August 22, 2014

He and I Share The Same Reflection II: Imago Diabolus

To preserve the continuity of the four posts concerning my narcissism I have opted to post them in quick succession so that they maintain their cohesion. I must say that I take no pleasure in airing my dirt laundry but if I have learned anything about leadership and ministry... transparency is critical to maintaining people's trust. 

People will usually forgive a wrong admitted to and apologized for but tend to hold grudges when they've "been had" or made a fool out of by a dishonest conniving person. One glance at politicians serves as a perfect illustration of this.

So I left off in the last post saying that to defeat an enemy one must understand their enemy. In truth, we need to study the enemy and find its flaws and weaknesses. To understand the enemy of narcissism I have needed to recognize what I am and accept the uncomfortable facts. Right up front there are a lot to account for. There are 12 pivotal or outstanding characteristics of narcissism and I can be described by at least 9 of them. The fact that I can be described by even one is disheartening but to embody three-quarters of them is crushing and painful to any man. That is the way sin is. Deceitful and self-deceiving. The characteristics of narcissism that capture my psyche in a comprehensive snapshot are as follows.

(1) I act out in verbal aggression when wronged (even if wrong is only perceived). 
(2) When confronted/opposed, I shift blame or shame, I go on the offensive and accuse. 
(3) I can often be insensitive to the needs of others. 
(4) The world revolves around me when things don’t go well. 
(5) I attempt to be controlling and manipulating. 
(6) I show anger when people disagree with me, or make me look bad in front of others. 
(7) I sometimes expect special treatment or feel special (This especially applies to Christians that feel "chosen or appointed by God" instead of "called for service by God"). 
(8) People near me often feel like they are walking on eggshells. 
(9) I will sometimes show one side of my personality in public, another side in private (hypocritical, not schizophrenic).

Ask my wife, family or neighbors, they will admit I have embodied some of these in their presence over the last 10 years. What mortifies me the most though is that they have all been done in the presence of Holy God. I may not manifest them all at once but over time and place they have all seemed to rear their ugly heads at some of the most inappropriate times. 

Here is the sad and sinful fact: As a narcissist I am in extremely poor company because the greatest narcissist of all is Satan. There are some really specific indicators and evidences of Satan’s narcissism in the next passage. Emphasis in bold are mine.

Ezekiel 28:14-17 ~ “You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you.

Isaiah 14:13-14 ~ “For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation. On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.

Satan lived in near perfect conditions yet he thought way too highly of himself and exalted himself. He wanted more than was allotted to him and he paid the price for this narcissism and self-absorption. It is clear in this Isaiah passage that Satan had megalomania or delusions of grandeur that he would never be able to achieve. God will have no equal, nor will he give His throne to another lesser being. Satan isn't even dreaming of being great he is claiming he will be God’s equal…he is so deluded by his self-absorption he believes his own press. He is maniacal. 

God is the ultimate or highest. There is none higher. Here we see the twisting nature of sin in Satan and how it makes one think irrationally and illogically. If God is the highest, Satan logically couldn’t get higher. Satan’s narcissism had ran out of control at this point. He couldn't even think properly. It will do the same with us. It did the same with me. With nothing to stand in the way of faulty sinful thinking…the pits of Hell are the limit of a reprobate mind and it becomes its own downward cyclical punishment. Grasping ever-onward for more glory that belongs to God, not ourselves. Instead we grab only a shattered image or ourselves.

The comparison and similarities to Satan is what makes narcissism so truly frightening. In a sad, sick and twisted way I have centered on an image of myself that doesn’t really exist (an exalted version of myself) and in so doing I am really looking into a reflection of the Devil. As a narcissist I am behaving exactly like Satan just previous to his fall from grace and now. This should be screaming truths at me and none are showing me to be Biblical. In narcissistic behavior I am a mirror image of Satan when he attempted to usurp God’s throne and position of righteousness. What’s worse is he and I both do it for unrighteous reasons. 

In reality I am not Imago Dei or in the image of God which is what I was created to be but rather I am Imago Diabolus. I am in the image or a reflection of the Devil. Like Lucifer I became completely self-absorbed and self-focused which are the main characteristics of narcissism. So which image do I want to have? Which image does God want me to have? In the end we all have a choice to make. This is not something we can blame on Satan. We will be held accountable for our own actions come Judgment Day. Satan is just an instigator and agitator pushing us towards our own sinful proclivities. In reality, we don't need his help, we can find our sin all by ourselves without his infernal nonsense.

It is no wonder there are often no Fruits of the Spirit being exhibited in my life. There was no room for them. My egotism was taking up all the space. It is also no wonder there is no joy. In truth I hated myself because deep down inside the Spirit convicted me that something was wrong but I couldn’t identify what it was. A constant nagging that beleaguered me. It is no wonder I was filled with melancholy and depression and to some extent, I still am. 

I am possessed with a self-loathing because my spirit knows I am not who I am supposed to be nor acting as I was created to act by God. It is no wonder I find it so difficult at times to love God or love others. The truth is I can’t even love myself because I am too much in love with the image of my ideal self that I can’t even meet the standards of. In the end of this nauseating downward tail-chase is a terminus in self-loathing and self-hate, not the self-love so common to those of my ilk.

I have found that narcissism’s roots are embedded in deception and sin. It is a sin so sinister that unless another person points it out to us it deceives us into thinking everything is fine, that everything is normal. Deception created blind spots in my perception so that I couldn’t actually see the truth. These deceptions didn’t necessarily come from Satan directly either, they came from my own mind. Don’t get me wrong though, Satan and his minions can certainly add to my family’s woes once I got snagged in the trap of my own devices. 

Additionally, when my deficiency was pointed out (even in a loving manner) my narcissistic nature denied it and deflected the accusation back on the one that has the audacity to mention it and point it out (usually my wife). Sometimes I even viciously verbally attacked back by pointing out the flaws in my wife or the person criticizing the narcissism. I know, I did so on multiple occasions. Behind the mask of supreme confidence resided a fragile childlike self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

I will continue with this line of though in my next post and elaborate on what it will take to kill this demonic oppression that torments not only me but also all those around me that have held on and still love me.

[Continued In Part III]

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