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Don’t Let the Narcissist Define You

24 Feb

One of the most damaging things that happens to ACoNs is when the narcissistic parent tries to define them. The narc will try to define you to yourself, friends and other family members. This is part of the gaslighting treatment and we must diligently refuse to allow such lies to influence us. Let fools and flying monkeys listen to those lies, but never allow the narc to define you.

I once wrote a poem about how other people in my family told me how to spend my money and what music to listen to and how to dress and what foods to eat. I wrote how it bothered me to be controlled. This was not a saga of teenage rebellion against parental authority––I actually wrote this poem when I was thirty-four years old. It was a vague and shaky beginning to my awakening, but it would take me another ten years to fully wake up.

What was so weird about this poem is that I shared it with one of my sisters who told me it was a very selfish poem. She said it was all about me—

Me wanting to listen to whatever music I liked,

Me choosing to spend my own money,

Me eating whatever I liked,

Me dressing or wearing my hair however I liked,

And me worshipping God the way I felt led.

What’s really lame is I actually believed her. I felt ashamed for being so selfish that I tore up the poem and threw it away. I don’t blame my sister, she was only repeating the narcissistic things told to us growing up. This is the way we were raised–-to give up all of ourselves to please our family members. Well, I don’t buy into that game anymore. It was all part of the game I could never win.

When my sister called me selfish for wanting to live my own life, she was only being a flying monkey and repeating what our parents  had called her on multiple occasions. We were taught what we wanted was selfish, but complimented and told we were “thoughtful” if we did what they wanted.

Part of the problem is whenever I did things the narc didn’t approve of, they tried to define me as selfish or rebellious. Maybe this has happened to you. Have you found yourself feeling ashamed for being human and having human needs like desiring respect, fun and love? Don’t let the narcissist lie to you.

Any intelligent and mature person knows we all have choices and God himself gave us these choices. He doesn’t stop people from making even harmful decisions. Any form of control over another’s life choices by one adult toward another adult reveals a lack of God’s Spirit.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

The heart of the problem in every dysfunctional family is someone trying to define someone else and trying to box them into their expectations. And it doesn’t go away when we grow up.

When we care about social causes, they call us liberals.
When we tell the truth and it exposes their lies, they accuse us of lying.
When we refuse to let them walk all over our boundaries, they peg us as controlling.
When we stop allowing them to use us, they call us stingy and selfish.
When we find a grace-filled picture of God, they call us heretics.

The bottom line is even if we did everything they wanted and sold our souls to please them, they wouldn’t appreciate it and they would still be looking for some way to judge and criticize. That’s because narcissistic people merely want to use people until they drain them dry.

Many of us have been pushed into a corner by a narcissist who wants to control us. When we spoke the truth, they lied and tried to make us look bad so no one will listen our stories or want to hang out with us. They want to scapegoat us so we can feel banished from the camp and left alone to die. If this has happened to you, there is still hope.

Remember it’s the family scapegoat who gets away. Others continue this group fantasy because they want to feel better about themselves and they can only do this by thinking of someone they deem worse than them. Of course this slows down their own journey of healing and makes them unsafe to be around, but we can’t control what they do, they will have to wake up on their own someday.

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We are now in a time that people are calling “post-truth.” This is certainly a sad development when we consider that Jesus said it’s the truth which will set us free. Jesus had no room for alternative facts. He called out the lies and said those who lie are from their father the devil. It is now time for many of us to stand even taller in our truth.

In this post-truth age, we might need to call out truth like Jesus did when he exposed the Pharisees. It’s true there could be danger in this. Remember Jesus was accused of being a law breaker for healing people on the Sabbath. True other-centered love often trumps the laws of the land. Jesus was accused of touching the unclean and eating with sinners and outcasts. Because of this, some called him a false prophet—others even suggested he was filled with the devil.

Jesus said when his disciples danced they were judged for being happy and when they didn’t, they were told they were too sad. Jesus knows what it’s like to play a game you can never win, but he refused to let others define him. He stood for truth and he is the ultimate Truth about God. So no matter what label people, pastors, politicians and activists wear, if they don’t look and act like Jesus, there is no truth in them.

My message to you is don’t let the narc define you. You are not the sum of whatever the selfish narc wants to make you look like. I love this quote that Mother Teresa put on her wall,

“In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”

Not only is this the truth, but we can’t allow other people to make our choices and we cannot allow other people–especially narcissistic people, to define us.

You are not selfish to make your own choices. God gave you those choices.

You are not a grudge holder for asking the narc to make things right if they want to have a relationship.

You are not being petty to ask them to be honest with you and about you.

You are definitely not a liar for telling the truth to refute the narcissist’s lies.

You are not unloving to ask for what you need.

Let the narcissist deal with their own bad choices, you are not responsible for their choices.

And you are not selfish to go no contact when people treat you with disrespect and animosity.

If you are a Christian, allow Jesus to define who you are–but please don’t let the narc define you.

Women Pastors and Corporate Abuse in the Church

28 Oct

I’ve been in mourning these last few weeks. Not over a person–but over a church. Specifically the church I grew up in. The church that has been a spiritual home at least in name to six generations of my family. Yet even though I say six generations of family, my childhood home was far different from my mother’s childhood home. The stability she took for granted was missing from mine. Some of the rules were passed down, but my parents diverged from the path of our Adventist pioneers by accepting the false concept of male headship when I was young.

How do I know this? Well they never used those terms, but my mother never worked outside the home. She never led in a family worship except to teach little children. She rarely disagreed with my father in front me. My father put down my Bible worker grandmother who was constantly giving Bible studies. He argued with her over theology. He yelled at her over doctrinal issues nearly every time we visited her.

And there were the quirky things he did while I was young. He scolded me when I was five for handing him a purple towel to dry my baby brother. I had to go back and find a blue one. He was upset when my mom took me school shopping and we came back with plaid dresses. He called them men’s clothes. He never let me or my sisters wear denim or jeans because they were men’s clothes. My parents didn’t want me to cut my hair because it was given to a woman for a covering. They also despised women who worked outside the home and “wore the pants in the family.”

Perhaps my father learned some of this from his father because his mother never learned how to drive a car. He meant well, he told me he wanted better for his daughters, but I’m not sure he knew what that could look like. My husband taught me to drive when I was twenty-three.

