In loving manipulation

All she really ever wanted to do was make a difference in the world – one man at a time. Maybe even just make a difference in the world of one man for a lifetime. Service was all she had to give. And we all know love expresses itself best through service. Well, don’t we? So she sat out to change his world one little detail at a time. Not to change him – she knew better than to do that; but to order his world, to organize his life for optimum success. She tidied his wardrobe. She cooked nutritious meals. She stocked the magazine rack and the bookshelf with cogent current events reading material. She was continually self-sacrificing of things she wanted and needed in order to put funds toward his success. She gave him wonderful backrubs to ease the tension of the day and to help him feel secure, cared for, and confident. She put off her own schooling in order to reach higher for his. And did he thank her? Well, of course not! It is embarrassing to be smothered and made to feel obligated. Besides that, maybe he knew intuitively that self-sacrifice is a lessor virtue – perhaps an easier virtue – than to love, really love. Honestly, she should have spoken plainly and let her needs be known. But before we fault her unduly may we remember she was never taught how to take responsibility for her own care – only how to take responsibility for others. Well, somebody’s got to do it! And of course, nobody else did. So she rose to the occasion and lovingly manipulated his environment. And it was disastrous. Obviously, he should have taken responsibility for his own baggage. Just as truly, but maybe not quite as obviously, it was incumbent on her to accept responsibility for her own choices and relational health.