August 26, 2014

He and I Share The Same Reflection IV: Learning How To Love

Part of the fix for my narcissism starts with dealing with the underlying sin through repentance. I must always turn to God first. This is true of any sin but especially so of entrenched sins like narcissism. Narcissists must take ownership for their actions and motivations and must be willing to sincerely repent. Initially, blame and retaliation will most likely be directed at people close to the narcissist at some point during or following an intervention that must come from them since a narcissist is nearly never conscious of their own sin of narcissism.

Narcissism is firmly seated in selfishness, therefore death to self is the only answer for victory. Narcissism is full of pride. Walking in humility is the counter to it. Narcissism is self-absorbed, therefore I must look for ways to be attentive to the needs of others and sow blessings into their lives in order to sincerely encourage them. I must do this without ulterior motive.

Like the Devil, we are what we think we are or we become what we imagine ourselves to be. This is why it is therefore so critical to align ourselves mentally with the Bible and God. As we renew our minds in the word of God, we too will be renewed.  If we think selfish and unbiblical we'll be selfish and unbiblical. If we think humility and kingdom we'll be humble and servants in the Kingdom. For me the pitched battle is in the mind. Some days I win, but most days I lose embarrassingly for all to see.

I need true accountability. I need to be held to account for things I do by my Christian brethren. I cannot be one thing to one person and another thing to other people. I must be consistent. I need male fellowship accountability. I need Scriptural discipleship, brotherhood and where necessary...I will need a reality check in the form of a rebuke or discipline. The spouse of the narcissist must realize that the narcissist will always demand more of the marriage relationship. Usually more than the marriage relationship can provide. In these instances, the marriage relationship will dissolve into a separation or divorce if the narcissist doesn’t begin to gain mastery over their sin.

The spouse of the narcissist will often attempt to give a little bit more because they often believe that if they just did a little bit more, then perhaps their spouse would be appeased and would reciprocate emphatically. This will never be enough. The narcissist needs to realize their utter sinful depravity and complete dependence on Christ. We truly need to die to self in the truest sense. The narcissist that can do this best may most aptly embody this command from Jesus. It is only in the true death to self that a narcissist can overcome their sin of self-absorption.

While held in this grips of narcissism, the person will desire to be loved and appreciated but will often reject the person or object of that love (Yeah, I know, it's messed-up). In the end, it seems that, as a narcissist I am incapable of loving and this stems back to the abuse suffered at the hands of others in childhood. Contrary to what many believe, narcissists are not in love with themselves but rather they are in love with an idealized unattainable version of themselves. Because they can never attain the status or condition of that idealized version of themselves...a self-loathing ensues. The narcissist is therfore incapable of even self-love let alone loving others. Nor are they capable of believing they can be loved. Most troubling is the fact that this inability "to love" or "be loved by"... includes a relationship with God. In a narcissist's life, it is nearly impossible to obey the two greatest commanments...but not for lack of trying. 

Luckily, salvation and the ability to love doesn't truly come from me, does it?

In the end it takes the love of Christ loving me to cut through all this obscurity and emotional subterfuge. Ultimately, this love in conjunction with loved-ones that are willing to persevere and love even under grueling conditions appear to have pulled me out of a relationally suicidal nosedive. Until I realized that the only reason that I am even able to love is because Christ first loved me...I struggled terribly with loving God. It is not until this sinks in that the narcissist can get an upper-hand. Ultimately, it is the power of the true love of Christ that will set the narcissist free if they are willing to receive it and persevere to that end. It is a long road fraught with emotional and demonic hazards.

The humility and love at the Cross. Herein is where the release from the narcissistic spirit resides. In life it looked like a wife that wasn’t going to put up with my crap anymore. Her love was tough, confrontational and extremely honest. Too honest for this narcissist at times and it resulted in arguments and resistance from me and my sin indwelling me (and still does). It took both God’s grace and my wife’s for me to see the truth and loath my condition.

She established in her heart a strong, non-negotiable decision before God and wasn't going to compromise on it. Love always wants the best for the sake of another. Sometimes the best is not satisfying their every wish, or facilitating and/or covering inappropriate behavior. She learned to be loving, caring, kind, giving and gentle, yet confrontational when needed. She maintains strong boundaries. From time to time, when my responses are emotionally abrasive, she will rightfully blast me and put me in my place like no one else could. She speaks to me and helps me reason through the situation while maintaining her clear position. She struggled to help me see the awful truth of my condition. She never gave up and never gave an inch. She embodied the love of 1 Corinthians 13. She is a strong godly woman and I love her for it among others things.

There are many who are held captive to narcissism. They are imprisoned by the deception of this wicked spirit and destructive, deceptive mindset. It is a demonic stronghold that we in Christ can and must break or it will break everything in our lives if allowed. We must take every thought captive that attempts to exalt itself against Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ~ For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

I never imagined I would be given a condition from God that would virtually force me to turn to him on a moment-to-moment basis to walk the path He wants of me. He wanted a close loving relationship. I could not receive His love nor reciprocate that love in return but He has afflicted me to save me. He has given me the one condition that will have me do both. It will teach me to be utterly dependent in Him and get me to cling tenaciously to Him and His word. In doing this hopefully I will embody His word and His image instead of the Devil's. I will truly learn how to love not only Him but also those I have already said I loved but didn't know how to.

1 John 4:19 ~ "We love because he first loved us.


I chose the picture at the top of this post intentionally for a few reasons. (1) It is a modern take on the old Narcissus paintings. (2) It is hard to tell if the man in the picture is pining away at his reflection or vomiting in sickness. (3) The entire picture including the man has a somber or melancholy feel which is what a real narcissist feels when their well-controlled or well-structured world falls apart. A feeling I know all too well. (4) The fact that it is a lush green gives me the feeling of possible unrealized life. To me it has a vibrancy akin to hope. (5) It is a thin emaciated man in the picture that looks like he has been through the ravages of a tough life and is now possibly on his knees in prayer (6) The picture is mundane and uncluttered which is what I wish my life to be at some point when I overcome this sin. (7) Lastly, it is possible that the man is just peacefully looking into the water watching fish swim and the sky's reflection coming through the trees.

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