Religious Narcia 3–Spiritual Mind Games

18 Nov

In Religious Narcia, if you fail to meet the narcissist’s needs, he will manipulate you—even use the name of Jesus to get you to do what he wants. His need for feed propels the narcissist to control and manipulate you. Spiritual Manipulation comes in many forms and is often built on a false picture of a controlling God. The narcissist likes to think of God using power over much like he does, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Religious-Narcia-WM

Where you didn’t choose to walk through a wardrobe, but found yourself thrown into the darkness by a narcissistic Christian.

Some of the tools in the religious narcissist’s toolbox are criticism, shaming, legalism, judgment, fear, violence and shunning.

Criticism
Criticism is one of the first manipulations most of us experienced as children if we grew up with a narc parent. It’s subtle and often framed with the comment “Why are you so sensitive?” The habit of jumping through hoops to please others started early for many of us and it is hard to break. Especially if it is couched with shame.

Shaming
Christianity is a perfect environment to shame people because hurting people with low self-worth come to church looking for hope. Such people are especially vulnerable to manipulation. Guilt is the natural result of doing something wrong, but shame is an attack on our value as a human being. Don’t let the narcissist shame you–he should be ashamed that he would use the name of God to manipulate others, but most narcissists have numbed their conscience and can’t imagine feeling shame for the things they have done.

Legalism
When people believe they have merit with God based on external behavior, they often imagine they are better than others and this sets them up to judge others. Many religious narcissists read the Bible like code book and try to decipher what they can and cannot get away with. When we choose to read the Bible as a case book, we see how God met many different people in different ways throughout the Bible and extended His grace to them in both testaments. We can’t let others be our conscience.

Judgment 
Religious narcissists often think of themselves as the so-called “watchman on the wall” and they try to enforce their desired behavior in others.

Religious narcissists like to judge the music, food, traditions and beliefs of others. If you pay close attention, you might notice they are incapable of having a relationship with you because they can’t see your heart, they are focused on your outward behavior and so busy judging they have no capacity for love. God’s ways are not human ways. God looks at our hearts–not our external behavior. Don’t let the religious narc hurt you, find people you have beliefs in common with and go hang out with them.

Fear
One of the most common pastimes in Religious Narcia is fear-mongering. Fear has been used to scare people in many ways from coming to church and baptism, to giving up all your money for fear of the future. Be especially aware of independent ministries who try to scare you into giving them money. Fear can be used to manipulate people into coming to changing the way they eat, dress, and worship. Make sure your changes are for God and not people.

Many religious narcissists get high off of warning other people about the disasters to come. There is some sort of power they feel when they can see the terror on other people’s faces and they can project their own fear onto others. A healthy relationship with God is not based on fear of dying or burning in hell—it is based on the kindness and love of Jesus.

Violence
Many martyrs have died through the centuries because someone decided to enforce their religious practices on others. In Religious Narcia, gossip is the same as committing social murder. Narcissists like to talk about the people they can’t control.

Shunning
As a last resort when they feel they cannot milk you for anything else, the religious narcissist will shun you. 

Each of these methods are mind games the religious narcissist will play to bully people into providing narcissistic feed. If you can recognize this abuse for what it is, the narc will have no power over you and you can refuse to participate. Of course the narcissist might not be satisfied with you just walking away–chances are he has a motto that says, “I don’t get mad, I get even.”

This leads us to Religious Narcia 4- Righteous Indignation

Religious Narcia 2–The Need for Feed

18 Nov

Christians are vulnerable to narcs because we’ve been taught since we were children that giving is the right thing to do. The challenge is to determine whether people who ask us for help are asking for a worthy project, or using us for narcissistic feed. Not everyone who asks in the name of Jesus is a friend of His. Beware of the wolf/narcissist in sheep’s clothing.

Narcissistic feed is the term used for the currency an empathetic person gives to satisfy a narcissist. The details depends on the narc. Some might ask for money, while another narc might ask for your vote on the board. One might want you to exclude people they don’t like. while another gets high off of being right. The demands of a narcissist are myriad, but while the currency might be different, the common denominator is the narcissist’s need to use others to get their goals met.

