
Everything changed. They treated me as a lesser person, and still do.
That is why people don’t open up. Not just for fear of being judged or punished, but for fear of loosing love! And that exactly is the problem: above all, we have been commissioned to LOVE. On this hang all the laws and the prophets (Matt. 23:38-40). Owe no man anything but LOVE (Romans 13:8).
Perfect love has the power to transform people. Not into what you would have them be, but what God Himself would have them be!
This was Samaria. Now onto Galilee..
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Alright, so I think I’ve mentioned my love for the book Fascinating Womanhood: How The Ideal Woman Awakens A Man’s Deepest Love And Tenderness (by Helen Andelin) before. I like it because it’s a classic, an easy read, packed with analogies and examples, and really simply true. I can relate to many of the points made, agree with most of them, and find just how I might have fallen short in previous relationships. I read, I learn. That’s what I like: the application of the truths found within these pages has the power to transform and improve a woman and her relationship(s).
In part 1 chapter 3, the author speaks about Accepting Him: At Face Value. Although she typically refers to wives and husbands, I believe it holds true for most human-relationships.
“If you want a happy marriage,accept your husband at face value and do not try to change him.”
What Does Acceptance Mean?
Acceptance means you accept your husband for the man he is today, with no changes. You realize his conduct could be better, and probably should be better, but this is his responsibility, not yours. You observe his weaknesses, but count them as human frailties. You may not agree with his ideas, but allow him the right to his own viewpoint. You may not fully approve of his interests, dreams or lack of dreams, but allow him the freedom to pursue them as he will. In accepting him, you are accepting his right to be himself.
Acceptance does not mean tolerance, that you put up with him. Nor does it mean dishonesty, that you deceive yourself into thinking he is perfect when he is not. Nor is it a matter of resignation. Acceptance is a happy state of mind when you realize that your responsibility is not in making him over but in accepting him for the man he is.
Acceptance means that you recognize him as a human being who, like yourself, is part virtue and part fault. This is an honest look. You realize that his faults exist, but focus on the virtues. You accept the total man with all of his potential goodness and all his human frailties.
What Faults Do Men Have That Women Try To Change?
In discovering how you may be violating this principle, take a careful look at the general review of men’s faults:
- Personal habits: poor eating habits, bad table manners, neglect of appearance, poor spelling, choice of clothing, temper, moods, orderliness, smoking, drinking, etc.
- How they spend their time: at work, in front of the TV, with friends, too little time in church, fails to come home on time, fails to call you regularly, etc.
- Duties: neglects home duties, late with paying bills, lazy and irresponsible, etc.
- Social behaviour: brags too much, talks too much/little, careless or loud in conversation, not enough charm, too “street”, doesn’t choose friends his wife can accept, etc.
- Desires and dreams: has no ambition, has too much drive, is too focused, is not focused enough, lacks confidence, is too arrogant, let’s good opportunities pass him by, has dreams that are too risky/ out of his reach, etc.
- Manly qualities: is not masculine enough, worries too much, too soft on the children, fails to lead the family, does not exercise enough, etc.
- Money: doesn’t earn enough, doesn’t manage money well, spends foolishly, doesn’t save enough, is stingy, does not consult his wife before spending large amounts, etc.
- Neglect of children: ignores the children, doesn’t play with them enough, complain about normal noise, doesn’t play his part as a father, etc.
- Religion: won’t attend church (enough), isn’t religious enough, won’t listen to religious ideas, etc.
How do you react to your husband’s faults? Do you accept them or do you set out to change him, as most women do.
Why You Try To Change Him
(1) For Your Own Good
You may try to change your husband because his faults get on your nerves, create distressing problems, or deprive you of some of the things you want or deserve. If he would only change, you say, your life would be better, happier. Review your husband’s faults to see if this is true. If he changed, would your life be more pleasant? Would you eliminate some problems, or have more comforts, money, material goods, prestige or benefits yourself? Your desire for these things can prompt you to try to change him.
(2) For His Own Good
You care about his comfort and happiness, you want him to be successful and get the best out of life, so you set out to change him for his own good. You may have begun marriage by making a list of his faults, thinking it your duty to improve him. Is it your duty? Are you responsible for making your husband into the man he ought to be?
Why You Should NOT Try To Change Him
(1) It Creates Discord
Even though you set out to remake your husband with the best of intentions, it can create problems with serious consequences. No matter how carefully worded your suggestions, he will likely respond with resistance, resentment, and even anger. If you pressure him to change, you can awaken the monster in him and enrage his feelings. This can lead to conflict and serious arguments. In turn, you may respond with frustration and even tears, “What did I do wrong? Why did my husband react so violently?” Children too suffer when they sense discord between their parents. [Note: I have not forgotten to spend some time talking about The Family. This is all part of it, in my very next post, I will throw more light on precisely this.]
Another problem is in regard to his feeling of security. A man expects his wife to be the one secure haven where he can relax, be himself, and feel secure. The realization that your are dissatisfied with him threatens his feeling of security, just as you would feel insecure if you felt he didn’t love you. This can unhinge him, destroying hope and incentive to strive.
(2) It Cools His Feelings
Any attempt to change your husband can dampen his feelings for you. Even only an implication that he doesn’t measure up to your standards can cool his attitude. Your open suggestion that he needs to improve can lead to his rejection of you. This can be the beginning of a break in communication which can last for hours or even days. He may avoid the situation by spending a great amount of time away from home with his friends, or in other interests or pursuits.
Not only can love be cooled, in some cases it can be destroyed. When a wife doesn’t give her husband the freedom to be himself, when she constantly pushes and nettles him to change, it can cause the destruction of a healthy and happy marriage.
(3) It Can Cause Rebellion
Pressing a man to change can often bring out a streak of rebellion in him. This is due to his effort to preserve his freedom to be himself. Men cherish their freedom, it is precious to them. They will sometimes reject the very thing they want (to have/do) rather than be pressed into it.
(4) It Doesn’t Work
You might as well give up trying to improve your husband because it does not work. Hints, carefully worded suggestions, or even pressures won’t change him.
Some women claim credit for their husband’s improvement. They pressured him to change and finally he did. Don’t let this deceive you. His improvement wasn’t due to her persuasion, but a motivation she may not know about. Someone else might have talked to him, he might have overheard or read something, or found inspiration outside the home. It might have been a flash of insight that opened his eyes and prompted him to see the folly of his ways. Yes, he changed, but he might have changed much sooner without her push.
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How far do you agree with this? Is there such a thing as finding a healthy balance between accepting someone and trying to improve (change with a positive twist) him? Is it ever OK (acceptable or indeed desirable) to push someone to change? I’m sure we’ve all had our own fair share of Project Make-X-Over. Is it something women are more prone to than men?