Manipulation vs. giving

My son was born with an abundantly generous heart. This week we had a wonderful time together. We gave the ultimate gift of time to each other. Yesterday we decided to go back to You Say Tomato so he could have just one more piece of cake. This time I told him he had to buy his own. As I grabbed a cup of coffee and a table, he ordered his cake. Much to my surprise, I was served a delicious piece of peach pie a la mode. The pie was my son’s treat. The ice cream was the store owner’s treat. This gift has touched me so deeply. He gave from the depths of his heart and wallet because of his gratefulness of our time together.

And on the other hand is an elderly woman that is a part of our lives. We give her rides to church when she wants to go. We help her at her home when she needs things done. But sometimes I feel manipulated and used by her. She asks for one little thing done and when I agree to help she begins asking me for one more thing and one more thing. Then she begins to ask me if I have this and that from home that I could bring. The thing that bothers me is that I feel like she is not being honest me about what she needs. She feels she needs to trick me into helping. I would prefer she just ask for the whole thing. I am very willing to help her. But when the week drags out and she continues to change her plans which deal with me coming to help her, I feel even more frustrated. Now she is not only changing the job, but is also not valuing the time I have set aside to help.

I have another friend who has an abundance of Solomon’s Seal growing by her house. She knows I would love to have some, but rather than giving it to me, she tells me I must first clean out her garden bed. My stubborn nature reveals itself when I feel manipulated. If there is a condition on a gift to be received, or a bait and switch tactic involved when it comes to my service, I suddenly don’t want to help anymore.

Now the choice of integrity would be to help anyway in most situations. Sometimes the best choice would be to step away from the relationship. Manipulation in any form is not friendship, nor does it promote generosity.

I gave this week. My son gave this week. We both are receiving an abundant measure of joy. My son is now folding my daughter’s laundry by his choice as she lays on the couch watching a movie. His well-spring is overflowing with generosity. When he does things like this for her, she suddenly has the desire to spend more time illustrating his comic book.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

What’s most perplexing about this paradoxical truth of giving and receiving is that it does not work when the intent of giving is to receive. Only when the intent of giving is unselfish does magic work. Only then are we truly humbled when we receive in return. Then we are gracious.

My elderly friend is very fortunate that my son was so generous this week. My cup is overflowing with generosity. So although I may feel manipulated, I will give to her and love her fully. My prayer is that my generosity will affect her as it has affected me.

amanda ∞

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5 Responses

  1. I understand about the reaction. I have the same one when I know I am being manipulated. We used to have someone in our life exactly that way. It was a close family member that used us in a very ugly way.

    It is hard to know that it is going to happen every time you’re in contact with this person, and still hope to have some effect on them by loving them anyway.

    It may be that no one else does love on her. It may be that she has always manipulated. The difference is you. Seeing Christ in you.

    She is a blessed woman, my friend, although she may not realize it yet.

    Janelle

    I think she has always manipulated. It is a system she learned. I can see that which makes me more gracious about it, but I still get frustrated.
    I’m sure you are enjoying having your eldest back, as am I.
    amanda

  2. My family and I used to intentionally live an minister in the inner city. The needs, the manipulation were huge. My job was one of finding compassion and comfort from the heart of God. And don’t forget: There’s nothing like being clear and kind with the truth- “Yesterday you said you needed X, and I’m happy to give it. However, it feels like manipulation when you pile more on.” Here’s one of my favorite quotes on the subject of ministry to the broken. I posted it recently on my blog.

    “Ministry with these, the most broken of our society, often become a ministry of waiting, of endless patience, offering help again and again, and knowing that only the victim can make the transformation.

    Through this profound growth into the meaning of ministry, we also experience a reshaping of the being and the nature of God. Gone is the wrathful, judgmental God who supports the hypocrisy of society towards its victims, especially sexually abused women. And gone is the God who infantilzes us, does everything for us, and makes us dependent on forces outside ourselves.

    The God that emerges…is the quality of divine love and power…This is a God whose power does not compete with our own best energies, but who enters into our best energies to bring us to the fullness of life”
    Edwina Gateley

    I distinctly remember this post of yours. I loved it. I reread it several times actually thinking more of the women we serve at Veronica’s Voice, but it does fit here too.
    Thanks for your encouragement.
    amanda

  3. >>”So although I may feel manipulated, I will give to her and love her fully. My prayer is that my generosity will affect her as it has affected me.”

    I am just not there yet, Amanda…

    And just recently, I’ve seen how those things can affect other people, even marriages- negatively, when one sees manipulation as it is, and refuses to give anymore, while the other keeps wanting to give, not considering how his/her spouse feels… It is painful to see…

  4. Does Solomon’s Seal grow wild around you? It groes all over the woods here. I think I would have a hard time accepting your friend’s gracious offer as well. 🙂

    BUt I admire your determination to respond with grace. 🙂

  5. This hits me where it hurts! I very often say yes to things with a truly willing heart and wanting to give all I can. I never can seem to foresee what it will grow/snowball into, and it happens a lot that it is TOO MUCH! I am breaking under the stress and frustration of it all. Then when my attitude goes sour, I feel SOOO GUILTY! ACK! I am learning that my season now is to pour into my littles. As I’m already overwhelmed, it’s okay to say no! but my initial desire is not to do that.

    Um, one very, very special darling FORGOT to tell me that!!!!! (((((HUGS))))) sandi~late with your card! Forgive me!

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