Sunday, August 10, 2014

Manipulation, Confrontation, Deflection and Freedom


  [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.


  [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.
to bring together for examination or comparison.

— vb
to turn or cause to turn aside from a course; swerve


  [free-duhm]  Show IPA
the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: He won hisfreedom after a retrial.
exemption from external controlinterference, 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.
             The person I confronted spoke of tears and how hurt they were--that they'd been confronted!  If anyone in your life doles out relational abuse, deems themselves not responsible, then judges you for a legitimate reaction to their behavior, there's a serious, diabolical problem.  You have every right to separate yourself from this person until the behavior has been rectified.     

  • 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.     

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hearty Potato & Sausage Chowder

Hearty Potato & Sausage Chowder

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 ½ cups (1 large) thinly sliced onion
3 Tblsp all purpose flour
3 cups (3 medium) cubed 3/4-inch potatoes
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Cheddar 
8 ounces (2 medium) cooked Polish sausages, cut into 1/4 inch slices

In 3-quart saucepan melt butter.  Stir in onion; cook over medium heat until tender (4 - 5 minutes).  Stir in flour until smooth and bubbly (1 minute).  Stir in potatoes, milk, salt and pepper.  Cover; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are fork tender (25 - 30 minutes).  Stir in cheese and sausage.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted and sausage is heated through, (2 - 3 minutes).

That’s the recipe from Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Heritage Meals and Menus.

Now here’s how I cook it.  I mix together the flour, salt and pepper and put it in where the flour is called for, similar to making gravy.  This business about stirring occasionally does not work!  Stir frequently, I use a wooden spatula to get all the way to the bottom, or you’ll have potatoes stuck on the pot that’ll take two days to soak off!  Whatever you do, don’t let this scorch.  It will ruin the taste.  Ask me how I know that.  I use red potatoes because they don’t cook to mush, however if you’d like the potatoes to be extra soft, you could use a baking type potato.  With the leftovers, add a little milk when you warm it; it stretches the soup, and to my palate always seems to need it anyway.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Meeting of the Minds?

More like passed each other in the intersection.

From time to time Mr. A mentions how his mother cooked cubed potatoes in a skillet for breakfast, a delicious home-cooked memory for him.  

This morning I decided to cook some like that for him, knowing full well it wouldn't be as good as his mother's, but I tried anyway.  There was slicing and chopping; potatoes, onions, and sausage were involved, a sizzle from the drizzle of olive oil in the skillet, then a few cracks of eggs, and a nice breakfast materialized.

He was still coming to consciousness at the table, one of many aspects of opposites attracting us being I'm wide awake at first light, but he said something that resembled acute cognitive awareness, "I heard you in here playing Chopin."

I thought and said how clever that was, the symphony of kitchen clangs creating the music of his breakfast.

He said, "How it's spelled."  

I said, "C-H-O-P-I-N."

He said, "Yeah, choppin'!"

Then, "You'll never figure out how my mind works."

Probably not, but it makes me laugh, every day.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hardened Hearts

What did
my generation
for their children?
the best schools
the right clothing
the new truck
the latest iPhone
the popular activities
the best
of everything
two incomes
could buy
and what
in Third World
for their children?
Enough food to live
a few garments
to cover
their nakedness
the opportunity
for an education
and should
that opportunity
present itself
the girls
might be
for the pleasure
of sick bastards
the boys 
might forego
in order
to go to war
to work
a bite
of food
while people
and satisfied
their desires
their motives
they may
have to share
from the hoard
of junk
which crowds out
their family members
in homes
on the exterior
the rich
the poor
for intruding
then go
to church
to worship
turned away
from lodging
in a barn
to flee
His country
His earthly father
in a dream
of murderous
for His life
this little family
well received
in Egypt
or spurned
did they,
and come out
to work
on the fringe
doing jobs
the Egyptians
a skilled carpenter
ever fearful
they'd be sent
to the place
where murder
was their destiny?
People crave
a taste
of what 
we gorge upon
and we 
hate them
for their hope
wish them back
to their
waking nightmare
so as not
to disturb
the American
they'll die
of lack
we die
of excess
these beggars 
named Lazarus
will be comforted
and the rich
who would not
will discover
they'd grown
too fat
to fit
the eye
of the needle.