The Foundation of Freedom From Codependency

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How do you escape from “codependency”, or avoid it in the first place?  The first obvious step is to see that it’s happening.  Tragically, recognizing codependency is difficult for the naive, and especially the young.

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The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.   
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Proverbs 22:3

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Awareness and admission of dependency requires a gut check.  On the one hand, am I over-reliant on someone for my needs, fulfillment, or happiness?  On the other hand, is someone over-reliant on me for his/her needs, fulfillment, happiness?  Is my controller’s apparent reliance on me genuine, or a cover to make themselves the center my world?  Am I constantly walking on eggshells around this person?

Everyone has legitimate needs – both physical and emotional – and God intends for people to help each other with those needs.   Galatians 6:2 says:

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Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ  ….. 

Galatians 6:2

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But right after this, Paul goes on to say that in the end we must assume responsibility for ourselves:

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…..  For each one will bear his own load.   

Galatians 6:5

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The controller will turn your God-given motivation to help others into enslavement and dominance.  He ignores the both/and balance discussed in Galatians 6 that while we are called to bear each other’s burdens, in the end every one carries their own load and must trust God. 

There are many things for which we must trust only God, instead of looking to others.  The simplest example is breathing.  We breathe for ourselves…. and every breath we take comes from God.  Paul told the Athenians….

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…. nor is He (God) served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;     

Acts 17:25

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To break free of our controller’s emotional control, we need to make clear distinctions between legitimate needs and manipulative actions.  We can help them with legitimate needs, but should also give them space to take personal responsibility and look to God for the rest.  This is easier said than done.

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We also need to place the meeting of our own needs in God’s hands.  Breaking free requires that we transfer our hope and and source of strength from our controller to something or someone else – a better source that truly cares and has real strength themselves.  Yes, we can turn to human solutions …..

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    • Someone else.  For the the emotionally weak, they may once again gravitate toward a “strong personality”, controlling, narcissistic type, and simply repeat the same loop.  “Someone else” is the great illusory hope for many, but typically just substitutes one false hope for another.

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    • A “group” of some sort, such as
        • An affinity group – college alumni, sports teams, fishing, stamp collectors, Star Wars junkies, etc.
        • The “government” – the problem with this is that this can easily become simply a bigger “controller”, and does not provide any emotional support

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    • Ourselves – advocated by the self-help crowd.  It is not without merit, as it may help develop a mindset of personal responsibility.  However, total self-reliance is an illusion.  There are limits to our capacity for complete self-reliance.  God designed us most importantly to need Him – so that we would seek Him – and to also need others (to a point)

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…. but, while these solutions may help you break free from the emotional dominance of your current controller, they all have serious limitations.  The only true source of strength is God Himself (supplemented by those He brings into our life).  God has communicated this to us in many ways throughout the Bible.  He says,

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‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 

Isaiah 41:10

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God invites us to look to Him, instead of our proud, unreliable, narcissistic controller

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I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord.

 

How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.   

Psalm 40:1-4

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Once we realize that we need to switch our dependency from our controller to God, how do we actually do it?  Where do we start?

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Next up:  Breaking Free

Psalm 10 – David’s Prayer Asking God To Act Against Proud, Wicked Men

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Psalm 10

Why do You stand afar off, O Lord?
Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?
In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted;
Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.

For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire,
And the greedy man curses and spurns the Lord.
The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance,does not seek Him.
All his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

His ways prosper at all times;
Your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
As for all his adversaries, he snorts at them.
He says to himself, “I will not be moved;
Throughout all generations I will not be in adversity.”
His mouth is full of curses and deceit and oppression;

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The Proper Perspective Of God

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Psalm 8:3-5

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!

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When you think about it, both narcissists and their victims underestimate God.  Narcissists, in their overvaluation of themselves and undervaluation of God’s majesty, attempt to take His place.  Their victims underestimate the power and ability of God to act on their behalf and in their defense.

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Begin to gain perspective by getting outside to look up at God’s handiwork in the heavens.  I have been doing it frequently, and it has been very good.

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The following clip may also help.

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When Narcissists Ruin Our Plans

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Narcissists (aka those with insolent pride) in our lives may sometimes interfere with our plans.  It can be frustrating and maddening.  We must deal with N’s wisely.   However, it is also helpful to know that God is sovereign even over mangled plans – even if those plans were mangled to due to things beyond our control.  John Piper briefly discusses this in God’s Sovereign Plan Behind Your Most Unproductive Days.  It’s worth a quick look.

