It’s Narcissist Friday!
Over and over I get the question as to whether a narcissist can be saved. Saved in more ways than one. Could he ever become a Christian? Could she ever stop being a narcissist? In spite of my doubt, I have to say that such a thing is possible.
But what would that look like? Would the narcissist all of a sudden become nice and thoughtful? Probably not. In fact, narcissists are quite able to adapt their behavior to whatever is necessary at the time. They are accomplished liars and performers and they know how to get people to think well of them. So, if you tell a narcissist that a change would look a certain way, you can be sure that he (if he is sufficiently motivated) will be able to accomplish that change—at least for a while. As many of us know, the behavior associated with salvation is relatively easy to fake.
So I would look for something different. The first change within the narcissist would be change in how he views himself. The drive of the narcissist is to measure up to the image he has created for the purpose of being accepted. If he were willing to reject that image and find rest in Jesus; that would be something. The narcissist never really rests. He must continually support and defend the image. But Jesus gives us rest.
Many people have found healing for their hearts in Jesus. People have found acceptance in spite of parental rejection, spousal abandonment, sexual abuse. Finding and trusting the love of Jesus heals from the inside. Those old shames or fears or angers fade away in the face of the love of Jesus. To know that there is a person, a real and living person, who accepts you even when you fail, is a powerful balm for the soul. The heart of the narcissist was broken long ago and narcissism is the working out of the pain and shame and fear that is left. Jesus can heal that by His love.
But life patterns are hard to break. As we grow up, we establish a system of doing things, a way of coping with the struggle. If the hurt that caused our way is healed, the system doesn’t just leave us. It has become the default we use through life. The narcissist does what he does out of habit, that’s why it is easy for him to continue and hard for him to stop. I wouldn’t expect compassion and empathy from the narcissist right away, but I would look for those things to be naturally expressed and I would look for a sincere desire to feel those things toward others. If the healing within is real, then the healing on the outside can begin.
Jesus said. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Your treasure is what you protect at all costs, what you live to serve, what you never want others to touch. No, for the narcissist, that is not the image. Even though it seems like the narcissist treasures his image, the truth is that the image is what he has set up to protect his treasure. As long as he can get you to focus on the image, you will not look for his treasure.
The treasure of the narcissist is that broken little boy or girl, hidden away and protected by layers and layers of insulation and shielding. That’s where the narcissist’s heart is, with that little sad child. Jesus knows that little child. Jesus loves that little child. Jesus can set that little child free.
I know there are narcissists who read this blog. Please consider what I have said. There is Someone who loves you, a person who knows the whole truth. He knows your weakness and your failures and your shame. Come to Jesus and let Him heal you. If you write to me, I will talk with you and pray for you. But you don’t need me, you need Jesus.
If you love a narcissist, pray that Jesus would break through those layers of protection and get to that child. I don’t know what will happen for you when Jesus heals that child. Trust that Jesus loves you as much as He loves the narcissist. There may be dramatic change, but trust Him.
(Now, someone should be thinking: “But I’m not a narcissist and I still struggle with the hurts of the past and the patterns they created in my life. Don’t we all?” Let me come back to that next week. The answer: the healing Jesus offers is strong enough for us to let those things go so we can be the people He knows us to be. If you are a believer and have not found the rest He offers, then seek it. It is there for you.)