I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me. Acts 16:2
“I love you, you’re perfect, now change” is the name of a humorous play which is a kind of parody on how we often fall madly in love with someone, think the person is just wonderful, and then strive to remake him or her. Sometimes we nag. Sometimes we cajole, sometimes we manipulate, sometimes we threaten. But it just doesn’t work. It’s a lot like teaching a pig to sing: it annoys the pig and it wastes your time, yet from the days of Adam and Eve to the present we strive to redo the person to whom we are married.
I love you, you’re perfect, now change. That was the mentality of a Yemenite Jew who moved to Israel. As you probably know Yemen is a very primitive country, and when Abe and Sarah arrived in Tel Aviv, they were absolutely aghast at the modern conveniences and things which they had never before seen.
One day, Abe wandered into a high rise in Tel Aviv and saw an old woman, hair covered with a babushka, face a maze of wrinkles, and gnarled hand, one firmly gripping a cane as she made her way into an elevator. Abe stood there spellbound. Never before had he seen an elevator. In moments, the doors of the elevator opened, and out walked a beautiful young thing—at least 40 years younger than the woman who had walked through the sliding doors moments before.
Abe stroked his beard, and with a sly smile did a half-moon between his whiskers. Poking his finger towards the elevator he said, “I think I will send Sarah into that thing!” I love you, you’re perfect, now change.
In all fairness, it isn’t only men who want change. It works on both sides of the gender issue. I often tell brides that there are three words which are on the minds of brides when they marry. One is the aisle—the aisle which she shall float down on her father’s arm. Another is the word altar—the altar where she will kneel. And the third is the word, hymn. You know—the hymn which will be sung at the prayer. And, I suggest, those same words are there after the ceremony, “I’ll alter him,” but they are spelled differently.
I love you, you’re perfect, now change. OK, bottom line. In all honesty, do you find yourself trying to change the one to whom you are married? If you really want change, try these simple guidelines which are guaranteed to work.
Guideline #1: Stop trying to get your mate to change and love ‘em “as is.” Love begins where a person is. Understand that change is the result of God’s Holy Spirit working in a person’s life. There has to be a motive for change, and you’re being on someone’s case isn’t sufficient to affect long term personality changes.
Guideline #2: Strive to be the person God wants you to be. Much of the time we spend so much time and energy getting the other to change that we don’t have time to concentrate on being the person we ought to be. Focus on being the right person, not making the other person right.
Guideline #3: Start praying that God will do His work in the other person’s heart. “My husband’s not a Christian,” I often hear, and I will often ask, “Have you prayed for him, asking God to bring him to Himself?” “Oh, yes!” Then say, “My husband hasn’t yet become a Christian,” reflecting the expectancy you feel in your heart that God has heard your prayer and in His own time will do His work in the other’s heart.
I love you, you’re perfect, now change. It just doesn’t work. But the good news is that we can and do change. As we conform to what God wants, we understand how much we do love the other person, and then strive to please the one whom we love. I love you. You’re perfect. Now let’s grow together and change as God works in our lives. That’s the better way.
Resource reading: Ephesians 5:21-33