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Romans 8:28-29

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

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A blog update:  I am working on an extensive review on how Jesus dealt with the narcissists of His day (the Pharisees).  If you would like a sneak peek at my raw incomplete notes you can see them at How Jesus Dealt With The N’s.

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For an overview of what this blog is about, please see Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective.

In Whom Are Hidden All The Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge

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Colossians 2:2-3

that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

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Continue reading

While I’ve Been Gone

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In my “Who Am I” post at the start this journey, I explained that one reason I am doing this blog anonymously is that I have been involved (for more than a decade now) in a missions work in a sensitive part of the world.  That “sensitive area” is North Korea.  I was recently invited to submit an article on North Korea to a prominent Christian publication, and felt a strong burden to share the conclusion of some key lessons learned along my particular journey.   The article is below.  If and when it comes out, my actual name will not be attached because doing so would put some other people at risk .

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I am sharing it on this blog for two reasons.  One is t0 partially make up for my absence while I was pressing to get this article done (writing does not come easy for me).  The second is that the North Korean culture has certain narcissistic tendencies, so some of the following lessons provide a bit of broader context in that respect.

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Here’s a draft of the article:

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A Manifesto For North Korean Missions

A Call to Grace Through Faith

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A Summary On How To Live With A Contentious Woman (And Still Be A Real Man)

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[Note:  This blog entry is intended for men.  It was a difficult blog post to write, and I’m still working through it.  But it was far enough along to push the “publish” button and provide you with a launch point for your own search into the subject.  It may seem as though I am just focusing on narcissistic women, with men as victims, but I hope to write a similar post on the reverse relationship – a wife living with a narcissistic husband – in the near future.

Underneath this entire blog post is the view that marriage is a human illustration of a divine relationship]

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Romans 12:18

18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

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1 Corinthians 16:13-14

13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.

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How is it possible to be peacefully married to a a contentious woman and still be a real man?  A tough question.  Her modus operandi is to dominate you, which leaves you the seemingly impossible choices of either fighting back and creating a war at home, or submitting, neither of which is appealing (or correct).  This post summarizes a range of things to consider for dealing with the situation.  Your contentious woman could range from one who is merely annoying to one who is “impossible to live with”.

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Counseling Seemingly Impossible Situations

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2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

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I am reading an excellent book called “Counseling the Hard Cases:  True Stories Illustrating the Sufficiency of God’s Resources in Scripture“.  This book provides case studies on how Biblically based counselors successfully counseled seemingly impossible counseling situations – including situations which secular-counselors had previously been unable to resolve.

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The book starts with a discussion on whether the Bible is sufficient to help people with their problems….

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“Is Scripture sufficient to inform all the possible counseling situations in this fallen world? The implications of such a question are massive. Continue reading

God Will Put An End To Pride

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Isaiah 2

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Now it will come about that 
In the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it…..

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And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples…..

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11 The proud look of man will be abased
And the loftiness of man will be humbled,
And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day……

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12 For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning
Against everyone who is proud and lofty
And against everyone who is lifted up,
That he may be abased……

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17 The pride of man will be humbled
And the loftiness of men will be abased;
And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day…..

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22 Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils;
For why should he be esteemed?

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In the middle of our day to day grind of dealing with people with insolent pride, it is occasionally helpful to step back and see the end of the story.  In the end, God will put every proud and haughty person into their proper place, and will show that He alone deserves to be exalted.

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Having a proper view now of that future state of affairs can give us the perspective needed to see the proud and haughty narcissist as they really are – and through that to give us a measure of freedom from the control they seek over us.

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Please see Pride’s Hindrance To Salvation for some additional perspective.

God Gives Us What We Need, When We Need It

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Philippians 4:10-19

19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

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When we are in a difficult situation, it is a natural human response to say “it’s too hard” and look for a way out.   However, God promises that He will provide what we need – physically, emotionally, spiritually – commensurate to every situation, enabling us to walk the difficult road when needed.  This provision and enabling is called “grace”.

[Notethere are times when the correct action is to “avoid” narcissists – this blog post refers specifically to situations when God-given commitments and responsibilities prevent us from being able to avoid the situation].