Religious-Narcia-WM

Where you didn’t choose to walk through a wardrobe, but found yourself thrown into the darkness by a narcissistic Christian.

In order to remain on good terms with a religious narcissist you must constantly bring an offering, but such offerings are not for God. To get you to meet his needs, the narc might even claim Jesus needs you to do this. If you can’t satisfy their demands, they might question your relationship with God–after all, if you are truly listening to God, they say you should see their needs.

The bottom line about feeding a narcissist is that it can only continue as long as you meet their demands. If you can’t walk away from such requests and still remain friends, chances are you are dealing with a narcissist. Loving people will understand you are not always available to meet their needs, but a narcissist doesn’t care how their demands affect your life.

The good news is God is not a narcissist, He designed you to live in freedom. He wants you to give from your heart because He loves a cheerful giver.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17

Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart.
They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure.
God loves a cheerful giver.
-2 Corinthians 9:7

 

 The chances are the Religious Narcissist is not ready to let you go so easily and this brings us to Religious Narcia 3 – Spiritual Mind Games

Religious Narcia 1–The Second Coming of the Pharisees

16 Nov

Not all narcissists stare into the mirror all day, some stare into the Bible looking for proof texts to straighten out all their relatives. Fundamentalist Christianity, because it teaches Christians to be unique and holier than the world, appeals to the right talking, elitist mindset of the narcissist.

Christianity doesn’t create the narcissist, but the narcissist finds religion and uses it to manipulate others. When the Christian mission to repair the world is infused with a narcissist’s sense of grandiosity it creates a religion of abuse and hate.

“Grandiosity refers to an unrealistic sense of superiority—a sustained view of oneself as better than others that causes the narcissist to view others with disdain or as inferior—as well as to a sense of uniqueness: the belief that few others have anything in common with oneself and that one can only be understood…”-Wikipedia

The people Jesus had the most trouble with while He was on earth are the religious narcissists. The Pharisee were so full of pride they didn’t realize their need of God. The Religious narcissist’s grandiosity is manifested by entitlement, self-righteousness and lack of empathy in how they treat others.

Religious-Narcia-WM

Where you didn’t choose to walk through a wardrobe, but found yourself thrown into the darkness by a narcissistic Christian.

Abusers in Religious Narcia believe they know more than everyone else including their pastor. They can’t handle authority figures of any sort because no one is the boss of them and they have a Bible verse to prove it. Many narcissists live as though they are above the law, but they are judgmental of others.

The religious narcissist often imagines God gives them special knowledge which authorizes them to correct other people. Like a false prophet, they claim to be the watchman on the wall, calling out the sins of everyone else, but you will never hear them tell you of their own spiritual failings.

Such devout looking Christians  can hand you a long list of proof texts, but to become vulnerable and share their spiritual struggles or listen to others from the heart is nearly impossible for a narc to do because it would require trading their pride for humility.

Grandiosity is a form of self-exaltation.  There are many ways religious narcs elevate self above others:

  • Criticism and judgment
  • Shaming and inducing guilt
  • Dire warnings and fear messages
  • Manipulation and control

There is in marked contrast to the steps of Jesus in Philippians 2. For deeper understanding review the Steps of Jesus vs. the Steps of Satan. Notice what Jesus does with His power:

“Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority
over everything and that he had come from God
and would return to God.
So he got up from the table,
took off his robe,
wrapped a towel around his waist,
and poured water into a basin.
Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet,
drying them with the towel he had around him.”
-John 13:3-57

Religious narcissists use their power to elevate self, while true followers of Jesus use their power to serve others. Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love for each other.” The bottom line about religious narcissists is they care more about being right than loving others.

God loves the religious narcissist, but even Jesus lets people go. Someday, when God has done all He can to wake them up, it will be their own choices that separate them from God. We can’t read hearts like Jesus, sometimes all we can do is pray for the religious narcs and let them go.

