The Intimacy of Being Consoled

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If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”

Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.

 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,

Your consolations delight my soul. 

Psalm 94:18-19

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The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. 
Psalm 34:18
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“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 
Matthew 5:4

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 For those who have been hurt by a narcissist*, a serious amount of comfort and healing are needed.  While a certain amount of comfort can be provided by friends, there is a limit to what a friend can provide.  Even if your friends have not also been fooled or tainted by the narcissist’s deceptions, they may not really understand the damage the narcissist has done.  But even more fundamentally, no other human can truly feel everything you’re feeling.

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The Search for Intimacy, Continued

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In Part 1 we discussed the fact that most people want intimacy, especially with someone who is somehow beautiful or worthy – as illustrated by the popularity of love songs and people wanting to attach to celebrities.  But selfishness and self-centeredness on both sides of a potential “intimacy connection” makes it very difficult to actually achieve intimacy.  This is especially true in a relationship with a narcissist – their total selfishness and self-aggrandizement makes it impossible to have 2-way intimacy with them, as they really do not care about you – just themselves.  However, since the narcissist is a pro at “doing intimacy” early in a relationship, they can easily reel you in as an unsuspecting person hoping for true intimacy.  Then, when the narcissist’s true selfishness is revealed, you discover that the intimacy you thought you had is nonexistent.  The loss you feel is especially painful since you are worse off than from the time before you met the narcissist.  Going from zero “intimacy” to “100”, back to zero feels worse than if you had just stayed at zero.  Even though the “intimacy” you thought you had with the narcissist was never truly there, the sense of total loss you feel is very real.

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At the end of the day, there is only one person who is truly non-selfish, who genuinely loves us, who wants our best, who wants to know us, who wants us to know Him, and who is the most beautiful person we could ever be around.  God’s better way is to center our search for intimacy on the one relationship where intimacy is definitely possible – with Him – and then springboard from that intimacy to greater intimacy with those around us.   The intimacy with Him makes us to be less selfish, more beautiful, more compassionate ourselves – and those changes in us become the basis for greater intimacy with others.  As we become more beautiful and attractive ourselves, others will seek to be around us and closer to us.

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O Lord, You have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and [b]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. 

Psalm 139:1-3

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One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord And to meditate in His temple. 
Psalm 27:4
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We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 
I John 3:2b
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 We love, because He first loved us. 
I John 4:19
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So, the road to intimacy starts with God.  And that provides the basis for intimacy with others.  And while this will likely not result in intimacy specifically with a narcissist in our life, it will provide the truest, deepest intimacy with the greatest person possible.  That will enrich our lives and result in a beauty that is attractive to others.
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As we will see in future posts, this intimacy with God is also directly connected getting to maximum comfort and healing of hurts that have resulted from our dealings with narcissists.

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Additional Reading – to get started on the path to true intimacy

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Click here for initial steps on how to know God personally

 

 

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The Search for Intimacy, Introduction

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Many, if not most people feel a deep inward need for intimacy.  This desire can influence a lot of our decisions – it is real, and strong.  If you doubt that, just look at the success of love songs or love story movies over the years.  Of course the intimacy desired is with someone who is somehow “beautiful”.

One reason narcissists can so easily reel in unsuspecting people especially in a dating relationship is that they are very good at “doing” intimacy early in the relationship.   And they push hard for instant intimacy.  The narcissist’s “intimacy imperative” could be due to their strong drive to win you over quickly in order to achieve their  ultimate self-serving goals.   But, they could also be genuinely searching for  intimacy themselves in order to fill gaps in their own soul – even though their narcissism will ultimately undermine the intimacy they seek.

When the narcissist has won you over, and then inevitably shows their true colors of selfishness and self-exaltation, it is an especially painful  loss since you lost the intimacy that you thought you had finally found.  The “intimacy” was never on a true foundation, but the sense of loss is nonetheless very real.

It is helpful to understand that it is partially our desire for intimacy that makes us vulnerable to the narcissist.  This inward desire for intimacy is ok – and God-given.  But instead of being a source of intimacy as we originally thought, the narcissist was actually the last person who was going to provide that intimacy.  Our desire and search for intimacy contributed to our pain and sense of loss, but as we will see ahead is also the best way forward out of that pain.

