Updated: Jan 26
“Moral and social restraints have been rejected, weakened, or targeted as instruments of oppression. Looking good and feeling good has replaced being good and doing good, and most people cannot tell the difference”
The word Narcissism comes from the Roman story of Narcissus and Echo. This story was written in the Roman Poet Ovids book “Metamorphoses - Book III”, written during the first century.
The story goes like this…
“Known for his handsome features, Narcissus was oblivious to others; he scorned or ignored the people around him. When someone angrily lashed out, “May he who loves not others love himself,” something like a curse fell on Narcissus: he became fixated by his own reflection in a pool of water.
Gazing in adoration at his own beauty and magnificence, he was unable to hear Echo’s call, until eventually he fell into the pool and drowned. Narcissus died a lonely, self-absorbed death, consumed in the end by his own self-infatuation.” **
I was once a very trusting man… I felt everyone had a desire to do good and, if given the right opportunity and environment relationships could be built that would be mutually beneficial… I believe this no longer. I believe the evidence both circumstantial and direct supports the belief that the human race is infected with Narcissism… not in its original design… rather in its corrupted DNA through the entry of self worship.
We have all experienced the emotional roller coaster of being in any kind of relationship with a person who acts out consistently in a narcissistic manner. This is a person who will use any means necessary to control those who love them or work with them. They cannot handle the word no… it is an offence. There will be in their past all the people they have cut off, in their present will be broken people who still believe they are appreciated for more than they can give.
A narcissist may not always come across as confident. Often a narcissist will actually lack confidence except where they can excerpt power over someone they want to hurt or punish. They view a relationship with them as a reward doled out to only the worthy… that is… those that still have not told them “no”. A good relationship to a narcissist is one they control.
A narcissist can be religious… or they can be agnostic… a religious narcissist can do significant damage to the innocent. As an example - a pastor who is a narcissist could use gaslighting and manipulation to wedge his view and his vision through no matter who or what gets in the way. I was told once of a Church where a Pastor left a “pray out list” on his desk which everyone knew was about… this as well as a significant sub-culture of self importance and jockeying for position did significant damage to the culture of the Church. The Church can become a dangerous place when the Pastor or leadership have a narcissistic leaning because it creates broken and traumatized people that in turn also become narcissistic. A narcissistic Pastor relies on the understanding that human nature tends to idolize mere men. Someome who has adopted a narcissistic tendency as a pastor or spiritual leader will do great damage to the cause of Christ… we can look at reformation era Church history to see examples.
Narcissists only see the world in how it contributes towards their perceived or real needs. I wonder if all sexual predators are narcissistic... however, It is more difficult to determine whether a husband, a wife, a sibling or a friend is narcissistic… largely because we want to think the best about those we love the most.
I think it would help if Church communities would disciple people on how to recognize narcissistic behaviour… but they do not. The Church tends to teach that the way to reach and win over a narcissist is ONLY through showing love… returning good for evil… in doing so ignores it’s other calling… to protect in innocent and thereby also to set free the captive. A narcissist thrives in an environment where boundaries are weak and trust is deep.
A church - if it is naïve in understanding the dark “anti-Christian” spirit of narcissism will empower a true narcissist and create many more disciples with similar behaviours.
We love and worship Jesus the healer, Jesus the preacher, Jesus the teacher…. But we struggle to connect with the Jesus that drove the corrupt greedy and perhaps Narcissistic money changers from the temple or the Jesus who called the religious narcissists of the day “whitewashed tombs”. Jesus said of these men "“you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” as recorded by Matthew. Jesus was and is passionate about His Church and those who follow Him, he will pursue with judgement those who have added trauma to others one day!
We all have a base line of narcissistic tendency within us… the question is does that rule us or are we in control of it? A person who is ruled by narcissistic tendencies will leave behind them broken, discarded, wounded individuals who must learn to trust again. The narcissist will likely never take responsibility for any of their actions or the pain they caused but will blame others for the failed relationship. They may even call those who they have cut off as toxic or narcissistic… whatever they do it will always be entirely the other person’s fault.
After the narcissist… what is next? How does one learn to trust again? Can one trust again? Is it important to trust again? Many questions emerge. I’d love to hear from those who have found new life after a narcissistic relationship or experience.
I have found that having a degree of mistrust in the human condition is good. Trust is important… but who do we trust? Blindly following a leader or a loved one who does not allow questions will only bring heartache… this should be a warning flag.
How about this one? Someone shared with me a story of a babysitting job they had as a teenager. The Father was a friendly man who on the surface was involved his Church, a devoted husband, a successful businessman and a loving father. The teenager admired these traits and felt she wanted all those things in her future husband. She enjoyed the jokes, the friendly banter… but she did not know she was being groomed. He constantly tried to get her alone and eventually made his moves… even while driving the girl home after an evening bible study. No was not something he understood or respected. The girl tried to tell her family but they did not offer support and ignored her story leaving her with the feeling she “probably asked for it”. She was left to try to figure this out herself in silence. This story is repeated thousands times in every culture. Years later there were a dozen or more affidavits in court proceedings against this man. Narcissists LOVE secrecy. They love the shadows… they are social media darlings on the surface… but inside they are full of dead men’s bones.
How does one recover from a narcissist? Whether it’s a church leader or a friend or relative… Just my own thoughts here... your journey may be different.
• Share our story with someone. Start in private… if we are ignored we should try to find someone who we can trust. That may take several tries.
• Write… or document our hurts and pains. Writing for me has been a catalyst for healing and restoration. Writing honestly - not sugar coated is a great way to understand one’s feelings. I use pictures, videos, poems and songs to add to my own writings… and by the way I think it’s okay to swear in your journal. Get it out so you can heal.
• We need to grow positive relationships… people who we can be honest with and they won’t cut us off. Finding community will help to rebuild balance after a narcissistic relationship ends.
Lastly… how do we know if the person we are thinking of is narcissistic in nature? A simple test is to say no… do they respect our no? Do they stop immediately? Do they just pause and then start again? Do they blame us for the dysfunction in the relationship? Do they call us names or label us? A no is a great way to flush out a narcissist.
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Stay strong and be the change!
** (Excerpt from CS Lewis Institute https://www.cslewisinstitute.org/resources/understanding-and-dealing-with-todays-culture-of-narcissism/)