Sigh. This sin should just start with one fat sigh.
Manipulation is when you want something and there are circumstances or people between you and what you want. You don’t want to directly disobey God or the people who’ve told you no, so, you ‘manipulate’. Instead of waiting for God, you find a way to work your way around the obstacles to get for yourself what you want.
There are parts of us that long to be rebels and just directly disobey, but for a lot of us this brings with it too much guilt and shame. We don’t want to break the rules and go against the people who lead us, so we find a new alternative. Manipulation is our way of getting what we want without overtly disobeying.
There are three ways types of manipulation women struggle with (and probably way more, but I’m using my heart as a case study here..)
- Emotional manipulation
- Forceful manipulation
- ‘Womanly’ manipulation (I couldn’t think of a better name for this but I’m open to suggestions!)
Let’s start with Emotional Manipulation. So, you have something you want but circumstances or people stand in your way. You don’t want to just go and get it if it means clearly disobeying God or man, so you find a way to emotionally manipulate the people and circumstances around you. Emotional blackmail, pouting, crying and creating a situation where you try to make people (or even God) feel like you are being ‘wronged’.
This is so deeply hidden in my heart that I can do it without even realizing. If a coworker unintentionally hurts my feelings and I want an apology, instead of repenting and seeking to develop in our communication skills or prayerfully surrendering to God, I will get totally silent until they ask what’s wrong. Then I say ‘nothing’ in a tone that communicates ‘everything’. And I will continue this cycle until I get what I want.
Most of the time this isn’t intentional. I don’t think women sit around thinking – if I cry at this point in the fight my husband will come and comfort me. I think it’s more subtle. I think we have an arsenal of emotions at our disposal that work for us. And when we’re in situations where we can’t have what we want we convince ourselves that we really have been ‘wronged’ so that when we convey this, we aren’t being deceptive.
Do you ever (even jokingly) try to make someone feel bad for not being able to hang out with you, take on a certain ministry obligation they don’t feel called to, or do a favor for you? Why are you trying to change their minds? And is emotional manipulation the right tactic?
Next is Forceful Manipulation. This is where you don’t want to disobey, so you think you can convince the obstacle to move by force so that you can have free access to whatever it is you want. Let’s say you are married and you want something that your husband thinks is unwise. Forceful manipulation is the way we women can convince ourselves we are submitting while launching a campaign against him. After enough berating, nagging, pressing and arguments he will change his mind and we will be free to get what we want without any feeling of disobedience. We can convince ourselves we are submissive and trust his leadership ….after all…we didn’t go against his will, right?
The truth is, if you force the issue enough, most men will concede because the argument is more drama and stress than they can handle. I’m not saying this is right, I’m just saying even as a single I’ve seen how effectively I can make employers, teachers, co-workers change their mind after enough forceful manipulation on my part. But this is not respectful and it’s not obedient and it’s not trust.
Finally, ‘Womanly’ manipulation. Awkward title I know. This doesn’t mean using our ‘women’s troubles’ as grounds for manipulation (cause that would probably fall under emotional manipulation). What I mean by this is there are things that are unique and precious about women. These things are in us to bless and encourage and affirm men. This manipulation is when we use these things to get our own way and seek our own interests.
So, singles, this could be the way you dress on a Sunday: seeking to get attention. What you want is a guy to be into you, but you don’t want to ‘break the rules’ by being overtly in his face, so instead you put on a shirt that you know accents certain parts of you, basically trying to entice him to sin so that you can feel wanted.
Or maybe you’re married and you use sex as a tool to getting something you want. Or maybe you just become extra flirtatious with your husband in order to be more ‘persuasive’.
So, here are a couple of questions to think through:
- What are the things in your life that you want? Make a list (big and small)
- What are the obstacles or people in your life that have told you no? Think through your leadership – church, work, government, family, God. Are there any of these things that they have said no to?
- What are the ways that you try to manipulate them? What are the ways you try to manipulate God?
Here’s the deal. I am a woman specifically so I can reflect specific aspects of the character of God. There are aspects of Christ that I alone can reflect because I’m a woman. And every ‘no’ and every ‘obstacle’ exists precisely so can reflect that to the world.
Without obstacles between you and what you want there would never be a need for a trust that transcends action, and without that you would never be able to reflect Christ’s perfect obedience.
Christ trusted His father. Even when He was being handed over to death by ‘leadership’ that was filled with sin and hatred for God, He didn’t try to manipulate His way out of it. Because He believed the truth that God was sovereign over every heart. God holds the heart of kings in His hand and He turns them where He wills. There are no arbitrary obstacles in your life between you and the things you want. There are only God given opportunities to trust and let go.