When I say the word “manipulator”, I think just about every one of us can think of someone that word describes.
Even in the church.
So, how do we show the love of Christ when we are being manipulated?
I know a few of you are thinking, “Well, we just show love. It’s easy. Just die to yourself.”
Part of me agrees with this statement and part of me doesn’t. I agree with the parts of show love and die to ourselves. Where I differ is on what this idea of love actually has living behind it. I think for many Christians what they call love is actually just kindness and while kindness is nice, it doesn’t hold a candle to real love.
So, what do we do?
*Before we begin, let me set some groundwork. Most manipulators are not monsters. From my experience, manipulators are people who have based their worldview on a lie or series of lies. They use this distorted worldview as a scale they measure all relationships against.
When someone contradicts this worldview, often with truth, the manipulator acts out of the hurt the lie has caused them to believe and attempts to cause people around them to feel the hurt they feel; and believe the lie they believe. But instead of sharing this hurt through healthy means and two-way conversations, they attempt to forcefully change the situation or opinions of others to match their own.
They are broken people just like you and me.
This doesn’t make being manipulated any easier but it does give you the starting point for how to care for manipulators by identifying what is actually “under the hood” of the manipulation. Lies they believe about themselves and others.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s begin:
I decided to split this post up into two parts to keep it short. We’ll take a look at the first two characteristics today and the other two next week.
1. Manipulators are like Addicts.
CHARACTERISTIC: A manipulator is not all that different from an alcoholic. Simply giving in to their manipulation only feeds the supportive fear and lie they believe. Playing into their manipulation doesn’t help them recover just as giving alcohol to an alcoholic doesn’t help them. It just enables the lie they believe about themselves and the world around them to grow deeper.
CARE: Love starts with truth. Manipulation is born out of lies and the desire to not be alone in those lies. The lies are the real problem, not the manipulation. So, we bring truth to the lies. But, delivery matters. Don’t be self-righteous and don’t be a jerk. Be self-controlled. Address the awkward stuff but do it in love, not in anger.
2. Boundaries Matter.
CHARACTERISTIC: Manipulators don’t want to be alone. But often the lie they believe causes them to act out of jealousy, anger, resentment, and even in some cases entitlement. Manipulation wants others to feel it’s pain but it also doesn’t want them to feel the joy that comes from living life together. Manipulation is greedy and doesn’t want to share anything but it’s misery. That’s why so many manipulators attempt to make those close to them feel guilty for new joys, recovery, and opportunity that happens in their lives. The lie reinforces itself to the manipulator and whispers to them they are alone.
CARE: This is one of the hardest aspects of manipulation for a Christian to deal with. The very nature of Christ is a reminder that we are not alone. So we don’t want others to feel alone either. But feeling alone and being alone are two different things. Allowing ourselves to play into the manipulation only feeds it.
Sometimes you have to set boundaries and stick to them. You don’t have to be mean about it or make a dramatic scene. The goal also isn’t to shut them off for eternity. The goal is two-fold: 1. Don’t enable the lie they believe and 2. Don’t break yourself by trying to force them to believe what’s true.
Set the boundaries but leave the door open. If they want to continue being destructive it will only be to themselves. If they want help, however, the door to you is just one step away but it’s not there to walk through and then pull you back into their room. It’s there for them to have a way to leave the destruction of their lie behind them and live life together with others.
There we go! We will go over the two other characteristics next week. I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below.
Question: How do you show love when you are being manipulated? Comment Below.