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Dealing With Narcissists* – Crying Out, Seeking God – continued

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James 1:5-8

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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When dealing with an N that is driving us crazy, in addition to crying out “God help me!”, God invites us to ask Him for wisdom.  This is HIS wisdom – not human wisdom – including practical  tips, things of the heart, and even things from God’s perspective.  James says that if you ask for wisdom, He will give it to you – generously.

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But there is an important qualifier to getting this wisdom – “not doubting”.  The doubting here is not so much doubting as to whether you will receive the wisdom, but doubting as to whether you really want it – whether you really want to do things God’s way even if He gave you the clear right answers.   We know this is through James’ statement in verse 7 – ” For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”   Double-mindedness is to have two minds or opinions on the same subject – wanting to do things God’s way, but at the same time wanting what we ourselves want.  With that heart, God could tell us the right answer, and we might not even know we received the answer because we were only looking for the answer we wanted to see.  In order to ask for true wisdom in dealing with the situation, to receive it, and to KNOW that we have received it, we must start with the heart attitude that we will act on the wisdom God gives us without interjecting our own “will” into the matter.

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This invitation to ask for wisdom is in the context of trials, which James describes as tests (we will look into this later).  Of course, our challenge with our narcissist certainly qualifies as a trial and a test.

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James 1:2-4

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

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So go ahead – ask for wisdom in how to deal with your challenging narcissist.  But don’t expect to get what you are asking for unless you are truly serious about doing it His way instead of your own way.  All along being aware of the admonition in Proverbs:

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Proverbs 14:12

12 There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

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Dealing With Narcissists* – Crying Out, Seeking God

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Psalm 34:4-7

I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
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Often, we will not have any idea what to do with the difficult Narcissist-caused circumstance in which we find ourselves.  After struggling and searching about on our own for answers, we may ultimately reach the end of our rope – where the only thing we are able to do is to cry out to the Lord to help us, to save us, to deliver us.  We may not know what to ask for, but simply to ask God for a miracle.  While we may not see any immediate answers, this crying out to God and asking for help can be the first step of a process where He will bring us to much firmer ground.  We may not even see that this crying out is the first step – until we look backwards months or years in the future.
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We probably needed to get to our wit’s end, to be exhausted of all our answers, in order to motivate us to finally look up to Him for help.  And even though we made God our last resort instead of our first resort, He will graciously and lovingly respond in helping us – although it may be a process instead of a bolt-of-lightning miracle.  God has been there waiting to help us all along.

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It Hurts Worse When Its A “Friend”

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Psalm 55

12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me,
Then I could bear it;
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me,
Then I could hide myself from him.
13 But it is you, a man my equal,
My companion and my familiar friend;
14 We who had sweet fellowship together

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Our most painful encounter with a narcissist will very likely be with someone close to us.  And especially with someone we thought was a friend.  One reason is that when we expected someone to act like a friend and in exchange were stabbed in the back, it is a painful betrayal.  The other reason, as David said in verse 12, is that when we are more entangled in a relationship it is harder to avoid them – bringing us painful reminders more frequently.

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David goes on to describe their smooth words which disguise the evil in their hearts

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19 God will hear and answer them—
Even the one who sits enthroned from of old— Selah.
With whom there is no change,
And who do not fear God.
20 He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him;
He has violated his covenant.
21 His speech was smoother than butter,
But his heart was war;
His words were softer than oil,
Yet they were drawn swords.

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But as David reminds himself and says to the Lord at the end of Psalm 55

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22 Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
23 But You, O God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction;
Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days.
But I will trust in You.

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You can read the entire Psalm here

Click here for the initial steps on how to know God personally

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True Intimacy

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Underlying much of our struggle with a narcissist is our deep-down quest for true intimacy.  That desire for intimacy is what often got us involved with them in the first place.  A narcissist fakes intimacy at the beginning, but their drive for dominance and self-absorption prevents it from truly taking place.  The failure of intimacy may tempt you to throw in the towel and try again, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for it will be futile.

True intimacy arises from someone who cares about you, who knows you deeply, and who is deeply interested in what you think about it – and with you in turn caring for them and what they think about.  Imagine sitting across from your soul mate, someone you love and who loves you, and being able to say, “you have complete insight into my soul”.

That would be wonderful if you could find it in the form of another person.  How many people do you know who have found that?   People are fallible in many ways, and self-centered, to the detriment of intimacy.  Putting an expectation  of intimacy on someone who is not up to it, puts extra stress on the relationship.  Of course, as with many things a measure of intimacy is possible, even if not to the degree you might hope.

