Narcissism: Battling a Self-Centered Sin

Narcissism. It’s the latest overused buzzword. Yet, narcissism is a growing problem, and it’s not about to go away. Narcissism is SIN. A narcissist is extremely self-centered, selfishly promoting oneself at all costs, in order to remain on an imaginary pedestal. 

There are varying levels of narcissism. As someone becomes more selfish, that person becomes more self-centered, and in turn becomes blind to the needs and feelings of others. The self-centered narcissist is then no longer able to have compassion and empathy for other people. Narcissists expect to be the center of attention all the time, every time, believing that others’ lives should revolve around their own. In fact, narcissists get offended if not treated as the special beings they believe themselves to be.  

Narcissists learn to fake the empathy and compassion they lack. They closely watch others, reading their facial expressions and mimicking voice inflections. They react by faking the false emotion which they think best fits the situation. Narcissists manipulate and control people like puppets, in order to keep the spotlight on themselves. They learn how to use self-pity to get others to do their dirty work, and thrive on stirring up drama. They are convincing liars, able to turn on a faucet of tears in order to reach their goal of getting their own way, and gaining more attention. 

A narcissist feeds on “narcissistic supply.” This means they use others in order to get their emotional needs met. They don’t even mind some negative attention, which they would rather have than nothing at all. A narcissist will do whatever is necessary to get “narcissistic supply,” including: working overtime, committing adultery, forging false friendships, and tearing families apart. They jealously set out to destroy relationships, in order to prove that everyone “needs” them in a time of crisis. As the sin grows roots of bitterness, narcissists are willing to take extreme risks, including: placing their children in dangerous situations, taking on extra romantic partners, and falling into dangerous addictions. It’s all about generating narcissistic supply, in order to make other people believe that the narcissist is the personality he or she claims to be.

Narcissists come in all shapes and sizes. Some want to be looked at as powerful authority figures, while others want to be perceived as perfect church leaders. Others may want to be super mom, and still others as bold, fearless, and tough. Whichever role a narcissist chooses, it’s always for self-gratification. Narcissists are willing to lie, cheat, gossip, slander, and steal to make sure the desired facade is not broken. 

Anyone who becomes a threat to the narcissist, by pulling away the false mask, is at risk of having the narcissist attempt to destroy his or her life. This is why many people choose the cowardly route, and instead side with the narcissist, in assigning the truth sayer a scapegoat role. The scapegoat gets blamed for the problems that actually belong to the narcissist. By projecting, the narcissist is often able to hide dysfunction and convince others that the everything is the scapegoat’s fault. The narcissist’s allies want to save their own hides, because they know that disagreeing with the narcissist will make their lives extremely difficult. A narcissist attempts to turn everyone else against the one person who actually sees the wolf in sheep’s clothing. This abusive, self-centered behavior is insidious, because it is all about pretending to be someone the narcissist is not. It’s about charming others and gaining their trust and dependence; then dropping them like hot coals. 

Though a narcissist may not be able to feel true emotions, they feel something akin to deep depression when their main source of attention, or narcissistic supply, is cut off. They don’t actually care about the person missing from their lives; instead they care about themselves and how they are perceived in the public eye. Because people are normally trusting, a narcissist is able to weave his or her way into the lives of sensitive, empathetic people who never knew what was coming. The narcissist needs these people to survive, and fills up on their attention, like a car needs to fill its tank of gas. When the attention runs out, the narcissist is running on empty, and begins a desperate attempt to fill up his or her tank once again. It’s a never ending cycle, exhausting to those around the narcissist, who are required to meet outrageous expectations. 

Because people have other things going on in their lives, no one has the energy or stamina to continuously cater to a narcissist. When people begin to back away, toxic fumes erupt, because the narcissist is angry and running on empty. The narcissist will stop at nothing to get you back as a source of self-esteem, and if you don’t cooperate, they are bound and determined to make sure you do. If you cross them, they will scapegoat you, and try to damage your reputation with gossip, lies, and slander. They will dump and discard you when you have nothing to give, and then try to win you back when they run out of supply. 

Everything a narcissist does, is done with the intent to cast the narcissist in a positive light. Narcissists are people you know: mothers, fathers, children, bosses, teachers, neighbors, and more. Pay attention. They say and do things to show you how “wonderful” they are. They stop at nothing to keep their reputation intact. They fool many innocent people. This self-centeredness is so extreme that it cannot be fixed, or revealed, except by the grace of God. 

As the world we know crumbles under more and more selfish sin, narcissism will become even more and more commonplace. However, with God, the silver lining is always in sight. There is healing in Jesus for victims of narcissism. Jesus can take away the trauma and pain caused by narcissistic abuse. Jesus can break every chain of depression, rejection, fear, guilt, shame, anger, anxiety, isolation, and abandonment that innocent people battle as they try to cope and pick up the pieces of their lost lives. How wonderful it is to know that you can be set free from believing the lies that a self-centered narcissist led you to believe about yourself. 

