So come to the whole story with fresh eyes, with me.
I wonder what would happen if I told my wife that I am forever unchanging.
She’s quite sensible, my wife. I think most likely she would just roll her eyes and go back to what she was doing.
But I don’t think it would be unreasonable for her to be insulted at this statement. Because to make the claim that I am forever unchanging is to make the claim that she can not change me.
I realize that there’s this whole debate about how much we should want to change our spouse and how much we should accept them as they are. I’m not talking about those kind of changes. This is not about whether I should get better at folding the laundry, and communicating my feelings, or scraping all the food off my plate before I put it in the dishwasher.
This is not even about whether I should be a better communicator, or get a grip on my tempter, or be more polite or corteous or whatever.
This is about whether the acts of another person can impact me.
For me to tell my wife that I am forever unchanging is for me to tell her that she can not have an impact on me. It is for me to tell her that I don’t particularly care what she does, that all of my feelings about all of her actions are quite neutral.
I could have just as easily said “I don’t love you.”
The very act of love is an act of submission and vulnerability. It is to say “I am going to allow you to hurt me.”
It is as if we are superman, and we have a lump of kryptonite in a lead box. To love someone is to give them that box and to say “I trust you not to use this.”
We can go through the motions and pretend. But if a person can’t hurt us deeply, we are not in love with them. And if you think that being hurt by someone is not to be changed, you have never been truly hurt.
Hurt, of course, is just the most extreme example. To love someone is to be changeable in other directions, to. If we love someone then we are changed when they love us back. We are changed when they engage in acts of kindness. We are changed when they suffer by suffering along with them.