Manipulative people detest when they lose their power over someone else. Manipulation is a game constantly played in human relationships. We often get caught in it because we love the people playing, and we don’t want to risk losing their friendship if we don’t keep them happy. Such a life, however, will not lead you to joy but to greater confusion and pain.
It is never easy to bear the brunt of someone else’s brokenness. Their use of anger and false accusations to manipulate others creates an environment where tender, gracious relationships get lost. For many, it’s a religious game. Thinking they know God’s best for you, they will stop at nothing to get you to please them or judge your salvation when you don’t. If they don’t come to see that, they will constantly up the ante until playing their game eventually begins to eat at your soul. You can go along with it for a season, hoping it’s just a temporary blind spot for them, but when they start gossiping about you or gaslighting you, you have to step away. Seeking a relationship of mutual respect and tenderness becomes impossible. That’s when you got to let Jesus lead you out of the game, even if it risks a relationship you hold dear.
We talked about that last week in our Jake Colsen Book Club. Chapter 8 of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore lets Jake see how human relationships get easily twisted. Here are some excerpts from that chapter:
Just remember Jesus is not worried about tomorrow because he has already worked that out. He’s inviting you to live with him in the joy of the moment, responding to what he puts right before you.
The approval you felt then came from the same source as the shame you feel now. That’s why it hurts so much when you hear their rumors or watch old friends reject you. Truth be told, some of those people still really care about you. They just don’t know how to show it now that you no longer play on their team. They’re not bad people, Jake, just brothers and sisters lost in something that is not as godly as they think it is.
Now you know what that’s like from the other side and one of the big things Jesus is doing in you now is to free you from the game, so that you can live deeply in him rather than worrying about what everyone else thinks about you. As long as you need other people to understand you and to approve of what you’re doing, you are owned by anyone willing to lie about you.
Since Sara and I have had to stay a bit closer to home as she recovers from rotator-cuff surgery, we’ve been using Zoom to continue engaging with others worldwide through the Jake book discussions and the Wrestling with Trauma conversations. We will hold another Wrestling with Trauma conversation on Sunday, February 5, at 11:00 am PST. You’ll have to do the math to determine what that might be in your time zone. If you’d like to join us this week, please email me for the Zoom link. We’ll be limiting it to the first twelve who request a link, but don’t worry; we will schedule more such times. These are not teaching sessions, nor will they build on each other. Each will be a conversation to serve those who join us and help encourage them to the Way Jesus wants to lead them through the pain of trauma into his increasing freedom. These conversations are not streamed live or recorded. They are for the personal benefit of those who can join us. You can even join in anonymously if you prefer.
And for those interested in the next Jake Colsen Book Club, we will hold the next discussion of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore on Saturday, February 4, at 1:30 pm. We will move on to Chapter 8: Unplayable Lies, where we’ll explore how God wants to lead us out of the hard places some of our choices have put us in and, while doing so, teach us how to trust him and his wisdom. You can email me if you’d like a link for that. Anyone can join in; we only ask that you re-read that chapter so it’s fresh in your mind. You can also listen live (or afterward) as we stream it on my Wayne Jacobsen Author Page on Facebook.
If you’d like to listen to the previous conversations, here are the links to these videos: