Unconditional love

It’s Narcissist Friday!   

 

For Christians, Good Friday reminds us of the day Jesus went to the cross for us. We who were sinners, broken and hurting others in our brokenness, needed something more than we could ever get for ourselves. Although we needed a change of thinking, we needed more than new ideas. Although we needed forgiveness, we needed more than just cleansing from our sin. We needed new life.

When Jesus came, He came to give us life. The primary message of the passion is the message of the cost of that life. Jesus suffered, bled, and died to give us life.  His life.  Life in relationship with Him.

Thinking Christians are aware of the great love our Lord has for us. We are only able to come into His presence, to seek what we need, because of that love. That love makes all the difference. We who deserve nothing from the Almighty God, receive everything because of that love. No matter what we have done, He loves us. No matter what we are doing or will do, He still loves us. That kind of love humbles us.

Then we look at the people around us and we are impressed that we, who have received such love, ought to love them. Even the most difficult people in our lives. Even the narcissists. And then we feel guilty.

Fairly often someone asks me how to love a narcissist. I flippantly answer, “From a distance!” I am not being facetious, though. Sometimes the only way to keep loving is to keep that distance.

So how do we, as Christians, love the narcissists? How do we show them the kind of love Jesus showed us?

 

Some thoughts:

1. You are not Jesus. You will never be able to give the narcissist what he/she needs. Your love will never be enough.  The best you can do is bring the narcissist to Jesus for His love.  But even that result is not in your hands.

2. Love does not always demand your presence. I am impressed with how often Jesus withdrew from the people. He was human and needed rest and space. (Luke 5:16) He took care of Himself. How can you get by with less?

3. Jesus did not entrust Himself to the people. (John 2:24) That means that He did not allow them to command His time and energy or to decide His purpose.  He did not allow them to define Him.  Narcissists are driven to control. You don’t have to let them control you.

4. Jesus knew the truth and spoke the truth about people. (John 8:44) He said hard things that people did not want to hear. Then He allowed them to accept or reject His words.  He knew that some people lied when they expressed their affection for or interest in Him.  He knew they just wanted to use Him.

5. Jesus understood that there was a time to walk away. (Mark 6:11) Those who did not want a relationship with Him were free to go their way without Him.  Let Him lead you to know when that time will be. It may be that He tells you to stay longer, and He may give you freedom to leave.

 

Now, my point with all of this is to say that the One who is love most amazing, who loves most generously, who gives and serves most sacrificially—even He allowed limits. There was nothing He would not do for them, but only if it would truly help them. He didn’t walk around giving money to everyone or even healing everyone.  He reached out to those who wanted what He offered.  He would forgive them, empower them, set them free—if they wanted. If they didn’t want it, He would respect them and Himself enough to walk away. And, all the while, He was loving them.

When we talk about unconditional love, we often think that means putting up with anything no matter what the outcome. But when it becomes clear that it is not helping for us to continue and that the person we are trying to love is not willing to receive what we offer, then there comes a time to walk away. And, even then, we can love them. We can continue to pray for them, to bring them to Jesus. We can do that from a distance. We can be safe and productive and never see the person—and still love them. But we don’t have to continue to put up with their abuse.

Narcissists may say they want a relationship with you, but they only want someone to serve them.  They need people to use.  Allowing them to use you is not love.  They want your service, loyalty, and energy–not your love.  Your love offers relationship.

It is not love that moves a person to become passive and victimized in a relationship. Love means offering something of yourself to another. If you have no more to give, or if what you give is never enough, perhaps the problem is not yours. Perhaps what keeps you in the abusive relationship is guilt or shame or fear or desire, but it isn’t love.  Duty is not love.

Over the past few years I have worked to respond to a movement in the culture that says God saves people even when they don’t want Him to. There are teachers who say that God will somehow, someday, make everyone respond to His love. But that is not love. That is control.

The One who went to the cross for you and me, offers His love freely and allows us to accept or reject what He wants to give. The truth reminds me of a t-shirt I once saw: “Not all sinners want to be forgiven.” And there it is. Jesus offers forgiveness in a relationship. Those who want the life He offers, will find the forgiveness that comes with it.  There is no end to the love of God and no limit other than respect, respect for the will of those who want no part of relationship.

Sometimes people just want to take your time, money, loyalty, service, and anything else they can get. They don’t want your love, your life. They just want to use you. They don’t want a relationship with you as a person. Love is relationship. Love is sharing. That’s what Jesus offers to all of us. That’s what you offer to the narcissist. But when it is clear that the one to whom love is offered really doesn’t want it, it may be time to move on.