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My father’s background made him vulnerable when the false teaching of male headship began to enter the Adventist church in the seventies. This concept did not come from the Bible or even one of our church founders–it originally came from Bill Gothard who has now been embroiled in lawsuits against him for sexual abuse and harassment from multiple young women who worked for him. His teachings of male superiority have taught women they are less than and must obey a male and in turn they have falsely given men the idea they are more important than women.

As the scholars at Andrews University have refuted with the Bible and prophetic quotes, this false concept of male headship flies against the one and only true head of the church–Jesus Christ. And it has caused a lot of trouble recently because people who support male headship are directly opposed to male-female equality which was God’s design at creation, temporarily lost in Eden and restored by the life of Jesus.

In the current controversy of women’s ordination in the church, proponents of male headship have argued that a woman should not be a pastor and most definitely not an ordained one because that would give her authority to lord over a man, but they have missed two important facts:

  1. Being a pastor (male or female) should never be about lording power over anyone. A faithful pastor’s job is to serve as Jesus did when he washed the disciple’s feet.
  2. The Biblical meaning of ordination simply meant to be called and while the actual word appears in the KJV of the Bible, it’s not in the original language. The early church prayed and laid their hands on both men and women who were called by the Holy Spirit to give their lives in service to God. And it should be the same today.

When we realize these two important points, this controversy over women’s ordination is ridiculous. So why am I in mourning over such an insane controversy?

While I was growing up, I saw the disrespect my father gave my Grandmother who served God. I saw how my father had the last word and it was his way or the highway. I saw how my brother was not expected to do the chores while I was used as a family slave. And behind all this subjugation was the power of the belt. When I was seven my legs were beaten black and blue for whispering in church. I could go on and on, but the truth is the beast-like power-over of another human being–in any form of abuse creates a deep and terrifying fear of God–a literal fear that made me sick and kept me up at night for most of my life.

I was terrified of the judgment and of Jesus coming. Events like Mt. St. Helens and 911 carved this fear even deeper into my psyche. It wasn’t until I discovered Jesus and the Father are one and I began to read up on the life of Jesus that I lost this fear created by a false God concept. And male headship was a part of what I was able to throw away.

When I realized God was not the way my father had portrayed him, I finally felt safe in church because I realized how God uses his power. Not like an angry, belt wielding father, but like a humble servant even submitting to let his created beings kill him.

So in the last few months I’ve been sad to see this ridiculous controversy rage on in the church. For me, one of the final straws against the establishment is this vote taken a couple weeks ago to eventually punish those who ordain women. Can you see how this demonic power-over that I felt I had escaped from my childhood home is now leading the church I love? Can you see how unsafe this makes me feel? Can you see how nothing can cover up such abuse? There is no excuse for a world leader being allowed to act as the beast power in a church where we teach the mindset of Jesus and preach against using our power over another human being! Please don’t preach to me about Babylon and the apostate church when our own church is taking on the form of beast-like power.

People have asked me why I care so much about women’s ordination. I once felt called to be a pastor, I came by this through my Grandmother’s joy in giving Bible studies and my own love of people. But I realized my parents would never support me in this choice so I searched for other types of work. Today I have no regrets. I feel I am able to answer God’s callings in different settings most recently through my art and blog.

But here’s the thing–as a friend of Jesus, I owe it to him to honor his example of letting Mary sit at his feet as a rabbi in training. Remember Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” So why should we allow men who have these two false beliefs of male headship and power over ordination keep women from serving God?

Apparently the General Conference President Ted Wilson disagrees with me. In Australia a few years ago, Wilson refused to lay hands on a woman pastor who was being commissioned. Unlike our world leader, the Adventist church both approves women pastors and uses a ceremony exactly like ordination–except they call it a commissioning. This month Wilson pushed a policy through to potentially punish those unions who have decided to go ahead and ordain women.

Wilson did this recently by asking the church to vote on a policy which seeks to punish outliers and those out of compliance. The first irony was the number of people who voted. There were nearly 300 people, but only nine were women. Talk about unfair representation!

The second irony is this document also aims to punish those who don’t subscribe to all twenty eight of the church’s fundamental beliefs, but get this–fundamental belief number fourteen states all are created equal and through Jesus restored to equality–including male and female. So by the GC’s own standards, this attempt to punish goes directly against fundamental belief fourteen. What a mind warp!

And how abusive is it to threaten punishment for a woman following the voice of God? What kind of false religion is this? It’s not the religion of my ancestors who treated women equally. It’s certainly not the religion my husband and I endorse.

I’ve had several conversations with women in my church. Several are leaving and not coming back. And I am left standing with very little to encourage them. Another conversation was with a woman elder who said, “I don’t care about women’s ordination.” It was sad to discover a woman who acts as an elder has no empathy for other woman who are called by God. As long as we have apathy like this, any woman who obeys that call will stand alone and be treated as less by the men in the church. I wondered if her opinion would change if her own daughter heard such a call.

Some people say “We don’t need to worry about what happens at the GC level–just deal with the local church.” Well that might sound nice, but when a vote has been taken to persecute women for accepting God’s call on their life and it aims to punish the faithful, God serving men who ordain them and support them, something is rotten at the top and the stench is trickling down to let all of us know that following conscience is no longer acceptable, we must now conform to the GC’s version of God. And right now, that God represents power over much like the kingdoms of this world.

Others say “Just focus on Jesus and don’t worry about this other stuff.” Really? You don’t think Jesus cares about women who are following his call and being persecuted? And if we are really following Jesus, then won’t we have an eye single to his glory for all?

So what can we do? For starters we need to stop allowing this corporate bullying. Women need to step up and stand up for other women. If nothing else, we need to maintain the golden rule. And the golden rule tells us to treat others as we wish to be treated. Male headship fails the golden rule. Punishing documents fail the golden rule. And sad to say it, but apathetic people fail the golden rule. Each of these mindsets are contributing to a crisis which is splitting the church.

Equality affirming male pastors need to step up. They can preach against this false doctrine of male headship. They can preach on our fundamental beliefs which state equality. They can preach about the godhead. Multiple sermons could cover the true headship of Jesus, the role of the Holy Spirit in calling people and the equality of the Godhead. They could preach on how Jesus treated women. They could also preach on how the true kingdom of God endorses freedom and does NOT use power over. They could preach on how true unity is not conformity, but can only come about by having a free conscience and being led by the Holy Spirit.

