It’s Narcissist Friday!
Okay, so it wasn’t a mistake. It was a choice. Yes, a bad choice, but you made it willingly. You knew it was wrong and you did it anyway. You wouldn’t do it again, but you did it. As a Christian, you call it a sin. It wasn’t an accident or an error. It was a sin.
And the narcissist knows about it.
At best, he/she will keep it until a comparison or some manipulation is needed. At worst, you are open to blackmail. Either way, you know it will be used against you. At some point, when you are vulnerable, it will come out. The narcissist will laugh and remind you of your sin. She will call you “Goody Two-shoes” and then bring it up. Or he will threaten to tell someone who doesn’t know, who doesn’t need to know, just to get you to do something. You know it’s coming.
Actually, it has probably already happened. Narcissists scour the lives of others looking for “indiscretions,” then store the knowledge away as weapons or tools. They remember everything and aren’t afraid of making things sound even worse than they were. If you told your secrets when the narcissist pretended to be a safe person, if you connected your narcissist to someone who knew, or if you just couldn’t keep it hidden—now the narcissist thinks he/she has power over you.
Is it true? Does the narcissist have power over you? What if he tells? What if she lets it out? As long as those questions cause terror in your heart, the narcissist has power. The power disappears when you no longer fear the exposure.
Remember that no one fears exposure like the narcissist. The reason she collects dirt on others is to keep attention away from herself. The narcissist has secrets and weaknesses he never wants to be revealed. They see power in the knowledge of your sins because they fear the power others could have over them. While it can be risky, many narcissists are held in check by counter-threats. In other words, they don’t dare tell your story because you will tell theirs. That may sound disgusting, but some situations call for such a strategy.
It would be even better to take the power away from the exposure altogether. If the fear could be removed from your heart, there would be no power over you. So, let’s look at how to do that.
First, go to the Lord. Yes, He hates your sin. He hates it so much that He has paid the extreme price to remove it from you forever. He hates the pain it causes you and the separation you feel from Him because of it. But He always has loved you. That did not change when you sinned. He has always been ready to forgive you.
If you have come to Him, He has washed your sin away. That means no more guilt on your account—so no more shame. Yes, you did it. You did many other things also. That’s why you needed a Savior. And that Savior has fully forgiven you. You are free from that sin’s power over you.
Second, if there is unfinished business involved with your sin, you may have to finish it. Pay back the money, confess the crime, admit to the deed. If the narcissist is already using it against you, threatening exposure, you may have to deal with it yourself to take that power away. Pray about this and be careful. You may need to talk with someone for advice. Remember to keep the circle of your confession as small as possible. Not everyone needs to know.
Don’t be afraid to apologize. I am increasingly convinced that the person who can sincerely apologize is both rare and strong. The other person does not have to forgive you. That’s up to them. But you will want to communicate regret for the pain you caused. You may not be able to do more than that. Once you do, however, the narcissist can’t threaten you with exposure.
If these two steps are done—dealing with God and dealing with those you hurt—then move on with your life. No more shame. No more guilt. No more looking back. If the narcissist wants to make you look back or tries to bring shame on you, you are free to reject it. Every time the narcissist brings it up, you can shrug it off. You are not defined by what you did in the past. The fact that you sinned and needed a Savior is not shameful. That’s true of all of us.
But it’s embarrassing. It might be embarrassing for him to bring out pictures or for her to tell your story. We all understand that. There are things in all our lives that we would find embarrassing. Many of those things are not sins at all. Embarrassment comes when we believe our actions or decisions make us somehow lower than we want to be. No one wants to be embarrassed.
Listen: humility is a good thing. We don’t have to be better than others. God already loves us, fully knowing everything about us. We are cleansed, accepted, welcomed, and valued by Him. That’s the best anyone can achieve. The height of human accomplishment and honor is bowing at the feet of the Lord who loves you.
So, when the narcissist teases you about your sin, don’t respond with either anger or pain. The fact that he/she brings it up exposes far more about him/her than it does you. It only comes up because the narcissist feels threatened. You are the strong one.
And when the narcissist brings up your secret in front of others, you have the right to feel betrayed and devalued. That was the purpose of the narcissist. But you are also welcome to tell the others that this was something shared in confidence and it has been fully dealt with by God and the people you hurt. The blame for any embarrassment you feel is the fault of the narcissist. Your friends will see that and understand. Others will simply see a strong person trying to move on.
This is a hard post because it touches places that are already sore. I understand that some of this is easier said than done. But, please, know that sin is not forever and has no power over you that you don’t allow. Jesus has made it easy for us to deal with our sin as far as He is concerned. You may be surprised at how He prepares the way with others as well. The narcissist has no right to use your pain against you. Take the power out of sin and away from the narcissist.
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