Narcissism and Grace

It seems like it is about time for me to make the connection between my message of grace and thoughts on narcissism again.  When I began to understand what life apart from grace looked like, that attempt to live the Christian life under the law, I saw narcissism.  Not all of my teaching on narcissism has been in the context of the Christian faith, but that’s how it started for me.  I knew people who were cruel and manipulative, extremely insensitive to the feelings of others, who claimed to be believers and lovers of Jesus.  Some of them fell into the category of narcissistic.

But there was another common thread among these folks.  They tried very hard to look right, do right, and be thought of as right.  They were impatient and unkind toward those who didn’t measure up and simply dismissed those who didn’t try.  Their lives were frustrating and, often, angry.  I began to understand that they simply could not rest in Jesus.  The concepts of rest and trust were foreign to them.

It was no coincidence, of course, that they followed teachers who fed their drive to do more.  It was also no coincidence that those teachers took advantage of their feelings of inferiority and taught them systems and formulas that promised success in life if followed perfectly.  When the formulas didn’t work, the people were to blame—and they accepted the blame and the shame as they always had.

I began to understand that the narcissist was very weak, in spite of his ability to be so cruel.  I realized that narcissists were addicted to praise and attention because they were so afraid that people would judge the real state of their lives.  And I saw the victims of the narcissists, usually wives or children, who lived defeated and confused.

So now, as I write about living in grace, I find myself thinking that the activities of those who are under grace are the very things the narcissists lack.  Rest in the Lord.  Trust in His love.  Accept that you are accepted.  The narcissist suffers and hurts others because he doesn’t do these things.  He is truly stuck under the law—a law he has accepted and believes is still for him (and the rest of us).

Under the law there is no hope.  There is only the frustration of never being able to measure up.  Under the law it is all about me.  My definition of good.  My standards.  My measurements.  My success.  Under the law, we have little choice but to be narcissistic.

But under grace there is love and acceptance.  I no longer have to measure up.  I seek only to walk with the Lord who loves me.  And I can learn to love others.

Is there hope for the narcissist?  Only in the grace of Jesus Christ.

7 Comments

Filed under Freedom, grace, Grace definition, heart, Legalism, Narcissism, Relationship

7 responses to “Narcissism and Grace

  1. Rebekah Grace

    “Under the law there is no hope. There is only the frustration of never being able to measure up. Under the law it is all about me. My definition of good. My standards. My measurements. My success. Under the law, we have little choice but to be narcissistic.

    But under grace there is love and acceptance. I no longer have to measure up. I seek only to walk with the Lord who loves me. And I can learn to love others.”

    LOVED THIS!!!

    “Is there hope for the narcissist? Only in the grace of Jesus Christ.”

    So…….we’re really no different. The narcissist and I. The grace of Jesus Christ was, is and always will be my only hope too.

  2. Hi Rebekah! I still owe you an email. 🙂

    You are so right – the only hope any of us have is the love of the Father and the grace of Jesus. So often the message about narcissism is bleak and discouraging. These people hardly ever change. But it isn’t that change is impossible. It’s that change is only found in yielding to Jesus. And, yes, I believe that is possible even for a narcissist.

    Thanks!

  3. Angelica

    I am a 27 year old female narcissist . I was diagnosed 7 years ago. my life has been a whirwind of using people and doing anything i can to obtain praise and attention. So many times i have searched online for an encouraging word, something to give me hope. I have accepted this shell-like eistance, for it is all i know. I mourn the loss of my authentic self. I know that only God can take this unbearable pain away from me. What i think loved ones of narcissists done realize is this: – we did not choose this life. We endured such pain in the formative years of our life, when we were dependant on our parents, and they betratyed us. The choice to be a robot, to live life as if it were a screenplay, was as much ours as the color of our skin. I am the victim, and in whatever capacity i am able, i am sorry for the way I am. I long to be loved, and more importantly, I long for the ability to love myself.
    Only the Lord can help this pained child

    • Angelica, what you write here is so important for others to understand and it breaks my heart. Yes, I believe there is more than hope for you! God can and God will bring the healing you need as you trust HIm and let Him in.

      My post for today is an answer for you. I have taken out your name so that others can read it as a note to them also. But, I wrote it for you. Please send me an email and ask anything or tell me anything. You can reach me through the Contact Me tab on the top of this page. Otherwise, you can send me an email directly at: dave (at) gracefortheheart.org

  4. Elizabeth Lopez

    Hello, I am a person who is in love with a Narcissist. As a Christian, I believe that he can change. He’s empathetic to all my needs and only thinks of himself. I have been the only person who has stood by him and loved him unconditionally. I spoke with his sister-in-law who is struggling with her husband who is also a Narcissist. She is also a Christian. She cries and suffers a lot in her marriage. Can you please help us find a support group or find hope in giving us information, testimonies or anything that will helps us.
    Respectfully, Elizabeth.