My husband and I listen to multiple podcasts every week. This keeps our marriage alive and we are never bored because it gives us lots of ideas to talk about. It also reminds me that I am part of a global movement to embrace Jesus and his freedom promoting lifestyle. It shows me I am not alone. That I don’t have to settle for sitting in church going over the same ol’ same ol’ where people keep their heads in the sand while this corporate abuse is being set up to destroy lives. I’ve heard sermons by very courageous pastors who are willing to stick their neck out for their female colleagues and their example has been refreshingly Christ-like!

I would embrace any local church who is preaching on the topics above. If you live in Southern Oregon and hear such a sermon please message me the podcast, I’d love to hear it!  For now, I’m hanging on and glad to know George Knight still preaches occasionally at my local church because he, like Jesus, supports women leaders in the church whether these elders have empathy for other women or not. And if George should fail me, then I will cling to Jesus! I don’t need to allow abusive and apathetic people in the denomination to discourage me from following Jesus.

If you can go off script and think for yourself, if you like discussing ideas about God, if you are not so stuck in your beliefs that you can look outside the boxes, then I would be thrilled to call you friend. We need to find like-minded people because we are the church!

If you want to hear a great sermon on the current crisis in the church, check out this sermon from Alex Bryan. The choir is great, but if you are in a hurry the message starts about 35 minutes in.

http://livestream.com/accounts/7962515/events/5049907/videos/137763786

George Knight on the Biblical Meaning of Ordination

Andrew University Unique Headship of Christ Statement

Five Myths of Male Headship

Women Sue Bill Gothard

The Spirit of the Lord is Freedom

14 Oct

This blog is about freedom from narcissism and religious abuse. Today I am going to write about the deep sadness in my heart over the church I grew up in and the growing threat to religious liberty.

Ted Wilson, the world president of the Seventh day Adventist church is on a witch hunt. Of course he claims he’s not, but any intelligent person paying attention knows what he’s doing. He pushed a paper through this last week to give the unions who have been ordaining women a year to stop or they will take legal action. A couple papers circulated from his office last week discussing a possible takeover of these unions because this president obviously does not support women pastors. It’s not just ordination Wilson is against, but actual women pastors.

A few years ago he was visiting Australia when a woman pastor was to be commissioned along with two men who were going to be ordained. When Wilson arrived, there was a change of plans and the woman was commissioned alone, so Wilson could come onto the platform when the women left while the men were ordained. Bluntly speaking, Wilson wouldn’t lay hands on her and pray over her. Can you imagine any of the disciples not doing this for a committed gospel worker? Can you imagine Jesus doing this?

Sandra Roberts has been an elected conference president for three years, but her name has never been listed in the Adventist yearbook, nor has she been welcomed at official meetings. It doesn’t matter that Jesus has called her and she gives her heart to God’s work, she is simply shut out because she is a woman.

So why should I care? I’m not a pastor. I care because what happens to one women affects all of us. As Maya Angelou said,”Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

I care because male headship divides families and it is splitting this church. I care because it took me years to realize God loves me as much as my brothers, because I grew up thinking God preferred men over women to pray or preach or lead worship. I care because little girls growing up right now need to know that God values them as much as the boys. I care because Adventists have always stood on the side of freedom until now.

There is a movie coming out next month about Desmond Doss, a World War II medic who saved lives without carrying a gun. Adventists believe no one should bear arms if it goes against their conscience. They also have a religious liberty department and lawyers to ensure their members are not forced to work on Sabbath.

Until now, freedom of conscience was of utmost importance if you belong to the Seventh-day Adventist church, but now there is group of people who are not approved to use their freedom and they are women pastors. These women believe they are called by God and Mr. Wilson wants them to ignore this call. How oppressive is that?

It’s so ironic it reeks of insanity, but in a church founded by a woman who preached all over the world, there has risen a very self-righteous and vocal movement to proclaim women pastors under the influence of Satan. If that is not a witch hunt, I don’t know what is.

Many Adventist scholars in North America firmly disagree. The seminary at Andrews University has put out a document refuting male headship which came into the church in the 1970s. While founder Ellen White was alive there were women pastors. She herself carried ordination credentials although she was not ordained by men, but claimed to be ordained by God. One would hardly expect her to be welcome by these men if she were preaching today.

So how did we get in this mess? Men who wish to be on a higher plane than women. They not only wish to be seated next to Jesus before the women, but they would prefer the women be seen and not heard. This is obvious by the vote itself where nearly three hundred people voted, but only nine of them were women.

Such exclusions are abusive and go against all we know about Jesus, yet these men claim to be doing God’s work. They aren’t worried about people leaving the church under their abusive watch because they believe in the shaking in which people will be shaken out of the church. They even got these words from a woman, but I doubt she thought the shaking would come down to women pastors because she sent her own tithe to support women pastors.

Jesus has always been calling women. He called a woman to evangelize her entire village. He called Mary to sit at his feet. He called a woman to preach the first resurrection sermon to his disciples. And Jesus is still calling women today.

Mr. Wilson might think he’ll be the president to usher in the second coming, but I fear he has forgotten who is actually coming. Here’s a little parable I wrote for him. If you know him pass it on.

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Once upon a time there was a group of workers who were waiting for the master of the estate to come at any time. He had specifically asked all of them to bring in the harvest before he returned. In order to do this it took every man, woman and child.

They were dealing with less than ideal conditions because they were working in the dark of night and they wanted to harvest as much as they could before the master arrived.

The master knew how difficult the task would be and had warned everyone to make sure they didn’t run out of oil. Some of the workers, concerned about a shortage of oil went into town to get more oil to make sure they had plenty. When they got back, they seemed to work twice as fast.

A few men believed the Master had put them in charge over the others. They looked around and saw how fast the workers with new oil were working and decided to limit the use of the good oil to men. It was said that men work faster and can do more heavy lifting so the oil needed to be redistributed.

Some disagreed. Women in particular disagreed because they were all about doing their master’s business. They did not feel they were accountable to the men who wanted to limit their ability to do their job because they believed they answered to the master himself.

Other men agreed with the women and by standing up against those who wished to control, empowered the women to keep working, but as the night grew darker a great conflict ensued.

Men against women, men against men and even women against women began to argue and take sides. The question came down to who was most important to use that good oil.

The men who imagined themselves in charge, firmly believed only men should have access to this oil–after all God created Adam first and Eve was his helper sent to procure the oil so Adam could do his important work. Others said God created both Adam and Eve in his image so neither worker was more important than the other.