Religious Narcia–Enter at Your Own Risk

14 Nov Religious-Narcia-WM

Religious narcissism is similar to regular narcissism, but dressed up in snarky, spiritual clothes. Many people have left God, believing it was the church that was hateful–not realizing they were victims of religious narcissism.

A Religious narcissist is a person who was probably a narcissist to begin with, discovered religion and now uses it as a tool to manipulate other people. It’s important to note religion did not create the narcissist, but the narcissist has discovered religion and uses it to control their relationships.

Not everyone who is a little controlling or has needs is a narcissist, but the chances are if you go through the steps of narcissism and find most of these markers in a relationship it is probably better to move on with your own life.

It’s helpful to understand the narcissist’s mindset. Studies have shown that most narcissists rate extremely low on the empathy scale. They view life through the lens of their own feelings and needs and see all other people as existing to serve them.

The McGregors have written a book The Empathy Trap about the narcissistic triad where the narcissist targets empathetic people to use them, while apathetic people enables the situation.  An apathetic person can sometimes end up targeted and used as a flying monkey because they don’t recognize the signs of narcissism. The apathetic person has ideal dreams of everyone getting along. Of course anyone who has ever dealt with a narc realizes such a dream is impossible.

  • Narcissists lack empathy
  • Narcissists use everyone—including the apathetic
  • Narcissists manipulate
  • Narcissists don’t get mad, they get even
  • Narcissists discard you when you no longer meet their needs

In just about everything they do, Narcissists break the golden rule:

“Do unto others as you would like them to do to you.”
-Jesus
 

Religious-Narcia-WM

Where you didn’t choose to walk through a wardrobe, but found yourself thrown into the darkness by a narcissistic Christian.

Many ACONs* reject their parent’s religion and there is a good reason for this. When you are the child of a parent who is insensitive to your needs and lacks empathy, how can you know God cares for your heart?

People raised by a narcissistic parent struggle with going to church or praying because they see God as a reflection of the people who told them about God. If their parents abused them in any way, they often imagine God is exactly like their parents.

I have a friend who has suffered all forms of abuse at the hands of her father and she often says to me through tears, “What kind of fucked up god is this?” I tell her the God I know looks, acts and treats people just like Jesus.

If only narcissistic Christian parents would own their mistakes and ask for forgiveness then many relationships could be restored. Most ACONs realize this will not happen because narcissists cannot stoop to such humility. Narcissistic Christians lack empathy for other people including their own children.

I watched an episode of The People’s Court where a woman took her mother to court for not paying her back after several years. The heart of the matter is this was not as much about money as it was about a lack of parental love. This narcissistic mother cannot forgive her daughter for not having her children baptized. As a result she refuses to have a relationship with her beautiful daughter and granddaughters. My heart breaks as the daughter waits to hear if her mother wants to have a relationship with her. Such rejection shows a lack of God’s love.

Here is what God says to all ACONs:

I have loved you with an everlasting love–
therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you
and I will continue My faithfulness to you.
-Jeremiah  31:3


Just as C.S. Lewis’s Narnia is frozen over from the spell of the white witch, the religious narcia landscape is iced over with self. The only hope for those escaping such a situation is for Aslan/Jesus to move hearts.

*ACON — Adult Children of Narcissists

As we embarked on this journey, feel free to add your stories and comments.

Religious Narcia 1 – The Second Coming of the Pharisees

Stand Tall in Your Truth

30 Oct

It’s been a busy fall and while I have been focusing on my book, I have not been blogging or painting as much. As we approach the holidays, my heart goes out to all the ACONs who are struggling with family drama. I think the most difficult thing to do is stand up for yourself when people disrespect you, but the truth is the only way to gain self respect and the respect of others is to stand in your truth.

Giraffe-in-Pink-Clean-WM

It won’t be easy to do, but having good boundaries will help you realize when someone is pushing your buttons and you have the right to say thus far and no more. That might look like leaving the building, or not calling or refusing to attend family gatherings. Chances are the people who do not respect you at holiday dinners will also not respect your choice to spend this time with people who do respect you.

When your family doesn’t respect you, the best thing you can do stand up for yourself. Respect is the foundation for every relationship and even if others treat you with disrespect, you can still respect yourself. Sometimes it takes this for others to realize that you deserve respect, but you have the right to treat yourself kindly even when they don’t.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

When you realize how much you are worth,
you’ll stop giving people discounts.
-Unknown

I made this art especially for a reader named “One Escaping Goat” and hope it is a blessing to her and all of you who deserve to stand in your truth. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to say I am worthy of relationship and if you do not respect me, I will go where I am celebrated.

I hope each of you have a wonderful holiday season standing in your truth.

Why I Support Women’s Ordination

14 Oct

The church I am a member of and grew up in is discussing women’s ordination today and hopefully they will vote on it next year at the General Conference. Even if this doesn’t happen, I am not planning on leaving the church, but I do feel it’s important to discuss this and let our voices be known to stand up for not only women pastors, but for women everywhere because the way the church treats women sets a precedence for the rest of the world. I believe this is a human rights issue.

This blog has always been about freedom from dysfunctional families and religious abuse. I believe the way women are treated in church influences the way women are treated everywhere else, but don’t take my word for it, listen to Jimmy Carter and the Elders from all over the world:

“The justification of discrimination against women and girls
on grounds of religion or tradition,

as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority,
is unacceptable.”
-Jimmy Carter and the Elders

 

Annointed-WO

Little Red 23rd–He Anoints My Head With Oil

I believe God created man and woman in his image. Some argue Adam was created first so that means that he should lord over Eve, but the animals were created before Adam, does that mean they should be in charge of Adam?

I believe male headship is a result of the fall. Because of sin, someone had to take charge or they would both fight to lead, but when Jesus came and lived among us, He showed us how a true leader leads by serving others.

Jesus came to set all captives free and restore what was broken in the fall. Despite living in a patriarchal society, Jesus loved and called women.

It was a woman who announced the coming of the Messiah and carried Him in her body for nine months. It was a woman who raised Jesus and taught Him from the Scriptures. The woman at the well was the first missionary. Jesus defended Mary’s right to sit at His feet like a student learning from a rabbi. It was Mary who anointed Jesus before He completed His most difficult task and Mary was the first to announce to the world that Jesus had risen from the dead.

If Jesus allowed women to sit at His feet and proclaim His most important announcements, who are we today to stop women from following His call? If we are truly Christ’s followers will we not treat all women as Jesus does?

Having said all this, I don’t believe women’s ordination should be forced on everyone, but that each conference should be able to decide for themselves what will best meet their local needs to spread the gospel.

I believe women’s ordination is more than church politics. The way the church treats women sets the bar around the world for the value of every woman and girl. Because there are still societies where women are abused and treated as nothing, the church as Christ’s representative on earth should set the standard and proclaim to the world that a woman in the eyes of God is just as important as a man.

When church leaders follow Christ, it brings hope and sets the standard for every woman and girl that someone in this world represents Christ and values her as much as her male counterparts.

Losing My Religion for Equality by Jimmy Carter

Andrews University Statement The Unique Headship of Christ

Here is a great book I just read that answers many questions about Women’s Ordination:

2014-10-06-QA_WomenOrdination

Make Art, Not War

9 Sep

There are two kinds of people in this world–those who make art and critics. Making art is more than just putting paint on a canvas; it’s the way we choose to live our lives.

Artists put flowers from the garden on the table, an extra little gift on a gift and fresh herbs and care into making a meal. Life is art and it’s up to each of us how we will use the tools we’ve been given.

Critics, on the other hand are not as concerned with building life as they are judging what others have created. Critics always find a problem with someone else’s design. They can’t tolerate the freedom of other people to create. They feel they need to correct their theology, adjust the table decorations and tell other people what to wear.

Critics have no time to contribute to the world because they’re too busy complaining about how the art of others should be corrected. Criticism brings pain, discord and ultimately death into this world, while art brings hope, resilience and life.

