Gaslighting in Psalm 7
Breaking unhealthy cycles of behavior through meditation and prayer.
The term gaslighting is nothing new for some, especially for those held victim to it. Gaslighting can be defined as manipulation by psychological or emotional means causing another to question their reality. It is an attempt to dismiss another’s reality often causing great trauma.
Gaslighting may take on a variety of forms. When the country music band, The Chicks released their acclaimed song, Gaslighter, it was eye-opening to see how many people identified with Natalie Maine’s experience of having been ‘gaslit’ through a long and tumultuous divorce. The song gave the words and empowerment to name it. The song was therapeutic for many.
When Covid-19 made it’s presence known, there were heated debates about the severity of the illness, the effectiveness of masks, and the need for vaccines. While some tried to dismiss the severity of the virus as of no consequence, others urged attention to the “science.” In the meantime, many were left to wonder, “Am I out of my mind? Is this stuff real?”
What I Have Done?
In Psalm 7, the narrator is under pressure, getting criticism from all sides. We might imagine a relationship, a person in public office, or any one of us trying to make ends meet from day to day and you hear those voices that make you question who you are.
“For all that I have wronged,” says the Psalmist in a prayer, “Tell me how to make it right. If there is no hope for me, put me out of my misery.” But as the prayer continues, he realizes “Yes, I’ve made mistakes and there may be more to come, but today I’m on solid ground.”
He is on solid ground because he is attentive to a wisdom beyond himself. In the words of Walter Brueggemann, only the wisdom of Yahweh is “illusive enough to interest, hidden enough to attract, severe enough to detain and awesome enough to counter (The Threat of Life, p 86).” This is a conversation partner worthy of the Psalmist’s time.
This is not one who blames “liberals” or “conservatives” when something goes wrong. This is not one who dismisses or invalidates our reality as of no consequence. This is one who sees, hears and summons all to life. As a friend of mine once said, “I stopped letting others define my happiness a long time ago.”
Prayer is the Practice of Faithful Yielding
The practice of prayer not only holds space for venting, rants and rage, but like yoga, meditation, or mindfulness— we are put in touch with insights we might not at first have seen. More times than not, the result is faithful yeilding. As the Psalmist concludes: “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his [God’s] integrity,” for by it we reclaim our own.