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Gaslighting isn’t Godly

by Froswa Booker-Drew
Froswa’ Booker-Drew

We’ve either experienced it or know someone who has. ‘Gaslighting’ is “manipulating someone into questioning their perception of reality.” In essence, gaslighting happens to make a person doubt themselves and their decision-making. It’s not until it happens to you that you realize the dangers of dealing with people who do not take responsibility for their actions and place blame on others instead of admitting their role.

In addition to the manipulation of reality, the other types of gaslighting include outright lies, scapegoating and coercion.

The coercive gas lighter tends to be very charismatic or appears to be very caring. It can also include being emotionally and verbally manipulative to get their way.

A gas lighter who uses scapegoating blames others by justifying bad behavior.

The gas lighter who lies is often bold and does it with such ease that they don’t seem to be lying; it’s everyone else that is.

At the core of gaslighting is control. It’s painful to feel that someone is using you. For those of us who are in service industries or have big hearts, we are often targets for individuals who see our kindness as a weakness. It makes it easier for individuals who are self-centered and narcissistic to see the opportunity to benefit. In the desire to help others, it’s easy to find yourself as prey for others who do not have the best of intentions but only see you as a resource.

The Bible warns us to watch out for people like this. We can be tricked into believing this doesn’t happen in the church or with Christians, but it does often. It is often found in the form of self-righteousness. “Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents,” Romans 16: 17-18 (MSG).

The Bible also reminds us of what occurs when we are not careful and caught up by these deceptive individuals who are posing as something they are not.

“The goal is that we would no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching when people use tricks and invent clever ways to lead us astray,” Ephesians 4:14.

Led astray doesn’t always mean that we leave our faith, but we can be led astray by building walls around our hearts. We can miss out on the goodness of God because our hurt creates a heart of stone. To be used, taken advantage of, and made to feel as if something is your fault can be damaging to your self-esteem. Dealing with this mentally agonizing experience can create emotions such as anxiety and fear.

It’s important to forgive the person who has wounded you. It doesn’t mean to remain in harm’s way. Removing yourself from detrimental people and situations is imperative. It’s also important that we do not allow anger or bitterness to consume us. “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it,’” Romans 12:17-19 (MSG).

Unforgiveness has emotional, spiritual, and even physical implications:

“Unforgiveness is classified as a disease,” said Dr. Steven Standiford, chief of surgery at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. “Refusing to forgive makes people sick and keeps them that way.”

So what do we do when we are hurting from the mistreatment of someone we trusted? We go to God. Ask God to heal your heart. He will fix it. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh,” Ezekiel 36:26.

How do you balance protecting your heart and remaining a caring person?

Boundaries are necessary. Don’t stop loving and helping others. Ask God for discernment on who you should help and when.

(Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the president of Soulstice Consultancy, LLC and the founder of the Reconciliation and Restoration Foundation <r2fdn.org>. The author of four books including Empowering Charity: A New Narrative of Philanthropy, Dr. Booker-Drew is also the host of the Tapestry podcast.)

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