As a pastor, I get asked all the time, “How can I make my spouse/significant other/partner better?”
Here’s what I always tell people: Listen, the only way to make your partner better is to let Jesus make you better.” (I’ll tell you right now, that’s not usually what they want to hear.)
Here’s the problem, when we enter into relationships, we sometimes try to take over the Holy Spirit’s job. If you’ve ever tried it, you know that it doesn’t go very well. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but the main one is that the Holy Spirit is actually pretty good at his job. In fact, if you flip through the pages of Scripture, you’ll find a lot of stories of people trying to help God along. It didn’t turn out great for anyone. Fundamentally, this is a trust issue. When we step in there, trying to fix people, we’re ultimately saying that we know better than God.
When it comes to relationships with our partner, we are not supposed to be the convicting Holy Spirit in their life. Instead, we’re supposed to be the companion on their journey. Do you want to see you spouse transformed? Let Jesus transform you. Do you want to be married to someone who is like Jesus? That’s your cue to find out how you could be more like Jesus.
Jesus talks about this very thing when he taught on judgment:
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
When you are in close relationship, you can see all the specks, can’t you? (Don’t worry, they can see yours too.) It’s so easy to want to start that excavation process! But what Jesus is saying is, don’t worry about fixing people. We are the most helpful to those in our lives when we let Jesus do his fixing work in us.
I’m not saying that your spouse is perfect. I’m saying that the best thing you could do for them is to pray for them. When we pray over those we love (especially on those days when our patience is thin), God softens our heart and gives us a glimpse of how he sees them.
When we let the Lord do the work of transformation he wants to do, we’ll start to notice where he’s calling us to level up. As we start to repent for our own issues, something strange starts to happen. We gain a humble heart of compassion. When we’ve walked those hard steps with the Lord, our approach to those around us is totally different. We go to our loved ones in humility and in love. We are able to walk with our partner through the rough patches, not because they’re fixed, but because we believe in the transforming power of Jesus.
What happens then? A beautiful growth that only Jesus could bring.