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Some critics question how can we sit around playing with colors on paper when terrible things are happening in this world. They are concerned about starving children, Ebola virus and terrorists who chop off children’s heads. For a moment I listen to such critics because I too am appalled by the terrible things happening in this world, then I remember how the Nazis plundered art during World War II.

Adolf Hilter was once an artist or at least an artist wanna-be. He applied and was rejected by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, but somewhere Hilter stopped making art and became a critic of the arts. When he became chancellor of Germany in 1933, he began to call art that did not pass his approval “degenerate art.”

Degenerate art included most art that was not from the old German masters. In Hitler’s quest to purify a nation, he started by stealing the freedom of artists to express themselves and eventually stole life from those who did not meet his standards. Perhaps history would have been different if Hitler had focused on making art, instead of trying to sculpt an entire race.

Art represents freedom and individuality. Most critics are not interested in the freedom of others, they simply want to control the outcome of someone else’s art. Whether the art is on canvas, or artful patterns of living, critics feel they need to adjust the freedom of others. We can follow the critical and destructive path of Hilter, or we can offer the beauty of freedom and hope to a world filled with despair.

So what business do we have enjoying life, painting pictures while such horrible atrocities are happening to our fellow humans? The truth is we are not on the position to stop every terrible thing from happening, but we can do something in our own neighborhood. We can express hope through color and individual expression and bring beauty to the lives around us. Making art is a form of resilience to the pain of living in a broken world.

God didn’t create selfishness or sickness. All of this pain is the result of God’s enemy. If this world still operated the way God intended, we would all be making art of some kind. It would be the norm to be designing, decorating, singing and playing. We would craft amazing gardens and compose beautiful symphonies because the pinnacle of our existence is to reflect our Creator. We were designed to add beauty to the universe with our individuality for God’s glory.

Our lives can be summed up by the way we contribute to the world around us–we either do this artfully, or we do it critically. Art is what we do with the tools we’ve been given. Art is what we create out of the chaos of our lives. We might temporarily live in a crippled and dying world, but as long as there is a God and life, we can make art and live artful lives and this is how we honor Him.

Thank you to everyone who participated in my Birthday Week Contest.

Here are the winners of the drawings:

For sharing on Facebook:

Jered Kostenko

For commenting on my blog:

One Escaping Goat

And for leaving a comment on Etsy:

Deborah Stevens

Please comment below or email me at CherilynClough.com with your address and I will put your art in the mail.

To read more about Nazi plunder during WWII:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_plunder

What it Takes to be Brave

5 Sep

This piece of art was inspired by my brave friends. Those who are dealing with relationship problems or a rough diagnosis or struggling to make a living or those who wonder if they will ever find love in this broken world. Whatever our trials, they never seem small when we are going through them. Living and acting on the life we have is an act of courage and defiance to the evil in this world.

Brave-Soul-WM-Etsy

Here’s to the many brave people who get up every morning when they’d rather pull the covers over their head. Here’s to those who walk with pain or carry a painful heart as they go about their work, church and school. These brave souls realize the secret to being brave is not how we feel, but the action we take in response to life’s trials. Whatever happens, brave souls never give up or give in, they keep on looking up for the silver lining.

I especially want to dedicate this to all my friends who have had to deal with cancer this year. I send healing wishes and prayers for all of you! Bravo for fighting a good fight! And sometimes the fight is not about having a longer life, but having a better quality of the life we have today. Today is all any of us really have so let’s make it a good one.

I didn’t use any fancy techniques on this picture, I just painted a brave girl’s face and wrote the truth, but she caught the eye of a therapist friend who just opened a new practice near Seattle, Washington. Congrats to my friend and favorite therapist Lisa Boyl-Davis who will be putting this in her new office!

Talk about therapy–Jason Mraz has a great song that describes what it takes to be brave. Three things to do when your life falls apart. Enjoy!


