But You

It’s Narcissist Friday!     

 

Throughout the New Testament, there are statements about people and how they handle life. Often, there is a negative statement about some unfortunate decisions or lifestyles followed by: “but you…”. You, according to the Lord, are supposed to be different. You have the tools, the internal strength, the wisdom, and the motivation to be different. You are not the same as you were and not the same as those who do wrong. The Christian is expected to be different.

Last week I wrote about “Trickle-down Narcissism,” a phenomenon we see in many organizations and relationships where narcissistic leaders seem to produce such a strong culture that others follow their footsteps. These others, not narcissists, act like narcissists because they mimic the leaders.

But you… Now, I know that most of us can identify narcissistic behaviors in ourselves. I am not making excuses, but those behaviors are not who we really are. In fact, we hate seeing that in ourselves. Most of our awareness comes from the intense search we made to understand the narcissists in our lives, or from the projections of the narcissists of their behaviors on us. What that means is that they blamed us for the things they did, convincing us that we were the problem. But we were not the same as they were.

I am not going to say that we are better than the narcissists. That kind of comparison almost always takes us down the wrong path. Instead, let’s just honestly say that we don’t think like they do. Nor do we want to think like they do. The truth is that we don’t want to act like narcissists.

But you… Sometimes it seems that we are surrounded by narcissists, doesn’t it? More and more, almost everywhere we go. Sometimes the relationship with the narcissist is so consuming that it seems to be our entire world. Those manipulations, those contorted values, those devious and treacherous ways—they fill our world and begin to feel almost normal. It doesn’t take long for us to begin to justify narcissistic behavior. “It was cruel, but she deserved it.” “It was harsh, but he had to hear it.” “It’s the way business is done today.” “If you can’t take the criticism, maybe you shouldn’t be in the job.” We begin to find it easy to make excuses for the cruelty.

But you… You are different. You don’t have to do what they do. Not only can you resist the creeping narcissism, you can overcome it in your heart. You can choose to be kind and caring. You can succeed where the narcissist fails. The gentle thoughts can lead to gracious acts. Your way does not have to be lost in the narcissist’s influence.

You can and should be the person you want to be. No matter how long you have been with the narcissist, no matter how intimate the relationship has been, you are a separate person. You are you, not him/her. Even when you find yourself acting the way he/she does, you are still an independent person. And you are free to act differently.

Narcissism might trickle down. It might be contagious. But it doesn’t have to be. Yes, there might be a price to pay for maintaining that difference between you and the narcissism, but the price of compromise will be greater. You may have to find a new job. You may have to stay away from that friend or group. You may have to refuse to participate in whatever actions hurt others.

But you… you can do this.

14 Comments

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14 responses to “But You

  1. Charlene

    Thank you!

  2. Stephanie

    Thank you.

  3. Grace551

    I think all your posts are good, but this is especially good. Thank you.

  4. Lea Anna Curtis

    Yes….tis true..when God reveals to you that they are like that. I wish the awareness of narcissism was more and that preachers taught against pride and self-centeredness more and taught empathy is critical in true love.

  5. On the Healing Journey

    This is so true, Pastor Dave. As Romans 12 states, we aren’t supposed to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are called to be different, to be salt and light. It can be difficult, but God’s grace and strength are sufficient for our weakness. We are called to not return evil for evil, and to overcome evil with good.

  6. clayvessel

    Thank you, Pastor Dave. Very helpful thoughts, that I can stop now the patterns of thought and reaction I might have picked up from the N, or might have developed as a defense against being used and discarded. The very life of Jesus in me, by faith and by His Spirit, gives me that grace. But oh, turning the boat to go against the stream of thought of today is hard! (Public opinion sees VIRTUE in N-actions, or at least thinks hey, you should just shrug it off, don’t let it bother you – and so it just adds another layer of mental/emotional abuse to that of the N.)