28 Comments

Filed under Narcissism, Relationship

28 responses to “Unconditional love

  1. MeganC

    I just wanted to shout, “Amen!” each time I read each paragraph! What affirmation for us! Happy Easter!

  2. grace551

    Your articles are so good.

  3. Amen!! Yes!! You said it much better but that is the message I have been trying to convey. Reblogging!

  4. Carol

    I appreciate your wisdom today. These are perhaps very painful words for those who are still trying their hardest to figure out a way to have a relationship with a narcissist. But one needs to begin hearing this and allowing their eyes to see the reality. It can be a slow process. Good Friday is a difficult day for the world, but also can be a reminder that Jesus is our only hope. We each need a source of security when we detach from a narcissist. Jesus is that true security.

  5. Liz

    Wow, Dave, this post is so powerful. It really spoke to me. For the past 18 months, I have realized that I try to be Jesus instead of being like Jesus. I have tried to rescue people instead of letting Jesus do it. God has also shown me that I thought I was more merciful than He is. How wrong & foolish! God cannot be mocked–as a man sows, so he will reap. Trying to rescue the narcissist from the consequences of his/her actions is hindering God from using those consequences to change that person. Only God can rescue us from our sin. Let him do it!

  6. healingInHim

    Thank you for posting this. It is so well written. I was attempting to share just a few quotes with someone and then sighed and realized it was best to forward the whole article! 🙂 May the Lord be glorified through this ministry.

  7. Kitkat

    Beautiful! I’ve reposted on Facebook! Superb!

  8. cmkacher@charter.net

    wow, this is something I want to keep

    Sent from Windows Mail

  9. st

    These words sink into the depths of me and I am so very grateful to God for them. You pinpointed my heavy heart today, exactly. How can I, who has been forgiven so much and been loved so greatly by Jesus, reject my own Mother and not show her grace??? So much guilt ensues. But the enemy twists my thoughts in circles and I am brought back to the mighty truth of all that you have said. This life with Jesus is both so hard and so good.

  10. Tonya Scarborough

    Having appropriate boundaries is a loving act – good for you and the people around you.

  11. SweetJane72

    Another perfect post. Thank you.

    I have a request, if you are able and someday find the time to write it. Please write a post –maybe like this one?– that I could share with my children. My boys are 10 and 13, and I struggle with how to explain their father and his actions to them in ways that are appropriate. I don’t want to speak negatively of him, but I also want them to understand that his actions and choices are not a reflection of who THEY are, but rather who HE is. It’s very tough to find that balance.

    • Sam

      Excellent article. I am so grateful for you consustently sharing the truth with us. I look forward to Fridays now– to read a new post. They are always challenging and applicable. God loves the truth. Thank you for helping us to see it and apply it to our lives.
      Can you expound on #2, “How can you get by with less?” I did not quite understand that idea.
      Thank you and happy Easter!

  12. UnForsaken

    Acceptance and the mutual sharing of love, how beautiful that is! I made a comment on the last article before reading this one, and find that this is amazingly cohesive with my train of thought. You put this so well, Dave!

    SweetJane72, your request would be a great one for all of us. It seems the nasty desire of Narcs to absorb our individuality at a young age, and we are left wondering who is guilty and which way to look. Of course the answer is “They are” and “UP”, but we need some guidance pointing in the right direction, at least if you’re me!

    Another article I would love to read, Pastor Dave, would be on how to deal with the subtle day in, day out whack at boundaries and shaming. How can we stand our ground without rocking the boat? One thing I deal with a lot is the Enabler giving a compliment ( “Great meal” ), with a correction tacked on ( “…but don’t do this to mine next time.”) It usually happens in lump sums and I believe it is an obvious attempt at feeling in control because of the N, or jealousy at something you did. I always seem to be with enablers who thinks they have the right to tell people what to do, and it seems impossible to protest if they are a near relation. Ideas?!

    Happy Easter, everyone! Praying for health and blessing for the season that reminds us most of new life.

    • Melody

      Hey I just skimmed your post and had a thought that may or may not be helpful: by definition when we stand firm it may rock the boat for some…I’m finding that just my free existence is enough to upset some people, so I’m not sure we can always protect ourselves from drama as a consequence to settling boundaries. I do believe we can detach from other people’s problems though and be clear in our own conscience. Tge example you gave of behavior sounds very familiar and I can identify with that. I have found I can either ignore it and live my life or challenge behavior by speaking up but either way and however gentle and kind I am I seem to rock the boat by my very freedom! Sorry if that is little help. It was just some thoughts that came to mind from my experience. Sorry to hear you are dealing with that. It can wear you down.