Biblical boundaries are necessary when dealing with a narcissist, and in some cases may need to be set indefinitely. There’s another silver lining: As hard is it may be for some to comprehend, God loves narcissists too. Though the world will tell us there’s no hope for a narcissist, there is always hope for a narcissist’s transformation through repentance and forgiveness in Jesus. Nothing is impossible with God. Just as a victim of narcissism can be healed through the power and authority of Jesus Christ, and therefore no longer a victim, narcissists can seek God’s forgiveness through Jesus, and turn from the error of their ways. For God loves everyone, and Jesus died for the sins of us all. 

Live your life having joy in Jesus. God has laid it upon my heart to help others learn how God can spiritually heal people hurting from narcissistic abuse. Jesus is our hope which leads to freedom. If you believe you are in the path of a narcissist, I encourage you to learn about this self-centered sin. Yet, remember to pray and pursue Christ as you do, understanding that God’s ways are not man’s ways. God will protect you, heal you, and be your strength and courage, because God is the one who is really in charge! God will give you wisdom and discernment and lead you to those who believe you and can help you. 

It’s not God’s will for lives to be torn to shreds because of narcissism. Pursue God, and put your trust in Him. He has a much bigger plan, and He will use you to bring it to fruition if you let Him! God will pull you through it, giving you joy through Jesus…and God will get the glory! 

God is the great redeemer. He restores relationships, takes the bad, and turns it into good. God’s timing is always best, so hold His hand on your journey, knowing He will never abandon you or disappoint you! God is love, and God loves you!

“The Silver Lining” will be addressing narcissistic topics more in depth. To find other related blog posts, go to The Silver Lining Blog, click the menu button, and click on the keyword “narcissism.” You can also join The Silver Lining on Facebook. 

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People  be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”                              

2 Tim. 3:1-5 New International Version


“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 

2 Peter 3:9

 Let Jesus fill your tank with love, instead!

It Only Takes A Spark

As a Christian I’ve been judged and called a “bigot,” because I know God’s truth and follow His laws. I’ve been ridiculed for talking “bible speak,” because I enjoy sharing the scriptures God commands us to share. I’ve been accused of being “unforgiving,” because I have healthy boundaries, and choose to take God’s biblical advice about avoiding certain types of behaviors, for my personal protection, and that of my family. Because I have confidence in Christ, these insults slide off of me. I know they are lies sent from the enemy to separate and divide our brothers and sisters in Christ.

People get angry, because they do not understand the joy that comes from knowing one is standing, unwavering, in God’s truth. God reveals truth to us when we pursue Him! When I pursue Him, He showers His love upon me, giving me even more strength and courage to carry out the plans He has for me to do His will. The Holy Spirit fills me with warmth, similar to that of being around a cozy campfire. When I’m insulted for loving Jesus, it only adds further fuel to the fire, giving me even more desire to spread the truth about my GOD! Just like the words to an old childhood favorite song of mine, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going…And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing…That’s how it is with God’s love…Once you’ve experienced it…You spread His love to ev’ryone…You want to pass it on…”

We can share God’s truth by word of mouth, writing, praying for friends, reading God’s Word, getting involved with the youth in our neighborhoods and churches, leading bible studies, sharing on social media; whatever God calls us to do. Every Christian can make a difference. God speaks truth through us. Find your spark. Share God’s words. Place your confidence in Christ!

“Pass It On” lyrics by Kurt Kaiser

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 New International Version

The Gossip Track…It’s A Train Wreck!

(from a series related to narcissistic abuse)

Gossip is a long train of lies hitched onto half-truths, sprayed with graffiti, speeding its way down the rough, bumpy track. Who knows where it’s going? It’s dangerous, but it seems like everyone wants to jump on board, and it can cost people their lives. It’s not easy to slow it down, but if you’re willing to be the caboose, you can put an end to it.

The bible says, “In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines” (Prov. 18:17 New International Version). It’s astonishing how many people are willing to believe lies and settle for a one-sided story, without asking any questions of the other party. Why? It’s because gossip is a selfish sin. The listener wants to be perceived as loyal and is expecting something in return. It may be attention, money, status, job ranking, or the love and friendship from a relationship based on insecurity.

It’s just as sinful to eat up gossip, as it is to spread it. Participating in gossip is tempting, but it becomes deeply ingrained, skewing thoughts, and blinding the listener to truth. Gossip festers, causing people to believe lies for a long, long time. It destroys families and friendships, while eating away at your spiritual life. It may be years later that the truth comes out, causing righteous anger and sadness. People will grieve over the lost relationships that God had intended for us to enjoy.

Many people believe they have a “safety net” around them if they have a close friendship with a gossip, but they are in more danger of being betrayed, because they believe they are safe to share secrets. No one is immune from gossip, and those who participate will eventually get burned. If someone gossips to you, she or he will gossip about you. If we hear negative information, out of line with someone’s character, do we accept it, or ask the gossip why we’re being given the information? Do we ask for the other person’s version of the story, or sit back and enjoy the gossip as a sweet dessert? After all, the bible says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” ( Prov. 18:8). 

