Some people just want to be unhappy.
They will latch on to you. Out of compassion, you try to meet their needs. Somehow the bucket never fills. They are still unhappy. Their conversation is a litany of complaint, woe, and frustration. In response to every suggestion they will explain why it won’t work. Their favorite word is “but”. After half an hour in their presence you feel drained.
No matter what you do, they will still be unhappy. You will try to change them. And you will fail.
The attempt to change another person is the fantasy that we are the savior – that we can write others in as minor characters in our own epic drama. We indulge the fantasy that we can pull people into orbit around our wise influence, and they will be better for it. We think we are the lifeguards pulling people to shore. We want to shape people in our own image as a mature, together Christian disciple.
We’re not that good. Really.
And anyway, some people just want to be unhappy. If you try to change them, you will in fact be cast as a minor character in the internal drama of which they are the star. You will become a satellite in orbit around their planet. You will be caught in a riptide, dragged out to sea.
Deep down, below the realm of reason and logic, the unhappy person want to shape people in their own image, too. They don’t just want you to listen to their unhappiness and their anger — they want you to share in it. They want you to be unhappy and angry with them. They want you to sit in the ashes with them.
Even deeper down, they hope that you won’t be changed by them. They hope can rescue them.
The only rescue comes from Christ, personally reaching out to revive their soul.
Make no mistake, Christ delights in using us as his instruments in his process of healing. We can offer words of comfort, encouragement, and support. We can be physical arms offering embrace. We can meet tangible needs. Yes, we can help in many different ways.
But when we try to save somebody, we go beyond being an instrument. We put ourselves in the position of Christ. When we determine to save somebody, we take it upon ourselves that we have the capacity to revive their soul through our actions. And in the process, we make that other person’s unhappiness into an idol. We unwittingly make ourselves prisoners to their unhappiness.
We must remember that we may plant, and others may water – but it is only God who gives the growth.
Do we dare have the courage to so trust in God’s sovereignty that we can let others be miserable, if they demand it? Do we dare love someone without trying to save them from their own imprisonment? Can we enter into relationship without having an endgame in sight? Can we trust that Jesus calls us to a smaller personal agenda; but that he uses us as a part of a larger plan than we can imagine?
Soli Deo Gloria