While the workers were arguing over who could use the good oil, a terrible storm came up. It was worse than anyone had seen before. A large portion of the crop was still in the fields and they were all heartbroken to see how much they had lost, yet many blamed each other for the losses.

There was still much work to be done, but now it was much harder to work around the hail which had frozen some of the crop. Many were exhausted from the fight and scrambled to salvage what they could, but they were shocked to be told they must give up their oil or they would be arrested and fined their wages. They were given one hour.

They had no more time to waste on vain arguments to soothe men’s egos. The women and men who supported them saw a faint glimpse of light on the horizon and they knew if they could just keep working through the hour, the dawn would soon break and they would no longer need the oil.

The last few minutes they worked with what appeared to be super human effort and it was amazing what they were able to accomplish. Then it happened. Light. Glorious Light such as none of them had ever seen before. The Master had arrived to honor his faithful workers.

The men in charge ran out in front to try to explain to the Master how these women had impeded the work with their insistence that they were equal to the men, but the Master told them to go to the back of the line because in his kingdom whoever is first shall be last and the women who were last would be welcomed first.

Then to everyone who tried to stop another worker, the Master said the most incriminating words, “Away from me, you evil doers, you’ve twisted my words, you’ve esteemed yourselves above others and kept the best seats for yourselves and by doing this, you’ve lost a great part of my precious harvest. You certainly don’t know me–because I never knew you.”

 

You Won’t be Left Behind–Unless You Choose to Be

5 Aug

If I could go back in time, I’d go back forty years and give my thirteen year old self some advice: You won’t be left behind–unless you want to be.

It was popular to wear red, white and blue in 1976 because it was the bicentennial year and everyone was celebrating the fact that the United States had survived two-hundred years, but some had doubts it would last another ten.

I’m not sure if there is a plague more hostile to a civil land than conspiracy theories, but in 1976 conspiracy theories abounded. The kids at school the year before had been consumed with rumors about Big Foot and UFOs, but now that we had a born again Christian headed for the White House, the ultimate bogey man—the “mark of the beast” threatened life as we knew it. My parents didn’t send me to school that year because they figured it was the end of the world and Jesus would come before I grew up.

Jimmy Carter was running for president and nearly everyone I knew was against him. He was despised for being a Baptist and laughed at for being a peanut farmer. People hated that his sister was a woman preacher and his brother was a drunk. The people at church said Carter would destroy the separation between church and state and bring on a national Sunday law to force all of us to worship just like him.* They even said it was the beginning of the time of trouble.

There were other signs of the end around us, we had just gone through a terrible energy crisis and what could signal the end of the world more than running out of fuel? Another natural alarming sign was the fact that Mount Baker had started letting off steam the year before and everyone was wondering when it would blow. It was particularly scary because I lived on an island in the shadow of Mount Baker and the thought of being stranded on an island in the middle of a pyroclastic flow brought on nightmares of the apocalypse.

But nothing was as scary as a man who came to church in a trench coat who said he’d worked at the pentagon and stood around telling us conspiracy tales in a suspenseful voice akin to M. Knight Shyamalan. He spoke for hours in an excited voice, but every once in a while he lowered it to a whisper to say he had top secret information, but he couldn’t spill the beans on it. However there were a couple things he could tell us. Because of his high clearance at the Pentagon, he had access to files that proved we were about to have a nuclear war and it was time for us all to move to the country and grow a garden and prepare for the time of trouble.

He also told a story about an unknown man who picked up a couple of hitchhikers who turned out to be angels. The angels only rode a little way before asking to get out at the next exit because they were on business for the Lord. As they got out of the car, just before they dissolved into the Bellingham fog, they whispered to the driver, “Jesus is coming very soon.”

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My dad reminded us that it was time to put our lives in order and give up all sinning, “so we can be perfect before Jesus comes.” He had me memorize the writings of a church founder that said “Jesus would not come until his character was perfectly reproduced in his people.” I really felt the pressure, not only did I wonder how I was going to eat dandelion greens and ferns and hide in the rocks of the mountains, but I was mostly afraid of Jesus.

I’d been baptized the year before and I thought I loved Jesus at the time, but since then, I’d sinned by listening to John Denver. People at church said syncopation was the seat of satanic power. Even though I had paid for it by having a belting, I still liked the devil music and I knew in my heart I wouldn’t stop listening to such music forever.

I had also been told I needed to be right with God because I would have to stand before God without an intercessor. At night, I lay wide awake in fear trying to remember if I had an un-confessed sin. I’d heard Jesus was the intercessor so it seemed terrifying to imagine he’d abandon me during the scariest moment of my life.

In my panic, I gave up sugar, chewing my fingernails, reading comics and thinking about cute boys because those were my most obvious sins at the time. Fear and abstinence of all my vices pretty much stole all the joy out of life.

So if I could go back in time and talk to my thirteen year old self this is what I would tell her:

  1. Mount Baker is not the mountain to fear—at least not for another forty years. So you have some breathing space on that one.
  2. Nuclear war might be a possibility, but it’s not the only thing to fear. People can and will survive nuclear disasters, but love will never survive pride and hate. Pick your battles.
  3. God (this includes the Father, Son and Spirit) has said he will never leave you or forsake you (Isaiah 41:10-13). If any religious teaching says he will abandon you, this is a false belief based on a misunderstood teaching. When the Bible says “He that is righteous still, let him be righteous still, and he that is filthy let him be filthy still,” this is not an arbitrary command of God but actually a diagnosis of our human conditions. It is the revealing of what we have chosen. God gives you freedom of choice and you get to choose if you want to be saved or not. It’s always up to you. God will not force you to be saved or lost against your will.
  4. What about that word perfect? Well in the original language it means mature or complete. Jesus wants us to grow up in Him and act mature in love toward other people like our Father in heaven and he gave a list of what that actually looks like (Matthew 5). So it has nothing to do with chewing gum or even noticing a cute boy.
  5. There might come a time of trouble, but with inferred and other modern diagnostic tools, it will be pretty hard to hide in the mountains unless God performs a miracle. But the good news is God watches over his people (Psalm 91:4).
  6. Ignore that scary story because those hitchhiker angels are false angels. Jesus said only the Father knows the hour–not even the angels in heaven (Matthew 24:36).
  7. Big Foot and UFOs will pose a very small threat to your life—so will listening to John Denver. Syncopation is NOT the seat of satanic power—pride and selfishness are. As you get older, you will discover that pride and selfishness destroy love but God’s love and mercy are greater than your sins (1 John 3:20).
  8. Jesus isn’t going to come before you grow up, so ask him to help you plan your life.
  9. Oh, and President Jimmy Carter? He might be one of the best men ever to take the job because he was all for separation of church and state after all. Don’t let faithless conspiracy theorists manipulate your life. No matter how dark it is outside, no matter how dark your soul, God can always see in the dark and he will bring his light into the darkness all you have to do is ask him.

Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit?
To be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!

Then I said to myself,
“Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light,
they’re all the same to you.
-Psalm 139:-12

10. History will eventually repeat itself. We are in another election year full of conspiracy theories and fear messages, people keep writing to tell me they are so worried they can barely sleep. My advice is do yourself a favor and tune out all the fear messages and spend some time with Jesus.

When people start to tell me conspiracy theories or even plausible stories that breed fear, I walk away or take them off my news feed, because God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear.

If you are afraid of being left behind, read the gospels, learn to know what Jesus is really like. Don’t take someone else’s word for it. When you know Jesus, your fear will be gone because it’s his perfect love that takes away our fear. (1 John 4:17)

*PS Jimmy Carter said in an interview in 2012 he has always supported separation between church and state and even stopped having worship at the White House for this very reason.

To Spank or Not to Spank?

29 Apr

One of the biggest reasons I struggle with my parents is because they still feel they have the right to tell me what to do–what kind of music to listen to, how to vote, how to spend my money and how to worship God. For the first twenty years of my life, their will was imposed on me through what they called “The Persuader”—my father’s belt. I received my first spanking when I was one week old and my last on the day I left home at nearly twenty.

No one thought of my parents as mean. They didn’t look like evil parents, but they believed breaking my will was needed for my salvation. No one who knew us realized I was belted because I was isolated from society by not going to school and having visitors to our home was a rare occasion.

I would love to say the spankings I received were because I lied or stole or hit someone, but no, my list of crimes included everything from listening to John Denver and Amy Grant, to wearing tinted chapstick, to rocking back and forth to music. Sometimes I was belted for not moving fast enough when we were moving. And oh yeah, my worst belting occurred when I was seven for whispering to my sister in church.

Don't Shut Up, CherilynClough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/13999494-dont-shut-up?c=540504-survivor-girls

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My mother told me her father spanked her only two or three times and he very gently spoke to her about what he was about to do and why. She told me several times in my childhood that she hated when Daddy punished me out of anger, but that was the situation most of the times I was belted.

Despite all of this, I didn’t grow up bitter or hateful toward my parents—I hated myself. I was bad. I was the loser who didn’t live up to their expectations. I spent the first twenty five years of my adulthood, buying groceries and paying power bills and doing whatever I could to help them. The truth was I loved my parents then and I still love them today, but I don’t agree with their methods and I refuse to let them tell me how to live my life any more. If they want to have a relationship with me, they will have to accept me as I am because I am through trying to play a game I could never win.

One day when I was forty-five, I was still telling a lie they taught me—that I was home schooled. It wasn’t a conscious lie, it came so naturally to say it, I said without thinking and then I screamed. I told someone I had been home schooled because this is what I had been taught to say. As a teenager, I had to say it or I would be belted. As an adult I had to say to protect their reputation and stay in good rapport with them.

That day I went home and screamed at myself in the mirror. I realized I had been trying to please them for over 45 years and a lot of was because I was taught to submit to their will. Even my issues with God came from these beltings. If the biggest person can bully others to do what they want, then why would I trust God who has all power in the universe?

The last time I saw my parents, I tried to explain how much these beltings have affected my life. My words fell on deaf ears because they believe they are right and I am wrong and they back it up with scripture because according to Christian tradition, the Bible says we should spank children. I know I’m not the only one who has childhood post traumatic shock because of beltings. People write me every week to tell me their stories and most of them include being beaten into submission in the name of God. One reader says she ended up in a fetal position on the floor with family members yelling at her. All of this was done in the name of religion and love.

Recently a landmark study about spanking has shown spankings are not as effective as people once thought. This study covered fifty years and 160,000 people. The term spanking in the article was not referring to beatings, but a swat on the butt.

This study has incited arguments all over social media with lots of people who didn’t even bother to read the study saying, “I was spanked and I turned out just fine.” The truth is if they said this without reading the study, they didn’t turn out fine. They are mere sheep following the crowd because the spankings they had in their formative years, taught them not to question and think for themselves.

One guy said he was spanked and he turned out just fine. I didn’t say anything because I’ve known him for years. I have seen him punish his little children in an anger fit and yell that they deserve a spanking. I also know his temper and anger are part of the reason his wife left him. He thinks he turned out all right, but why is he still trying to control his adult son? It’s a sad thing to see the damage done to this father son relationship because this man feels he still needs to wield power over his children.

There are two groups of people who will argue for spankings–narcissistic parents and religious parents and heaven forbid they meet up in Religious Narcia. The first narcissistic group of parents have to be right. They used physical violence over their children to bully and control them. Narcs feel justified in hitting their kids into submission because the world revolves around them and they feel they shouldn’t be bothered to take time to patiently discipline their children.

The second group are religious people who were spanked and taught to spank and feel it is God’s requirement to spank their child. Despite the fact it’s a misunderstood quote, despite the fact that Jesus never modeled spanking children, many of us have been spanked in God’s name. Even angry and abusive parents have justified beating their children supposedly for their children’s salvation. So what is this misquoted verse?

Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children
is careful to discipline them.
-Proverbs 12:24

This verse definitely supports discipline but there is a marked difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline teaches and corrects, while punishment gets even for a behavior. If all the parents who used spanking to discipline thought about it, they might realize there are much better ways to train and get a point across than hitting their child. But it’s easier to hit them than reason with them. Being a parent is hard work and many feel they don’t have time to reason to they hit their children into submission.

The most important thing to note about this bible verse is to realize what a rod actually is–it’s not a switch it a belt. It’s a shepherd’s rod. To fully understand the meaning if this verse we need to consider how a shepherd guides his sheep. He leads and prods them and rescues them with the rod, but he doesn’t hit them with it. If he started hitting every wayward sheep, he would have chaos. Sheep are followers and not very smart. They need rescuing and guidance, but beatings won’t help with either of those goals.

This rod is NOT used for spanking.

