When we love others, we want the best for them, which in large part just means that we want them to be the best they can be. We want to see their souls be kind, strong, and joyful. It is truly astonishing, however, how quickly and completely this good hope can turn from a love of who they were made to be into a hatred of who they are. Once we find out that they are not what we earnestly desire them to be, we become angry and frustrated with them, and cope by turning to control and manipulation. “After all,” we say to ourselves, “it is for their own good.”
The antidotes to this subtle tragedy are many, but they are all hard. We can study the love of Christ, plead with Him for humility, trust infinitely, understand that we do not, in reality, have any control of each other, or rest in the sovereignty of God. Then, at last, our love can free others rather than become dissatisfied with them.
All these will help, but we must finally realize that while Christ fully embraced us, He also commanded us to be perfect. We must gently do the same to others; this is part of what it means to be in community. It is foolish to hold on to control, but it is lazy to refuse to lead. The tension is a tightrope, and it will never cease because it is Real. Hopefully, though, the longer we are at it, the better our balance will become.