Orthodox Thought for the Day


Friday, July 26, 2013

On changing others

From The Ascetic of Love, pp 179-80, Gerontissa Gavrilia on causing change in others:

It is a great fallacy to believe that by trying you can change a person.  This never happens.  It can be done through the example of your own life.  It can never, or very seldom, be achieved through effort, talk, contradiction and the like. 

The change will occur when the time of God comes.  If you change your own self and become a living example to the person you wish to change, if you become his ideal and are seen to be happy, then it will happen.  To pray for somebody is quite right---but we must not try to change him.  This is only in the Hand of God.   

 God has a plan for everyone’s life.  For all human beings.  We are free, but what we don’t know is that He knows what we shall do.  For He knows all.  God knows every single step of our life, to the last moment.  We do not.  And dear M., if we tried more to unite our self with God, then we wouldn’t need to do anything.  Because we would automatically become an example to those we wished to see walking His way.   

It is natural, though, for you, so young and with all this love God has put into your heart, to fail to understand, at least in the beginning, to feel disappointed and to say, What a situation!   All this effort and no results yet?  But did it ever cross your mind that God says the same thing about us?  I pardoned so many times, I showed forbearance so many times…And still…   

 The next step should be prayer.  Just as the beginning was prayer.  Without judging the other person.  Once after I had understood that prayer is everything, I saw two very angry boys fighting in the street.  I refrained from intervening, as I would have done in days past.  Instead, I put at once into practice what I believed in.  I turned aside and said, Lord, put Thy peace between these two.  By the time I turned to look at them again, they were laughing and playing.  That was an answer from God.  Know that, dear M.  Our peace and serenity, our own way of living, indicate how much we believe.  That is why a person may teach us the best lesson, but if we see that he is troubled, restless and faltering, we cannot have faith in what he tells us.  If therefore, we wish to help our fellow men, the purpose of our life should be to get as close as we possibly can to the Example—the Lord. 

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