What is used for? To guide, to prod, to rescue and lead. The fact that so many parents defend spanking with this verse and ignore the non-violent words and lifestyle of Jesus, reveals their Christianity is not about Christ, but human tradition. Using power over small children to hurt them because they don’t do what the parent wants is not only cruel, but it’s unchristian–as in unChrist-like.

There is another well quoted verse which mentions the rod from the 23rd Psalm:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Apparently this comforting rod of the great shepherd is not to beat us when we are in fear of death. It’s very obvious this rod is not used for spanking. There is no comfort in a beating or a spanking.

Probably one of the worst arguments for spanking is the one that we can reason with older kids, but the youngest and most fragile in our families should be spanked. This argument takes the stance that babies who can’t talk or reason need spankings to communicate to them. Intelligent parents must surely contemplate what they communicating to their helpless baby by hitting them. They are saying, “I am the boss. Your needs are to be put on hold for my comfort. You are to conform to my request for quiet or whatever the spanking has provoked.

Someone shared a story with me from Astrid Lingren who wrote Pippi Longstocking. It was about a pastor’s wife who felt her little boy needed a switching. She told him to go out and pick a switch for her to use. He was gone a long time, then he came back crying with a rock. He said he couldn’t find any good switches, but she could throw this rock at him.

I cried when I read that story because it doesn’t matter if you hit with a stick or a rock, it hurts and it hurts deep inside the child’s psyche. Please don’t say that hitting is okay as long as you don’t beat them, you never know what is happening to their heart. And it only takes anger to go from a gentle spanking to a horrible beating. It does damage to children to realize their parent who they trust and adore intends to hurt them. That is the part of many of us that is broken. As the child grows up and leaves home, it will come out in all forms of violence against self through addictions.

Jesus is very fond of young children. He says to let them come to him–not so he can hit them, but so he can bless them. Jesus also has very strong words for anyone who harms a little child.

While he was dying on the cross, Jesus spoke of his abusers and said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” but he has much harsher words for those who harm children. Jesus said it would be better for them to have a millstone hung around their neck.

This millstone is not retributive justice as some might mistakenly think–this is Jesus describing the terrible condition and lack of conscience it takes to harm a child. Jesus is basically saying if you stoop this low, there is very little hope for your salvation–not because God wants to kill you, but because the act of harming others changes you and it could make you contemplate suicide and/or lose your salvation.

We can’t take these words of Jesus lightly. They’ve been used against all kinds of evil, but perhaps our Christian tradition of justifying hitting God’s most vulnerable and precious children has seared the consciences of many to imagine they are doing the work of God–when in fact they are doing the work of the enemy and harming their children.

If you are still reading this, you must surely understand by now that the rod is not used for hitting. That God does not ask us to spank children. That Jesus wants us to discipline and teach children to live non-violent lives, but that won’t happen unless it starts at home. We now have a very large, long term study which shows the long term effects of hitting children is not a viable option. It doesn’t work. It only damages them far into their adult lives. We now have no more excuses for ignorance and continued spanking of children.

One thing most ACoNs know for sure is what happens in childhood, never stays in childhood, but according to Jesus, what happens on earth never stays on earth. Jesus says the angels of all little children look into the Father’s face in heaven–which means that all of heaven is watching and fully aware of those who choose to hurt children. If the Father sees a sparrow fall, then how much more does he see a child spanked?

Jesus also said whatever we do to the least of these, we’ve done to him.

Love and Logic has great ideas on non-violent parenting

Here is information about that Spanking Study

How to Talk to a Flying Monkey

22 Apr

Most of us are familiar with the Polish proverb, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” If only we could reverse these monkeys and send the flying monkeys back with a message to the narc. Can you imagine how much healthier our families would be? I know, it’s a fantasy, but we all need a good fantasy every once in a while. This post could go on forever because we all know the list of lies put out by the narc is a bottomless pit, but I’ll just reverse five things flying monkeys use to shame us.

CAUTION: Read this fantasy at your own risk. Don’t allow hope to suck away the reality that the narc or flying monkeys rarely change. Keep your logic hat on.

1. Flying Monkey Stupid Question #1: “Why do you always have to remember the past?

Oh if only I had mocha for every time a flying monkey said this. For starters, who doesn’t remember the past? This flying monkey knows they remember the past and we all know the narc’s memory is selective. The narc hasn’t forgotten the past because he has a long list of people he wants to get even with, so why all this fuss about remembering?

It’s not remembering the past that’s the problem for the narc, it’s remembering the past and acknowledging it. It’s remembering that exact point on the glass where we were cut last time. It’s saying that since I remember the past, I don’t wish to repeat the past. But the narc doesn’t want me to remember where he stabbed me in the back, because if I remember it will never happen again.

My question for the flying monkey is do you really want me to forget the past?  ‘Cause that would make it much more difficult for me to remember things like how to drive and I would definitely forget your birthday. Maybe you should fly back to the narc and give him this message:

“Why don’t you forget the past? Why don’t you stop holding it against your designated scapegoat for not playing along with all your dirty little games?”

More Heart Flying Monkey, cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/14022129-need-less-flying-monkeys?c=543167-flying-monkeys

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2. Flying Monkey Stupid Question #2: “Why do you have to break up the family by skipping the family drama–er dinner?”

Ha! As if not attending one dinner could wreck an entire dynasty and possibly end civilization as we know it. I’d love to tie a little note to the clutches of this flying monkey and send him back with:

“Hey Narc, your lies and triangulating have literally sucked the joy out of our family gatherings. So why don’t you stop the drama and let everyone be themselves? Then maybe family members will want to hang out with you again.”

3. Flying Monkey Stupid Question #3: “The narc’s never gonna change, so why don’t you just forgive and forget?”

Hmmn… Nearly everything that stinks needs changing like garbage and diapers. Personally I can’t think of anything that stinks more than narcissism. It tears down the family through lies and division. The main problem with the narc is it’s always gotta be his way or the highway. I’d decorate this flying monkey with old diapers for brown nosing and maybe give him a flat tire and see how far he goes before deciding change is necessary. Oh! And I’d send this message back to the narc:

“The reason people are avoiding you oh great narc is because you refuse to change. All relationships come up for renegotiation. Like an old fish rotting in the sink, people have lost all taste for your control freaking ways and hostile attempts to divide and conquer. Why don’t you change? Why don’t you play the game of forgive and forget?

