It’s Narcissist Friday!
Of all the questions I get, this might be the hardest. The narcissist hurts so many so deeply. Why doesn’t God intervene? Especially when the narcissist claims to be a Christian. Why doesn’t God just change his heart?
One of the first narcissists I ever identified as such was someone I had considered a friend and colleague. He was always pretty self-focused and had a hard time listening to others and treating them with respect (even though he had a degree in counseling). I watched as he manipulated his way into a position of power and prestige and then gave full rein to his narcissistic tendencies. He became a demanding and vindictive leader.
His attitude toward others, especially those “under” him, was dismissive and mercenary. He would use them and abandon them, often calling them names and making disparaging remarks about their work. He realized that he held power over them and he used it. If they didn’t honor him and obey him to the extent that he desired, he would destroy their careers. Eventually he turned on me.
So I prayed. I prayed a lot. I prayed that he would change. I prayed that God would remove him from his position. I prayed that he would be stopped and punished. I was even willing to help God. 😉
And the result of all those prayers? He is still in the same position doing the same things nearly ten years later. Why didn’t God do something?
Well, one of the many, many times I was praying about his cruelty and the unfairness with which he treated people, I just sort of gave up. I said, “Lord, you will have to deal with him.” I was seriously thinking of taking charges through the system and getting my hands dirty to end this monster’s reign. But there was little I could do and I realized it. So I gave him over to the Lord. I thought I was being spiritually strong and right.
I am not one that expects to hear audible answers to my prayers. I lift up my concerns to the Lord and simply trust that He will do what is right. When I prayed that time, I expected that God would do something in His own way and in His own time. But I received one of the clearest messages from the Lord in my life.
I said, “Lord, you will have to deal with him.”
He said, “Or not!”
Honestly, it was a shock to me. Almost as strong as if the Lord had been in the back seat of my car that night, I heard those two words. I understood them immediately. It wasn’t my place to tell God what He had to do. My place was to take my concern and lay it in His hands, and then trust Him.
I had to do what the Lord was telling me to do, within the situation, and not be quite so concerned about what the narcissist was doing. Yes, it was wrong and it hurt people. But fixing it was not given to me and telling God what He should do and when He should do it was not my place. I was humbled and I have not forgotten.
Now, I wasn’t married to this guy. For the most part, I could avoid him and move on with my life. So I am not trying to belittle the struggles of those who have to deal with their narcissist day in and day out. Not at all. I have respect for your struggle and your perseverance.
But I suspect the answer to my initial question lies somehow in what I learned. Our part is to pray. His part is to decide what is best and when. We pray, not to get something accomplished, but to express our pain. He hears and He gives comfort to us. But whether or not He will change our situation remains to be seen.
Why doesn’t God change the narcissist’s heart? Perhaps He is. Perhaps He is working, ever so methodically, to convince the narcissist of His love and repair the damage that was done so long ago. It might take a long time. And maybe the narcissist isn’t interested in changing. God won’t force him. God might actually put more pressure on the narcissist to show him that he needs help. That pressure may make things seem worse for a while. The work of the Lord is His work. He does it His way and in His time.
But He has heard your prayers and He knows your pain. He loves you and offers you comfort and peace in Him. To Him you are valuable, even precious. To Him you are worth loving. He has not forgotten you and He has not abandoned you. Come to Him and find what you need, right now in the situation. Let Him worry about changing the narcissist. Or not.