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2 Corinthians 12:9

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

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2 Corinthians 9:8

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

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Grace has been defined in various ways.  The most encompassing way of understanding it is that grace is God’s free and abundant supply of everything we as humans need.  This supply begins with life itself, continues with everything needed for sustaining life, and extends to the ultimate solution for our separation from God.  It also includes God’s inner influence and empowerment which woos us to Him and imparts the desire and strength to endure trial and resist temptation.

Grace flows from His love for us, even when we do not deserve it (“unmerited favor”).  It is a free unearned gift from God whenever it is given, it comes through Jesus by faith, and it is so great that it should result in us joyfully thanking the Lord for it’s provision.  It will find it’s fulfillment in our being infinitely blessed by Him for eternity.  While God’s goodness provides “common grace” (e.g. – sunshine, etc.) to everyone, there are only two requirements for receiving His specific provision (grace) for specific situations we face in life – faith and humility.

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Digging deeper into this river of God’s supply called grace……. Continue reading

Dealing With N’s – Use The Full Armor of God

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Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

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14 Stand firm therefore,

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 having girded your loins with truth,

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Your Narcissist Cannot Interfere With God’s Love For You

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Romans 8:28-39

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

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31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

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The Four Pillars Of Trust

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Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
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This is one of those almost-too-familiar passages that we can often gloss over and say “yes, yes, I already know that one”.  But digging deeper it offers some clear guidance on dealing with the situations in our lives – including the situation with our difficult N.

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Proverbs 3:5-8 describes a very positive outcome, as well as three conditions for that outcome to take place.

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Foundations – HE Knows Your Need

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Others frequently state things far better I.  Following is one instance.

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HE Knows Your Need  

by John Piper, DesiringGod.com

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“Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:31–32)

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“Jesus wants his followers to be free from worry. In Matthew 6:25–34, he gives at least seven arguments designed to take away our anxiety. One of them lists food and drink and clothing, and then says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matthew 6:32).

Jesus must mean that God’s knowing is accompanied by his desiring to meet our need. He is emphasizing we have a Father. And this Father is better than any earthly father.

I have five children. I love to meet their needs. But my knowing falls short of God’s knowing in at least three ways.

First, right now I don’t know where any of my children are. I could guess. They’re in their homes or at work or school, healthy and safe. But they might be lying on a sidewalk with a heart attack.

Second, I don’t know what is in their heart at any given moment. I can guess from time to time. But they may be feeling some fear or hurt or anger or lust or greed or joy or hope. I can’t see their hearts. They don’t even know their own hearts perfectly.

Third, I don’t know their future. Right now they may seem well and steady. But tomorrow some great sorrow may befall them.

This means I can’t be for them a very strong reason not to worry. There are things that may be happening to them now, or may happen tomorrow, that I do not even know about. But it is totally different with their Father in heaven. Our Father in heaven! He knows everything about us, where we are, now and tomorrow, inside and out. He sees every need.

Add to that, his huge eagerness to meet our needs. Remember the “much more” of Matthew 6:30, “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you?”

Add to that his complete ability to do what he is eager to do (he feeds billions of birds hourly, around the world, Matthew 6:26).

So join me in trusting the promise of Jesus to meet our needs. That’s what Jesus is calling for when he says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.””

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective

Why God Allows Narcissists To Wreak Havoc – Foundations – God’s Providence

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Psalm 37:23-24

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.

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 [Please see here for the road map of the discussion on Why God Allows N’s To Wreak Havoc]

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We discussed here about God’s Plan For A Purpose of Love.  The next question is whether that “big picture” plan for a purpose of love also includes a detailed plan for individuals?  Is God actually in fact orchestrating everything in our lives according to a plan – even the little details of our lives, and even our difficulties with our Narcissist?

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The Bible indicates that God is indeed intricately involved in the course of our lives……

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Proverbs 16:9

The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

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..and knows every detail…….

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Luke 12:6-7

Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

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 Psalm 139

139 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all……..

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13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

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..and is thinking about us constantly (10 trillion times per second)

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Psalm 139:17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

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Alistair Begg has some good introductory thoughts about this subject, as well as a clear example of how God orchestrated many details in saving a person (Mordecai) and a group of people (the Jews) from the hands of a Narcissist (Haman) – discussed in the Old Testament book of Esther.  These clips may be a little long for the YouTube generation, but its worth a look.   You will enjoy listening to his practical perspective, as well as his humor and his Scottish accent.

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We can be sure that God is intimately involved in the details of our lives, orchestrating everything – even the “bad” things – for ultimate good.

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Psalm 23

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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  • Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here