“I tell women that they are beautiful as a form of manipulation”, my friend confesses to me this morning. “I don’t mean it, because it doesn’t matter to me, but I know it’s a form of control. I want to confess this to you, because Jesus has been showing me that as long as the body of Christ have issues with their earthly body, they will continue to struggle with the concept of how a church body should work” (slightly paraphrased, as I don’t remember the exact words).
Mind games…many of us are good at them. They are what we play to get our own way and what we want. We use them to manipulate and control…often without realizing it, and without the others realizing it either. Using guilt or flattery…they both work…one just a little more positive in the application, but both get the same result. We use these games with our family, our significant others, our coworkers, and even strangers…whatever it takes. After all, it works. But, I don’t know about you…I get a slightly bad taste in my spirit afterwards. My conscience is starting to work on me. I am becoming more aware of my motives and the state of my heart, and it’s not a pretty sight.
Is there really a win win situation that can come out of playing these games? Is there genuine joy in getting something we had to manipulate for? And how do we feel when we realize that we are being manipulated? We feel sick to our stomach, and the happiness gets sucked out of what we did for someone else.
There are no games with Jesus. It’s pure and straightforward. He loves us, He died for us…and He wants what is best for us. Yet, we try to play games with Him. We try guilt, bargaining and downright tantrums! We think He doesn’t get it, and so we do what we can to get our own way. We play mind games, not even thinking that He can see into our innermost thoughts, and think that we can manipulate life to go our way. Then when it goes our way, we try to bargain with Him to change things. We live with free will, and with the consequences of our decisions, and yet we blame Him. He has never forced Himself on anyone. He waits for our genuine awe and thankfulness. Instead He gets attention only when we want something, or we are blaming Him for something. It is amazing to think that He still wants anything to do with us!
I need to examine my heart frequently. I catch myself playing these games and I don’t like it. Manipulation isn’t pure love. Honesty is. Being honest and vulnerable, before God and man, will get you places you never dreamed of. We see our lives in such a small finite way, and try to control that…when there are infinite possibilities out there for the pure in heart. Let’s watch out for these games, in ourselves and others, and strive for a life that is open and loving.