God knows that we will never be completely fulfilled apart from Him.  That’s not a self-centered move on His part, but the reality that only He is completely satisfying, and His creations – even at their best – a dim reflection of His magnificence.

Ultimate intimacy comes from God and is reflected in what are the most intimate chapters of the Bible Psalm 139.

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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.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it. 

Psalm 139:1-6

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Think of being so in love with someone that you watch their every move.  That’s what David is talking about here.  I originally of God’s awareness as an “accountability” thing.  That is true, as God does see everything we do from a moral perspective. But we can also simply take it for what it is – the God who cares for us knows us intimately.

The Bible phrases it in other ways.  For example, just think of taking your concerns, and handing them to someone who is able to carry them, and who cares enough to do so.

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“casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  

I Peter 5:7

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And one of my favorites,

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Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 

Psalm 73:25-26

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Is this just a cop-out or rationalization for a bad situation?  No. The fact is that this intimacy with God is the ultimate goal for God’s creation of us.  Paul says,

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For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.  I Corinthians 13:12

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While God knows us perfectly now, and knows that He is our true soul-mate, we can partially understand that now, but will full understand it when we see Him face to face.  In the meantime, He uses the disappointments of our current relationships to gently encourage us toward the real goal of intimacy with Him – the One who can truly satisfy us.

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Dependency

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Throughout this blog we have seen how narcissists  – those with insolent pride – seek to exert their will over others.  They want to be #1, with others serving them.  They want others to be subject to their wishes, not the other way around.  They seek to subjugate others to their “rule”.

This can be situational, such as in work place power plays.  But it can also be relational, where the N seeks full-time, permanent rule over someone – a child, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, long serving staff, etc.  In the N’s drive and continued action to achieve this, they may subjugate their target’s will to their own.  The ultimate expression of this is for the target to become dependent on the N, allowing the N massive control.

Of course, this is not Biblical.  Paul said,

You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”

I Corinthians 7:23

Just as the term “narcissism” is ill-defined and inconsistently applied, so are the concepts and terminology around dependency.

For example, Wikipedia calls codependency

A codependent is someone who cannot function on their own and whose thinking and behavior is instead organized around another person, process, or substance.  Many codependents place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships.

This is a bad thing, right?  On the other hand, my parents were also considered codependent in living together on their own into their early 90’s.  They were able to compensate for each other’s capability gaps.  In this case, codependent was a good thing.

Because dependency is a real issue for those whose lives have been strongly influenced by narcissists, we are going to take a look at it in future blog posts.  This holds personal relevance for me as well, as result of my upbringing.

We will focus on the Biblical perspective of narcissist-driven dependency, looking at causes and solutions.  In particular, we will look at how to recognize it, what it can do to us, and how to go from becoming non-Biblical people-pleasers to showing genuine strength with love.

 

 

 

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Strengthen Yourself In The Lord

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1 Samuel 30:6

Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

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I received a small bit of news yesterday that was a bit discouraging.  It was not a big deal, and it did not affect me directly, but rather someone close to me.  The person affected was not bothered much, but I hurt on his  behalf.

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As I was discouraged this morning, I remembered David’s example in I Samuel 30:6.  Things were completely falling apart for David and his crew, and to top it the people loyal to him were distressed to the point of contemplating getting rid of him.  Rather than giving up or thrashing around for a human solution, David started by “strengthening himself in the Lord”.

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How do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord?  First would be to get a little quiet space and begin talking directly with Him.  We can complain about how we feel, but need to do it respectfully and in light of His Sovereignty.  Second might be to find a Psalm that reflects the state of our heart.  And third might be to reflect on God’s unlimited love and goodness, His unlimited power, His unlimited knowledge and wisdom, and His consistent faithfulness to those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).  Finally, we can cry out to Him for HELP!.  There is no magic formula, but you will know when your heart has been strengthened in Him.

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After he was strengthened in the Lord, David was able to then see clearly enough to ask God what he was supposed to do about the situation.  God gave David the answer, and David charged forward with God providing the practical victory and ultimate solution.

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Take a look at all of I Samuel 30 to get the whole story.

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Psalm 73:25-28

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.

28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.