4. Flying Monkey Stupid Question #4: What Would Jesus Do?

A few flying monkey spies just fell off their seats when they read this. Sorry monkey friends, but it’s a stupid question if it relates to narcissistic abuse because Jesus never advocated that we become doormats. Most flying monkeys can be brushed off with a fly swatter, but there is no flying monkey like the monkey sent from the throne of Religious Narcia. The aura of oppression they wield while they try to shame you with your ultimate hope–your faith in God–is unconscionable. And all because they like ring of that little mantra “What would Jesus do?”

What Jesus would do is support freedom. Jesus never stands with liars and abusers. He does not support narcissistic abuse and never uses such tactics himself. I’d send this spiritually manipulative flying monkey back as soon as he opens his mouth—with a message to smash all the false kingdoms in Religious Narcia.

Keep-Calm and Ignore the Flying Monkeys, cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleRedSurvivorArt

Prints Available Here

“Hey narc, let’s just forget what Jesus would do and let’s remember what Jesus did. Jesus said, “Who are my mother and my brothers? He who does the will of my father.” If you aren’t doing the will of the Father, then get off my back.”

5. Flying Monkey Stupid Question #5: What if the Narc Dies?

Many flying monkey discussions end with the ultimate countdown–the final countdown in all of our lives when he says: “Well you never know how long the narc will live, so why not try to get along with them.”

What does this flying monkey even mean? Does he think we should allow ourselves to be abuse by the narc because he has a shorter life expectancy than other people? The fact is we don’t know how long any of us will live. Car accidents steal young lives every day.

My message is not intended to make light of how short life is–but rather BECAUSE life is short. If only all these flying monkey suggestions worked, if only it were that easy to reverse all the damage done by the narc to others by hanging out with the narc. Sadly, when we are in a relationship with a narc it’s like they are already dead–not because we wish it–-heaven knows how much we love them and have cried over the narc, but because life is short and hanging out with the narc could make our lives even shorter.

It’s a solemn message to send back, but it’s the truth and it must be said:

“I don’t know how long I will live. None of us do. Since we don’t know this, why do you assume others should tiptoe around you Narc? Why not make things right with your children before they or you die? And If you really want a relationship, why not put some love and kindness into it? Shame and guilt don’t work on me anymore.”

Well, that was nice fantasy while it lasted, but the mountains are calling and I must go! Hopefully this worked like flying monkey repellent, cause modern science still hasn’t found a cure for the narc or his flying monkeys. But you will be ok because you know how to recognize a flying monkey and you won’t let the narc steal your joy.

Please feel free to add your own fantasies in the comment section.

Re-Framing Our Picture of God

25 Mar

Religion has been a turn off for many ACoNs* because abuse thrives in Religious Narcia. In a world full of narcissistic parents, false lovers and self-righteous Christians, God has been grossly misrepresented, but rather than let the narcs destroy our faith, we should re-frame God so we can decide for ourselves.

Most ACoNs* crave a relationship with a parent who loves them unconditionally. We’d like to get along and enjoy life with our parents, but most of us have found out by trial and error it’s just not possible. Deep down inside our souls crave to know we are the children of a loving parent who truly loves us. We have heard God is good and that He cares for us, but our emotions about God vary depending upon our earthly parents and whether they lived what they taught or failed to show us unconditional love.

God is misrepresented because he’s invisible. We can have communication with God today, but for the most part we can’t see God or hear an audible voice when He speaks to us. With the exception of reading the Bible, our communication from God is subtle–through our conscience or nature. As a progressive Christian, I believe God speaks to us in three ways through what Dr. Tim Jennings calls the Integrative Evidence Based Approach to God. This evidence comes in three ways—through scripture, through science and through personal experience. If all three of these align, then we can be confident of the truth we have discovered, if only one or two line up, we have less confidence and should be cautious until we have more evidence.

To learn about God in the first place, we must rely on other people who knew Him—this includes the Bible writers who talked to Jesus or had some miraculous experience with God and people today who have had encounters with God that have changed their lives.

Reframe Butterfly, CherilynClough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/21112144-butterfly-reframe

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Imagine the truth about God is an entire forest of trees. Some people like to pick and choose and many cannot see the whole forest of evidence because they are focused on just a couple of trees. For instance, I grew up in a church that proclaimed to have the truth. The idea was that our doctrines were truth and anyone who didn’t share that same view had no truth. The verse used for this was Isaiah 8:20:

To the law and to the testimony:
if they speak not according to this word,
there is no truth in them.

I was taught this means to have truth people must keep the Bible Sabbath (law) and follow the prophet (testimony). Today I understand Jesus to be the TRUTH and the law of God to be love. While the Ten Commandments reflect that law of love, they are not the original law. Jesus made the law of love clear when he said, “On these two hang all the law and prophets—love to God and love to man” (Matthew 22:40).

There are many prophets—a prophet is simply someone who speaks for God, but Jesus is greater than any prophet. The specific prophet in my church said to look to Jesus and not any person–including herself.

Jesus is the source of truth. Jesus himself said, “I am the TRUTH, the life, the way.”

Religious Narcs don’t like this idea because they like to feel one up and exclusive about their truth and since Jesus is free and accessible to anyone willing to follow him, such people feel viewing Jesus as the truth is too easy. They wish to define their own beliefs as unique–but what or who is more unique than Jesus-the Life giver and Creator of all we see?

When we realize Jesus is TRUTH impersonated, there can be no elite group of people who claim to have special truth. These people miss the forest for the trees. The life of Jesus–his teachings, his love, his sacrifice are the entire forest of truth and while some like to isolate a couple trees, seeking truth through Jesus is not only a lifetime experience, but the WAY and our quest for all eternity. If we become so proud of our truth that we fail to live like Jesus, we don’t know God.

To love another person is to see the face of God.
-Victor Hugo

This is not to say to throw out our doctrines, but they only have value when Jesus is at the center. Throughout the life and teachings of Jesus, we have this amazing opportunity to look TRUTH in the face. Jesus, the way he teaches and loves and touches and cares and heals all people—no matter who they are or what they have done. Jesus is the ultimate truth about God. If some of our doctrines disagree with Jesus, then we are missing some part of His truth. It’s not good enough to settle for a couple trees because someone failed to teach us the truth.

So if we want to know what God thinks of us and what God looks like, we can see Him in the face and character of Jesus. The Father didn’t kill Jesus like some pagan gods supposedly demanded a child sacrifice to appease sin as many falsely believe, but the Father took a risk and gave up his son and entered into the suffering with him.

