The other day I saw this quote: "If at first you don't succeed, then maybe you should do it the way I told you to in the beginning." That's funny.
But lying beneath that quote, there's a misconception we often live by: that all the people in my life who are doing the wrong thing would be fixed if only I--or somebody--would tell them the right thing to do.
But change is so much more than instilling accurate information.
What's really needed is a change of heart. You gotta wanna.
And I don't know any way to change the heart of another person. Usually my own heart is more than I can deal with.
This is a good news, bad news situation.
First, the bad news. I can't finagle a way to make other people do the right thing. I can't talk them into change. Or control them into it. Or cry them into it. Or nice them into it. Or even (as a Good Christian Woman) submit them into it. It's really up to them. I can make an offer. That is all.
Now the good news.
When I stop trying to pick the splinter out of everybody else, I'll finally notice the log that's lodged in me. Initially this is not a fun part of the process. It's so much more entertaining to be distracted by the misdeeds of others. But (and if I say this often enough, maybe I'll finally get it) the truth sets you free. Most especially, free to receive grace.
I believe that grace, combined with truth, is the only thing that can change our hearts.
The Cross means that there is grace for me in place of judgement, so it's safe for me to face the truth. To admit what's wrong and ask for help.
And the more I receive grace, get in touch with my wrong-doing, and turn it over to God to deal with, the more He deals with it.
And the more He deals with it, the more redemption I see in my own life.
And the more redemption I see in my own life, the more hope I have for all the people around me who are being crazy for no good reason.
I start to believe that God might make a way where there seems to be no way.
I start to see that Amazing Grace is amazing because it's amazing. It makes no sense. It's out of our control. It extends to all of us.
Even to those who would be so much better off if they'd just listened to us in the first place.