ma·nip·u·late[muh-nip-yuh-leyt] Show IPA
verb (used with object), ma·nip·u·lat·ed, ma·nip·u·lat·ing.
to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner: to manipulate people's feelings.
to handle, manage, or use, especially with skill, in some process of treatment or performance: tomanipulate a large tractor.
to adapt or change (accounts, figures, etc.) to suit one's purpose or advantage.
con·front[kuhn-fruhnt] Show IPA
verb (used with object)
to face in hostility or defiance; oppose: The feuding factions confronted one another.
to present for acknowledgment, contradiction, etc.; set face to face: They confronted him withevidence of his crime.
to stand or come in front of; stand or meet facing: The two long-separated brothers confronted eachother speechlessly.
to be in one's way: the numerous obstacles that still confronted him.
free·dom[free-duhm] Show IPA
exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
the power to determine action without restraint.
political or national independence.
personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.
Over seven months ago, I confronted someone about manipulation, specifically gossiping in a manner which resulted in alienation of affection of several relationships which were important to me. I gave detailed instances--time, place, and persons involved.
At first, there was denial. I was told that was my perspective, with the blatant implication it was skewed. Then there was an apology. Apologies are weak and lame without behavioral changes to back them up. When the rubber met the road--I wanted this person and myself to meet with another party tainted in careless talking--the one who apologized suddenly vanished from the negotiation table. Complete, utter, silent disappearance from communication.
Cue Cyndi Lauper, I saw true colors.
Before the incriminating disappearance, an attempt was made to take the position of upper hand: I was accused of being angry. The offender was not angry, I was angered, thus I was in sin. It was a manipulative deflection from a self-awarded position of righteousness.
Of course I was angry. Relationship after relationship was being meddled with.
Bishop T.D. Jakes, of whom I have the utmost respect, wrote:
- Forgiveness is not overlooking, ignoring, or denying a hurt or an offense, and it does not require your anger to disappear.
People, anger serves the purpose of letting you and others know you have been violated. It is a legitimate emotion. When handled improperly, it leads to trouble, but feeling it in response to a violation--don't let anyone condemn you for a marker the Lord gave to sit up and realize something is very wrong. A manipulator will absolutely try to take that power from you, anything to shut you up and take the heat off them.
More from Bishop Jakes:
- Forgiveness is not excusing damaging or wrong behavior.
- Forgiveness does not rob you of personal power or exonerate the person who hurt you.
- Forgiveness does not trivialize your trauma or lessen the pain you have experienced.
- Forgiveness is not forgetting the hurtful or harmful things people have done or pretending those things never happened.
- Forgiveness does not mean you should restore trust in someone who hurt you or that you should have an ongoing relationship with that person.
This is where well-meaning Christians miss the mark, pushing people back to accepting relationship from abusers without requiring the abuser to show, take or have any responsibility for reforming their behavior. It is ridiculous when one thinks about it in light of relationship with Christ. After professing belief in Jesus and His main mission on earth, dying in atonement for our sins, there is the necessary acknowledgement of one's personal sin and repenting of it.
When someone places their behavior, their very being, above this, there is a name for them, a manipulator. See highlighted portions above. There are vast differences between forgiveness, restoration and reconciliation. Forgiveness is always in order for the Christian. Always. Restoration and reconciliation are dependent upon the actions of the other party.
So do you forgive a manipulator? Of course. Unequivocally yes. To forgive means to release them into God's competent Hands, to not seek revenge, to allow God to deal with the person in His timing and in the manner He chooses, acknowledging that vengeance is His, He is just, and He knows the hearts of all men.
Since we do not know the hearts of all men, we use wisdom to search for what the Bible calls fruit. Essentially, what are the results of their life?
If there is no demonstration of remorse or attempts to mend damage, nothing to evidence the person is sorry for the behavior or intends to do better, it'd be, well I hate to say stupid, but stupid it would be to re-invest yourself in someone who will surely continue to disrupt your life given the chance. Apologies spoken to hastily end conversation, to restore one to the position of power to abuse, ring hollow. That is also manipulation. Listen for the echo--no change of behavior.
Do you have to re-enter relationship with a manipulator? No.
Must you forgive? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
Also from Bishop Jakes, forgiveness...
- liberates you from your past and sets you free to embrace your future
- unburdens you soul of agonies that could infect every area of your life for the rest of your life
- relieves that emotional ache you cannot seem to escape, the one that holds you back when you try to move forward and weighs you down when you try to rise up
- takes a realistic assessment of the damage done to your soul, accepts that, and takes deliberate steps toward healing
- will release you to a new level of purpose, vision, creativity, vitality, intimacy with others, and success in every area of your life
- is essential if you are going to grow into the fullness of the person God created you to be--and it is indispensable to fulfilling your destiny
- is one of the best gifts you can ever give yourself
And even more wisdom from Bishop Jakes: "Most of the time, people who will disregard and devalue you to the point of committing a serious wrong against you or hurting you deeply do not care enough about you to apologize."
Trust is to be given wisely, cautiously, and when broken, the onus is upon the offending party to earn it back. Words alone don't cut it, though a declaration of intention is good if it is followed through with action to back it. The Bible commands us to forgive, to release the offender and the offenses to God. There are no passages commanding trust in man. Forgive, yes. Love, yes. And in cases of continuing abuse, that can be adequately done from a healthy distance called a boundary.
Pray a prayer of release for yourself and for the offender. Say their name, releasing them and their deeds to the Lord. Say it as many times as is necessary. Bless your enemy. Pray for their needs to be met, for the Lord to forgive them, for they surely don't realize the magnitude of what they've done. Praying for someone softens your heart toward them so that bitterness does not flourish there. If it has, repent of that, ask the Lord to cleanse you of it, and believe that He will do it. Don't accept condemning thoughts from the father of lies, satan, and don't accept condemnation from a person who will not change abusive behavior toward you.
Walk in the light and love of the Lord. Walk freely! You were never meant to be imprisoned by another's actions on this earth, and refusing to forgive holds you prisoner in your own heart. Free the offender! Free yourself!
Do realize that where there is not reconciliation, others may deem you to be unforgiving. Let them have their thoughts. You do not have to defend your right to free yourself from emotional, spiritual, physical or any other kind of abuse. This is between you, God, and a person who may or may not wish to be in relationship with you.
Trust that the Lord will show you when/if the time is right for restoration and reconciliation.
Then keep walking.