 

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Healing From Narcissist Abuse* – Turning Tears Into A Life-giving Spring

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Psalm 84:5-7

5 How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
6 Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring;
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
7 They go from strength to strength,
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.

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The “valley of Baca” is most often understood to be the “Valley of Weeping”. There are times in our lives when we do go through a period of sorrow and weeping – and suffering at the hands of a narcissist in our life is typically one of those times.

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Psalm 84 says that it is actually possible during those times for us to

  • “Make it (our weeping) a spring” – to turn our hurt and sorrow into a source of life and vitality for ourselves and those around us
  • “Go from strength to strength” – to remain strong and even gain additional strength
  • “Appear before God in Zion” – to not lose our faith in God and in His love and goodness.

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The keys for doing this are found in verse 4 –

  • “Whose strength is in You (God)” – Rather than primarily relying on other sources – which will most likely fail us at some point – looking to God and relying on His strength to uphold us
  • “In whose heart are the highways to Zion” – consistently seeking God, His wisdom, His ways

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Our natural instinct is to attempt to scratch out small human solutions to our hurts……but God says that the real key to transforming our hurts into something good is to make Him the heart of the solution.

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Don’t Worry About “Ministry Limitations” Due To N’s

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Matthew 25:20-23

20 “The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your [a]master.’

22 “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’”

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Christians concerned about how God settles accounts for eternity may have a fear that a narcissist in their life could be limiting them from achieving as much as they “should”.  The parable that Jesus told in Matthew 25 clearly explains that eternal rewards are based on being faithful before God with what we have been given, and not on how “productive” we have been. Continue reading

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Dealing With Narcissists* – They Ultimately Don’t Get Away With It

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Those who have been hurt by a narcissist that appears to “get away with it” can really struggle with bitterness and a deep desire for “justice” to be done.  This often results in a continued obsession with the narcissist and what he/she has done, and a corresponding inability to “move on” or focus on your own following after God.

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Narcissists are pros at shifting blame, covering up, lying their way out of things, and making you think it was your fault – all the while seeming to never really receive consequences for their actions commensurate with the pain which they have inflicted.  Especially when they just flippantly move on to their next target.  One aspect of coming to a point of peace in what happened to you at the hands of the narcissist is understanding clearly that in the end God will deal with them – and we can and should leave that to Him.

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Romans 12:19

19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

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The Rivers Will Not Overflow You

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Isaiah 43:1-3

43 But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.

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This classic, beautiful statement by God to His beloved Israel is a clear reminder to us that when God allows us to go through deep waters He will be with us in it, and that He will not allow those deep waters to overcome us.

But we might say, “that applies to Israel, and not me”.  He repeats the same sentiment toward believers in Romans 8:28-39 when He says that nothing can separate us from His love.

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How Can I Heal? Psalm 56

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Psalm 56

56 Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me.
My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.

When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise, Continue reading

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God Heals By Humbling – John Piper

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A devotional by John Piper, excerpted from his message “The Lofty One Whose Name is Holy

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“I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners, creating the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the LORD, “and I will heal him.” (Isaiah 57:18–19)

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“In spite of the severity of man’s disease of rebellion and willfulness, God will heal. How will he heal? Isaiah 57:15 says that God dwells with the crushed and humble. Yet the people of Isaiah 57:17 are brazenly pursuing their own proud way. What will a healing be?

It can only be one thing. God will heal them by humbling them. He will cure the patient by crushing his pride. If only the crushed and humble enjoy God’s fellowship (Isaiah 57:15), and if Israel’s sickness is a proud and willful rebellion (Isaiah 57:17), and if God promises to heal them (Isaiah 57:18), then his healing must be humbling and his cure must be a crushed spirit.

Isn’t this Isaiah’s way of prophesying what Jeremiah called the new covenant and Jeremiah called a new heart? He said, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel. . . . I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31, 33).

Isaiah and Jeremiah both see a time coming when a sick, disobedient, hard-hearted people will be supernaturally changed. Isaiah speaks of healing. Jeremiah speaks of writing the law on their hearts.

So the healing of Isaiah 57:18 is a major heart transplant — the old hardened, proud, willful heart is taken out and a new soft, tender heart is put in which is easily humbled and crushed by the memory of sin and the sin that remains.

This is a heart that the lofty One whose name is Holy can dwell with and give life to.”

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective

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