      • UnForsaken

        Melody, you’re spot on. One way or the other I always turn out “being wrong”, so no matter what the result it’s important to follow my conscience. Isn’t it strange that insecure people – Ns or not – take our freedom and individuality as a challenge? I wonder if it’s jealousy at having something they can’t comprehend.

        I’m looking for ideas because although I’ve lived in the same house with it for years, now I’m looking at some more wave making changes that need to happen. Your reply is a great affirmation and I probably need that more than ideas. I love being in a place where others can see these things actually happening. Thanks Melody!

  13. AES

    Praise God that he loves us so much that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life! I thank God for his unconditional love, mercy, grace and forgiveness! I have great sorrow inside at the same time as my husband of 20 years (this year) has a lot of the narcissistic characteristics and at one point in time we almost divorced but then reconciled and sometimes I wish I never did but I was wanting things to work out so badly and also looking at the need of improvements with my own flaws and wanting to be forgiving and not judgmental. I am now just so tired of feeling like I got to hide around with the way I feel and of always worrying about how to best state something a certain way so that husband would not take something out of context and worry how his defenses and anger rise so quickly and then twisting things back on to me and then how he would have enough nerve to twist things around to others and even twist things with our kids about our marital issues and I would have to explain how it wasn’t like the way he presented it and it doesn’t even seem like he recognizes how his behavior is and how it affects others and what is confusing about all this mess is sometimes he can be okay and does have some good qualities. I’m so lost about what to do and am considering this one intensive counseling program as maybe it would help to open us both up to things but at same time I am afraid that my husband may not commit or put for the effort but I also know that all things are possible with God and only God can open his heart and bring healing! I also want to say thank you to Dave for your ministry and your sincere desire to help others!

  14. Andre

    I loved and still love a woman who has NPD. I have been no contact with her for 18 months. NPD, time will prove, is a biological brain disorder, similar to autism. Anyone who has loved an NPD person loves the person underneath the illness. My NPD girlfriend discarded me, but I send her love from a distance.

    I’m praying Jesus send me someone who reciprocates and loves me back.

  15. Melody

    Amen. Sometimes from the way my family growing up operated I would look at Jesus and think how could he be so harsh with people. I misunderstood direct and truthful as harsh because I was not taught to let my yes be yes and my yes be no. People didn’t always say what they meant or mean what they say. In Jesus I find a gracious yet assertive character and his grace is not negated by his honesty. I love that. This post came at a good time for me, thanks!

  16. Thank you again, Pastor Dave!

    I don’t know where the idea of the “doormat” Christian came from (maybe a narcissist?), but I do know this idea is dangerous and hurtful to Christians who are already hurting. Love and compassion, yes. Believing you’re obligated to let someone abuse you, no. Yes, Jesus went to the cross, and we are saved by his wounds. But do your wounds save the narcissist? Heck no. Your wounds embolden the narcissist to inflict more. So sad.

  17. Abbi

    I cannot express how much the Lord is using your Friday blogs to give me insight, wisdom and peace when dealing with the N in my life. I always look forward to Fridays! Thank you!

  18. Wallace

    Yes only Jesus can truly heal the N’s “Dis-Ease” – The only relationship they have is with themselves…………… by definition they are only “Self-Lovers” – An entirely closed relationship of one. Their only lover is themselves, period. Tragicly they are unable to love “outwardly”. Yes stay clear as they despise true love in others as it only enrages them – envy – that they don’t have any, reminding them that they are entirely empty. Happy Easter All – Hope is all around us!!!!!

  19. HDG

    Wallace: Sadly,this is so very true.My N professed the love of a “good Christian man”(his words) while being bent(by actions) on the destruction of me. I MUST continue no contact while I continue to pray for US. The hope for healing for both the N and those who love them is found in Jesus.Happy Easter! HE is risen! Alleluia!

  20. Kathy

    Interesting and wonderful article. Some people don’t want God, don’t want to be saved.
    Some people try to force you to do things against your will. That’s abuse.
    They forcibly try to bend your will to do their bidding.
    Something God Himself wouldn’t do to you. Free will is sacred, and God doesn’t interfere with what He Himself gave you.
    The N sees himself as higher than God.

  21. Laura

    Oh goodness, what an amazing blog post. These bullet points also work when helping people away from narcissists and abusive relationships.

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