When our beloved doesn’t “get it”, doesn’t understand what seems obvious to us, doesn’t do what seems right to do, our natural strategy is to help push things along. Right? But coercion doesn’t solve the problem, not in the long run.
Sure, coercion can make change happen — temporarily. But it actually only makes matters worse. This is why Saint Paul said, “Love never demands its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5).
Of course, our intentions are good. And we might be successful, but only temporarily. True change comes from within. Coercion is an outside force.
Coercion blames our beloved for not cooperating. It uses fear to motivate. Coercion is impossible to live with.
Real change happens when we invite our beloved into a conversation that explores why our proposed change can improve the situation we’re concerned about. We invite our beloved to explore a new option, and we’re willing to give our beloved time to pray about it, mull it over, and research it.
Although we wish our beloved would trust us enough to embrace the changes we propose, without further ado, we respect his/her own unique process of gaining a new understanding.
What if change never happens? Depending on what’s at stake, if it’s important enough, if remaining stuck is detrimental to your relationship and your family, then coercion might be necessary — from outside, professional help, not from you. In this case, that professional help can help you know what to do next to pave the way for change.
Whenever we feel like being coercive, that’s when we need to coerce ourselves to be patient, forgiving, invitational, and prayerfully trusting Jesus to bring his grace into the situation.
- When recently did I try to help my sweetheart change an attitude or understanding or plan? Was I successful in conveying my love?
- When recently did my beloved try to change my mind about something? How open was I to it? Did I resist?
Strengthen your relationship:
Describe how it feels to try to improve a situation and yet be unable to make a difference. Make no judgment about each other’s feelings. They are real. They matter. Explain why your beloved’s feelings matter to you. Then pray for your forgiveness from trying to coerce each other too forcefully, and ask the Holy Spirit to increase your patience.
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© 2018 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries
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