Why God Doesn’t Need You to Change That Other Person

Why is it so easy to see what needs work in others? It’s not up to us to change that other person, and it’s a weight we don’t need to bear.

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

People never change. That’s what I’ve always heard and, up until that unusual Saturday morning, what I had always experienced.

God Doesn't Need You to Change That Other Person

I’m not saying people never grow or mature, but to really change? Rarely.

So, after nearly five years of sharing our home with Matt’s parents, and due to his mother’s increasingly frustrating behavior, I told Matt I couldn’t take it any longer. Despite having invited them to stay with us “until the end of their days,” I was in a place where another week felt too burdensome for me, much less another year . . . or decade or two.

I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t do it.

Matt had tried addressing my grievances with his mom after I had gotten nowhere with her. Even my father-in-law had spoken to her on my behalf—asking her to be kinder and more respectful—but to no avail. She was not one to budge and certainly not one to apologize.

She was one strong, set-in-her-ways pioneer woman. And I’d had enough. But before we took the drastic step of disinviting his parents, Matt asked if I would be willing to pray about it for another week.

Yet here’s the thing: I had been praying about this painful situation and for my unmoving mother-in-law—going on five years now—and as far as I could tell, it hadn’t made a bit of difference.

Still, I reluctantly agreed to pray for one more week.

Then six days later, early on a Friday morning, I knocked on Mom’s door to borrow a cup of flour to make biscuits. However, when she opened the door, I was alarmed to see she had been weeping. My heart dropped as I knew something truly awful must have happened since I’d never caught her crying before—not one time.

And that’s when I heard the words I never thought I’d hear from her lips: “Oh Lisa, can you ever forgive me? I’ve been such a tyrant, and I don’t know how you’ve put up with me all these years.” She made those astonishing statements and then explained how she had been in the middle of her morning devotions when suddenly the Holy Spirit convicted her.

Just like that. An impossible answer to prayer.

Now, friend, if God can turn around my never-say-sorry mother-in-law, then I can tell you two things for sure: One, He does hear and answer our prayers. Two, He doesn’t always need us to change someone else. Sometimes He does it without any help at all but through the Holy Spirit in response to our faithful prayers.

So, if you’re in a place where you’re beginning to wonder if God is listening to your prayers for your marriage, let me reassure you: He is listening, and He does care.

Indeed, He doesn’t always answer our requests when and exactly how we want them answered. At times it might feel slow in coming; other times, it’s our heart or perspective that He changes, not the situation. But this you can count on: He is both sovereign and loving, and you can fully trust Him with your marriage. He perfectly loves you both.

In His Word

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6–7 NKJV)

In Your Life

While prayer can often be viewed as something we save for church or around the dinner table, in truth, God invites us to talk to Him about everything and at any time. He wants you to take your concerns, hopes, challenges, and victories before Him! You can entrust all aspects of your marriage to the hands of Him who cares for you.

Perhaps this is a good week for you to start a regular practice of prayer. Maybe you’ll want to get up a little earlier in the morning or ask your husband if he’ll pray with you before turning in for the night. Or you can develop the habit of praying as you drive to work or on your way to pick up the kids. Maybe you’ll decide to start a prayer journal and write down your requests—and answers!—in a notebook for this specific purpose.

We Recommend

This devotional is a sample chapter from Lisa’s new marriage devotional, Loving Your Husband Well: A 52-Week Devotional for the Deeper, Richer Marriage You Desire. The companion book, Loving Your Wife Well, written by her husband, Matt Jacobson, is also available. Matt and Lisa hope you find these books helpful, encouraging, and a resource to strengthen your faith and marriage!

Let’s Connect

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