Are we willing to give up valuable friendships because of a story that may not even be true? Do we question why we keep a gossip as a friend? Some people feel powerful when they have access to inside information. Yet, the listeners are being used as fuel to make the gossip feel important. The gossip basks in the attention. Of course, the gossip also omits any crucial pieces of truthful information that would place him or her in a negative light. In extreme cases, a gossip is found to be a narcissist: entirely self-centered, self-absorbed, and selfish, purposefully using gossip as a vicious weapon to manipulate and control people. This allows a narcissist to turn friends and family against each other, so they will all depend on the narcissist as the most important person in their lives.

There’s a difference between someone warning us about an ungodly person who could cause us harm, versus downright gossip which causes us to lose our positive view of a good and godly person. Or, maybe we’ve been given a first impression of someone we haven’t yet met. When given information, we should ask God for discernment about the situation, and pray about it. We should ask why the information is being shared with us. It may feel uncomfortable at first, because people expect us to participate in gossip. We can be bold, without being rude, by asking precise questions: “Why are you telling me this? Where did you get your information? Do you agree with what you are telling me? Why don’t we go together and ask this person for his or her side of the story?”

Even Christians can get weak, and fall into the trap of “subtle gossip.” An example of this is when just enough details are given about a situation, but the name of the offender is purposely left out, so as to avoid “gossiping.” Sometimes the name is mentioned, because So-And-So “needs prayer” (or someone needs prayer because of something So-And-So did). Self-pity comes into play and subtly works hand in hand with gossip. People’s sympathies naturally lie with the person voicing sadness, so they miss the fact that the offender is probably hurting too, maybe even more. The offender may have even been forced to create boundaries for a situation others don’t see. This is further isolation for the person being gossiped about. Wise people remove themselves from gossip.

Christians can especially be deceived when gossip comes disguised as “concern” for a brother or sister in Christ. Gossip is actually concern for oneself and one’s own reputation. Upholding one’s false self, becomes more important than keeping the confidence of a fellow Christian, or making the necessary amends to improve the relationship. An example is when someone visits other family members, stating “concern” for an adult child or a sibling. Even real concern is not a free license to gossip. Is this person’s life in danger? Or, is it just someone with whom the gossip has a rift? Gossip is a big, red flag. If you find yourself in between two friends or family members, and only one of them is repeating negative, “concerning” things, while the other says nothing, you’ve been given a huge clue as to whom to really be concerned about…the gossip.

People also deceive themselves by believing they are only telling “one or two people.” This is damaging, because those two close people each tell their two close people, and then those six people each tell other people. Even if, like me, you’re not a math genius, you can tally up the large number of people who shouldn’t have access, and who are likely misinformed. Just as in the childhood game Telephone, the gossip’s story has sifted through several sources, with facts added onto, twisted, and turned around, and even omitted. How can this be okay with God?

The bible says gossiping ruins friendships. It does. It causes division and makes us unable to trust our friends. We feel isolated, abandoned, and rejected. These spiritual strongholds are not of God. Feelings get hurt and hearts get broken.” A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” ( Prov. 16:28)

If you can’t keep a friend’s confidence, do your friend a favor; admit your weakness, and ask her not to share private information with you. If you are trustworthy, appreciate it as a gift from God, and honor Him by keeping the confidence of others. Trust is revealed when people share information that stays between you and God. There are only a few situations in which a trust must be broken. However, situations involving suicidal or homicidal thoughts, or sexual or domestic abuse are still not reasons for gossip. These are situations where wisdom and discernment must be used to involve the fewest number of people possible to gain the greatest amount of spiritual and professional help. One must use proper disclosure by seeking out a trusted spiritual advisor in authority, such as a pastor, or other respected individual, known for caring and keeping the confidence of those they lead towards Christ.

Are you a gossip? The silver lining is in repentance.  You can ask God to forgive you for gossiping. If possible, and if necessary, ask forgiveness of the person you have betrayed. If you participated in gossip (including listening to it) say you’re sorry and ask forgiveness of the person you talked about. It may be scary to admit to someone that you gossiped about him or her. God understands this. Ask Him to remove your fear and cleanse your heart. Take along a trusted friend who cares about both of you. But make sure you are the one to apologize. You may find that the person you gossiped about is actually relieved, and grateful to have a chance to clarify the situation and be heard. Stick with the issue at hand. Even if your friend does not forgive you, God does. God says you are forgiven, and He can make good out of a bad situation; He can heal hurting hearts, and redeem lost souls along the way!

If you are the one hurt by gossip, and your offender does not apologize, you can still forgive him or her in the name of Jesus. This will make you feel lighter, and it will free you from anger and bitterness. Give Jesus your pain. He can take it. He already took it at the cross for you!

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” 

Psalm 63:3

 

(Photography includes model trains exhibit at the Brunswick Heritage Museum in Maryland.)

Stand Tall…Speak Truth!

MY GOD needs no defending, but I consider it PURE JOY when people: mock me, lie about me, make fun of me, and turn their backs against me; their reason being that I am proud to SPEAK TRUTH aligning with the scripture breathed by MY MAKER! My strength lies in JESUS! Yes, my confidence is in CHRIST! 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

 James 1: 2-4 New International Version