Does anyone ever really change another person? Fix them? Lord knows we try.
And though we can persuade, manipulate, even force people to do what we think they should, that’s compliance or obedience, but not change. We can help people: support them, talk to them, change circumstances, create the best environment for change, but any one of us changes only at the moment we’re ready. And no one can make us ready.
All we can really give each other is support and information. Support can be material or emotional; information is conceptual. As good as those can be, the most important things in life are non-transferable because they are experiential. No one can give us the ability to play guitar, speak a language, ride a bike, trust, love, change, because no one can give us the experience of hours of immersion and relationship. We don’t change or fix others, and Jesus never said he did either. Instead of I heal you or I forgive you, he says your faith has made you whole, your sins are forgiven. Jesus recognizes when change has taken place, but knows he can only show the door, open the door, lead the horse to water. The rest is up to each of us.
When Jesus tells us not to judge, that the way we judge is the way we will be judged ourselves, is his poetic way of saying we need to grow our awareness past the sum of information that has been transferred to us—what we think we know that limits our perception of reality. To practice discernment instead, judgment based on lived experience, is to immerse in relationship with people and life that changes the way we see and judge. To take the beam out of our own eye before trying to take the speck out of another’s eye, is to turn the process of discernment inward and change the only person on earth we can possibly change. Ourselves.
When we take the beam out of our own eye, live the change we want to see in others, we create the best chance for others to change…just as God “changes” us. Not directly, but with the absolute acceptance of perfect love that silently draws us—the moment we’re ready to be drawn.