    • Elizabeth,

      Thanks so much for writing to me. I am happy to give whatever encouragement or ideas I can, but I don’t know of any support group for someone who wants to stay in a relationship with a narcissist. In fact, almost everyone who has been the victim of a narcissist will tell you the same thing – get out while you can. Before there is a marriage or children, before you have lost yourself in his problem, before you have alienated your family and friends – get out of the relationship.
      Now, that said, I understand it isn’t what you want to hear, even though you have probably heard it before. So let me just tell you some of the things I have learned about narcissists.

      First, the “super power” of a narcissist is to manipulate what people think of them. If he is a narcissist, then he has done what it takes to get you to love him. He has listened, sacrificed, and shown much kindness. Later, when he no longer needs your love, he will not do these things.

      Second, he neither understands nor cares about what you feel if he is a narcissist. He will pretend to care, in order to get what he wants, but he simply cannot. You mention that he has empathy and he only thinks of himself. If he is a narcissist, he is unable to empathize with you. He is simply very good at making you think he does.

      Third, if he is a narcissist, he will not desire real change. In fact, he will never let anyone get close enough to his real thoughts and motives to help him change. Like you, I believe God can do anything, even change the heart of a narcissist. But I also believe that the person has to want real change and extremely few narcissistic people see anything wrong with themselves so they would want to change. The problems in their lives are the fault of others.

      Fourth, other people have been used and tossed aside by him, if he is a narcissist. This may be why he feels that others are against him. When he no longer needed to be nice to them, they began to see the truth about him. You have stood by him because he has not yet hurt you enough for you to leave.

      Fifth, if he is a narcissist, he will hurt you. Your sis-in-law is in your life for a reason. She is showing you the pain of living with a narcissist. Believe her pain. Narcissists use and abuse, but they do not love.

      Of course, I don’t know your situation and I don’t know whether or not he is actually a narcissist. Nor do I want to say that he is some kind of terrible person who deserves to be pushed away. I only know what I have experienced and observed from narcissists and what others have told me about their situations. When I teach about narcissism to counselors, I use a short clip from an interview with Dr. Drew Pinsky and another counselor. They are being interviewed by Katie Couric on a morning news show about narcissism. She asks a question like: “What if I find myself in a relationship with a narcissist? What do I do?” The two counselors gave the same answer: Get out!

      As Christians, you and I want to believe that people can change and that there is good in each person worth finding. The truth is that people only change if they see the need for change. Ask yourself if he wants to change, really. Has he actually done anything toward changing? Does he see the pain he causes others or does he just blame them?

      Please write to me again. I do care and I am praying for you.

  5. I am 46 years old and have only come to discover that I have been married to a Narcissist. Most things mentioned above like, the lack of grace, living under the law, no love, cruelty, jealousy, insecurity and of course very charming and always the victim, are absolutes. For years I have lived confused and believing that the problem was me. But while studying for my Theology Degree, God started to open my spiritual eyes, so I started to question some of my husbands behaviour and accusations, but he had the ability to justify everything leaving me so confused – which lead to a break down and a number of strokes. It was once I graduated and the abuse started to escalated I chose to remove myself and children and went to family … It was in this period my spiritual eyes started to open and realised that he had already abandoned us as a family. And was trying to find ways to keep/remain within the Mission Organisation who was sponsoring, yet rid himself of me our 2 daughters. The extent of his campaign to attack my Character had spread across the globe and to anybody who would listen – majority women – vulnerable women. This went as far as him convincing many that I was mentally ill, with multiple personalities and needed deliverance, a bad mother and un-submissive wife – even people who knew me were convinced and a Heart-4-Truth Team set up in my home church – which came to a quick halt when his true fruits started to surface and he was challenged. After being humiliated to put it mildly, separated from my children, financially abused and even made homeless. The best thing I ever could of done was to leave him… I married for life and hate that my hand was forced. Yet my God is just and a loving God and He would not expect me or anybody to remain in such a destructive, soul destroying marriage. My advice to anybody out there, is to leave before its to late… Nothing can express the pain of still being in-love with phantom or worst, seeing the pain in your children’s eyes.

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