As Phillip sat across from me with his elbows on my desk, his face in his hands, the quaking voice coming from him dripped with disappointment and sorrow. He was adamant that his wife Maria had changed completely after they were married, saying that she was not at all what he had expected her to be. When I also spoke with Maria, she said almost exactly the same thing about Phillip. Then, counseling both together, we discovered that they each had held very unrealistic expectations of the other, as well as a false view to begin with.
If we do not love God first, and understand our desperate need for the grace He gives, then the people we love will never meet our expectations of them. We will expect conformity to an illusion of what the perfect candidate for that role or relationship is.
When we come to Christ and see ourselves with clarity in the light of His holiness, how utterly detestable our own sinfulness becomes to us! It is only when we see ourselves for who and what we truly are that we can know what unconditional love is, for God has sent His own Son to die for us while we were yet sinners, while we are still in that wretched condition. The question is then begged; do I really love this person who is so far from my illusion of what they should be? Our answer lies in the question, Has God demanded that we conform to a pattern of perfection before He loves us, or after His act of grace and mercy, after He has proven His love?" He loved us first, and then acted upon that love with grace.
Speaking of our old nature, Paul writes in Gal.2:20 "I am crucified with Christ". In dying to the old self, we crucify our illusion of who and what we are, and of what that loved one should be. It is the weakness of the flesh that perpetrates and perpetuates the illusions in our mind. The Spirit of Truth, or Holy Spirit, reveals truth. Jesus Christ is the truth, (John 14:6), and all truth can be found through a relationship with Him.
Expect your expectations to change. With our illusions shattered by the illuminating reality found in Christ, we can decide to love unconditionally. We must begin granting grace and mercy to our loved one. Suddenly, our expectations are pure. They have not been lowered, but are now reasonable, having grown out of an accurate knowledge of who we really are, and hence who they truly are. We are now empowered to lead them to the same truth in Jesus to make the changes they need to make. We certainly cannot judge them (we are or were in the same condition) and we can now truly love them, for our disillusionment; the breaking of our illusion, has given us the ability; the power to love them into change.
There are three steps toward our loved one becoming what we need in that relationship. Know the truth found only in a relationship with Christ Jesus. Love unconditionally as we have been loved by God. And, grant them the same kind of grace we have been given.
"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." Romans 16:20
Phillip and Maria just had their second child. After fifteen years of happy marriage, they say their love for each other has now grown to a beautiful maturity and life together is wonderful, thanks to Jesus Christ.
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