EXTRA FOR MY ARTIST FRIENDS:

Here is how I package my art. When you sell online, it is all about the buyer’s anticipation. They have to wait to receive it, so it’s nice to make it worth their wait by dazzling them a little. You can do this by wrapping it cheerfully and adding an extra surprise for them.

1. Start with a business card. (These came from Moo. I punched a hole in them and added a string of hemp and a bauble for fun.)

photo (48)

2. Add an extra surprise–I think a greeting card is perfect because it adds very little weight, is valuable for them and shows the great quality in case they might like to purchase some.

photo (47)

3. Write the recipient’s name on the back of the picture and sign it (be sure to ask if it is for them or a gift).

4. Then I lay all of these inside the back of the picture and wrap it in tissue paper.

5. I write a personal thank you on a postcard and attach to the package with curling ribbon.

photo (49)

6. The last step is to wrap it in bubble wrap before slipping it into a US Postal Service Mailer.

photo (45)

Note: By charging $12 for mailing, I can afford the USPS mailer and tissue and insure it for up to fifty dollars.

Feast In Front of My Enemies

4 Sep

When Rose discovered a more loving picture of God, she rejected her parents’ harsh religious views, but her narcissistic mother did everything she could to get Rose to agree as she had been raised. Rose had seen the light and for her there was no going back. After many lengthy arguments, her mother packed up Roses’ belongings and kicked her out of the house.

Shut out and with very little money she had no choice but to rent a studio apartment in a questionable part of town. Rose’s first supper was a can of green beans eaten out of the can with some plastic silverware she bought at a local convenience store. Rose had never dreamed she would be put in this situation and as she ate her green beans, tears rolled down her cheeks. She was lonely and scared and thought of all the things she needed to survive.

A-Table-in-Front-of-My-Enemies-WM

Little Red 23rd–A Feast in Front of My Enemies

Rose had a job, but no iron or ironing board to iron her uniform for work. She had no glasses or dishes or curtains. Her only transportation was a bike and she wondered how she would be able to carry the stuff she needed to outfit an apartment without a car. Exhausted, she said a prayer and went to sleep on the drop down bed in her new home.

The next day her brother showed up at her work. She hadn’t seen him in years because her mother had told him to stay away from the family home. He gave her a ride to the store and helped her buy the things she needed to live on her own.

Once again, the Good Shepherd not only supplied Rose’s needs, but prepared a feast for her in front of her enemies. This feast was not a physical meal; it was spiritual nutrition as her new understanding of the Good Shepherd nourished her soul and soothed her fears.

Rose is not alone. I have experienced such a feast myself and many other people who have been under all kinds of persecution and pain have discovered they can survive on less than green beans when they are fully awake and aware of the Good Shepherd’s protection and provision.

This happened many years ago. When Rose told me her story, she added throughout the decades, the Good Shepherd has never let her down. Even when we feel all alone and the cupboards are bare, we can endure such circumstances because the Good Shepherd has never abandoned us–He always protects, always plans for us and always prepares a feast for us even in front of our enemies.

Be a Giraffe

4 Sep

Many AcoNs* have been awake and aware long before the rest of their family. This causes them to be ostracized and scorned for speaking the truth and trying to help the rest of their family find healing. Often the one who sees the dysfunction first is labeled as the scapegoat, but there is good news for the designated scapegoats.

You might not be a goat at all, you might just be a giraffe. Listen to the video at the bottom where Dr. Karyl McBride explains how giraffes stick out their necks and see the world through possibility and move forward while they can observe the past and the future. This piece of art was inspired by the short video below. Thank you Dr. McBride.

PS If you think you might be the daughter of a narcissistic parent, Dr. McBride’s book Will I Ever be Good Enough–Healing the Daughter of Narcissistic Mothers is a must read.

*ACoNs-Adult Children of Narcissists

UPDATE: This picture sold as soon as it was posted, but if you want a giraffe picture of your own just let me know and I can make you one and give you the sale price of thirty bucks–which is a good price for an original handmade piece of art.

Giraffe-WM-Etsy

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