    Maybe having a malignant narcissistic person in our life (or more than one, for some of us) is a backwards blessing sometimes – if we needed a reminder that this world is NOT truly our home, and we are pilgrims in it, that it has been corrupted in all its ways and only He can ‘fix’ it (the complete redemption when He comes to rule over all the earth in His Father’s name)… well, I wonder sometimes what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was, sometimes. 😉

  7. Sandra

    I want to take the time to tell you how much your weekly posts help me. Especially this one – thank you, thank you, thank you! I am in a difficult situation living with a mother who is a narcissist. She was so much worse raising me and it took me years to understand the pathology of her behavior and realize the effect on me. There is still a set pattern of behavior that is still extremely difficult to live with – the rules of rational behavior do not apply and I have begun to return bad behavior with bad behavior which only makes it worse, and than I am angry at myself, angry at God,and angry in general . So your post today was from God’s heart to your website and I appreciate you and your wisdom every week. Your ministry is one that reaches a silent group struggling to make sense of people who have train wrecks disguised as narcissists and battling to stay off the tracks and avoid being smashed or worse, as Clayvessel put it “being used and discarded” – yea, I’ve had a lifetime of that. Thank you for showing me how to stand up to and deal with the behavior of the narcissist – a consummate liar among other things, not to get even but to do it as the person I truly am – in Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Not being a door mat but not becoming a train wreck myself. So many times I have been helped by your weekly letter and I haven’t voiced my deep appreciation. I bypass most other emails to get to this weekly lifeline of wisdom and sunshine! God bless you and thank you!

    • SAM

      Yes, the wisdom and sunshine are most refreshing!

    • Karen

      I am so encouraged and hope -filled by posts from people such as yourself. We as a family had to part ways with a dear little boy we considered our grandchild. His mother was married to our son for a very brief time before the whole narcissist card played out. We fell for everything she played out and we embraced her and loved her completely as well as her dear sweet little boy whom we embraced as our grandchild and loved with the love that grandparents have for their dear grandchildren. My heart breaks for this dear sweet boy everyday as I see the whole scenario playing out again with someone new she has brought into her life and ultimately his. I struggle so much with how God can allow this to happen to a poor unsuspecting child who is forming his identity and thought process off of what his mother is doing. I pray fervently for this little boy. He came into our lives just before his first birthday and he was taken from us just before his 4th. It tears me apart to know that he lives with this but I am so hopeful and so encouraged by posts like your own that as an older child you were able to recognize what is at work here and know that it was wrong! God bless you and all those who have struggled with the same things. I will continue to pray for my dear little boy and that all the forces that threaten him be blocked and that he comes out of this whole and that truth surrounds him.

  8. KT

    I wish I had never met my N ex-boyfriend. Today, 6 years later, I am a different person. Someone that I dont know 😒. I ended the relationship, but I still love him. Most days are hard, Im not sure what to expect in the future. The wounds were deeper than I thought. Pastor Dave, as always, this is a great post. Thank you.

  9. Betsy

    Dave I wonder if you have done or could do a post on how to best protect children from their N dad. I am already resolved that they will not go unscathed. I can see the hurt and pain even at such young ages. I feel like I am spending all my emotional energy protecting my children and making sure they know they are loved and deserve to be treated with dignity. But I would love some insight, tips, etc on what they need most from me to minimize the pain and stop the cycle from repeating in them, if that’s even possible. And then there’s the aspect of feeling like you need to explain their dad’s mean behavior. At what age? Ever?

  10. Pamela Kay Shalom

    Thank you for this excellent post, Pastor Dave. These are Excellent insights in every way. I have wondered if I was the only one who would catch myself acting like the narcissist to the narcissist at times. I’ve thought and prayed, “Oh, God, keep my heart from corruption.” I could see why the Bible says not to be friends with an angry man, least you learn his ways. Blessings to all you great “Overcomers” through His Blood…

  11. aboveallguardyourheart

    this is excellent post and comments, I’ve been struggling with anger and forgiveness issue recently . This really helps.

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