The TRUTH through Jesus is the only way we humans and the entire universe could see what God is really like–a God who rides a donkey to his own coronation and wears a crown of thorns and gives his life so the rest of us can live forever.

This is the most essential Truth–to see Jesus and the Father and the Spirit as they truly are–a community of beings who are one is hard for us to grasp, but this much we know from Jesus–they are one.

Jesus says:

“If you have seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”

“The Father and I are one.”

“I will no longer pray the Father for you, because the Father Himself loves you!”

So if you go to church this weekend and someone tells you the Father killed Jesus for a sacrifice to appease sin, you might want to re-frame what that means in the context of the life of Jesus. Allow yourself to research what the early church leaders taught before Constantine mixed the Easter bunny in with child sacrifice to make God look cruel and vindictive. It might surprise you to discover the early church didn’t believe in penal substitution and they didn’t believe in everlasting hell.

Jesus didn’t teach penal substitution and there are very few verses in the Bible to support such a view. And if you understand the word hell in the Bible was Gehenna–a garbage dumb that burned day and night, then you might realize that even if you are the worst of sinners, Jesus will never burn you–not forever or at all. You will simple cease to exist if you refuse his healing.

The God who tells us to love our enemies is not a hypocrite like the narcs, he loves every person with an everlasting love. This means even if you refuse his offer to live in harmony with his love for all eternity, you will not be vindictively burned, but will simply cease to exist.

So many of us have been misled and abused by narcissistic Christians, it’s important for us to know God for ourselves. Perhaps you are confused and bothered by this post. If you are learning things, you’ve never heard before this might be your epiphany like it was mine. You might want to try to re-frame by doing some research on these topics. As the end of this post, I will include some resources.

If all you have time for is reading this one blog, allow me reassure you:

God is not a narcissist.
God is other-centered, not self-centered.
God doesn’t shun us when we don’t do stuff for him.
God doesn’t gaslight us.
God doesn’t lie about us to make himself look good.
God doesn’t send out flying monkeys to coerce us.
God never turns his face away from us.
God is the good parent you’ve always dreamed of having.

This is why the life of Jesus brings such good news–because Jesus shows us how God is love. Jesus came to live among us so we could re-frame all of our original opinions and look fresh into the face of God.

God and Your Brain Seminar

God’sCharacter.com

Servant God Audio Book

*ACoNs—Adult Children of Narcissists

Why You Should Listen to Your Heart

18 Sep

If you grew up with narcissistic parents, you might have spent years pleasing them—only to discover you haven’t listened to your own heart. Narcissistic parents want to see their own reflection in their child, so they impose their standards on them. The ACoN* wants their parent’s love so they listen to the narc’s heart instead of listening to their own. The first step away from narcissistic abuse is to listen to your own heart.

If you grew up in a Religious Narcia, you might have been told to NOT listen to your heart. Some Christians say this based on a Bible verse, but they forgot to read the rest of the verses that tell how much God Cares About Your Heart. It’s no secret that the human race has a heart problem and no one knows this better than ACoNs who have spent years trying to get love from a stony heart. Jesus even describes the heart problem of a narcissist:

For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—

so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,

and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.
-Matthew 13:15

All things are possible with God. Jesus longs to heal even a narcissist, but a narc has to want it. The damage of selfishness in the narcissistic soul might keep them from turning to God to be healed, but this doesn’t describe the heart of an ACoN.

Little Red Listen to Your Heart, cherilynclough.com, littleredsurvivor.com

Prints Available Here

ACoNs are more likely to accept healing from God because they have open eyes, ears and hearts. The heartfelt empathy that is often manipulated by the narcissist facilitates healing because it allows ACoNs to connect with God and other people. If we are open to Him, God promises to give us a new heart:

And I will give you a new heart,
and I will put a new spirit in you.
I will take out your stony,
stubborn heart and give you
a tender, responsive heart.
–Ezekiel 26:36

Once God puts His Spirit in you, He wants you to listen to your new heart. This is the heart that shows you how to love other people, tells you when something is wrong and helps you figure out what’s missing in your life.

The Spirit in your new heart might tell you to help someone in need, while other times it might warn you about helping a narcissist. Jesus tells us to love our enemies, but He doesn’t ask us to give narcs all of our money or let them ruin our health. Throughout the Bible, God holds people responsible for their abilities. We would be terrible stewards if we allowed the narcissist to manage our resources and gamble them away.

God fills our new hearts with discernment and wisdom. Listening to your heart can help you create art, write poetry and make music, but if it was up to the narcissist you wouldn’t do anything of these things. You might have noticed the narcissist is often at odds with your heart—this is because the narc has his own selfish agenda.

He might pretend to care because he wants something from you, he might say he loves you when he wants your money, but the narcissist is incapable of having a relationship. He is so consumed with getting what he wants and protecting his reputation that he has no capacity to care about anyone but himself.

Until the narcissist allows God to give him a new heart, his plans for your life cannot be trusted. And most people who have dealt with narcissists will tell you he will never change. Meanwhile you have a new heart and it would be a crime against God to listen to the narc’s heart above your own. God gave you an open and empathetic heart to care, create and share—don’t let the agenda of the narcissist keep you from listening to your heart.

*ACoN–Adult Children of Narcissists

Free to Tell Your Story

28 Aug

For the first decade after Beth left home, she and her siblings didn’t speak about certain events in their childhood. Their family rules included never talking about the past and never talking about what happened unless the person you were talking about was there. Beth and her siblings tried to cope with their CPTSD alone—until one of them tried to commit suicide.

To people who’ve never suffered narcissistic abuse, such rules might sound good and even biblical, but ACoNs know the recovery mantra is true—that we are only as sick as our secrets—and there is nothing sicker than an entire family walking on eggshells around a damaged childhood.

Even when we forgive our parents, the stress of a dysfunctional childhood demands that we pay attention to our pain and the best way to deal with it is to talk about it with people who get it. The most likely people to do that are our siblings because even if they are different ages and genders they are still the only other witnesses to our shared childhood.

When one sibling starts to talk or visit a counselor, narcissistic parents will do several things to stop the communication. They will at first remind everyone of the taboo of talking outside the family. Then they will try to scapegoat and ostracize that child. Then they will send in the flying monkeys armed with Bible verses like Matthew 18. Like one Bible verse will counteract all they have done in the past to abuse. Once again, welcome to religious narcia.

Hummingbird Liberty, CherilynClough.com LittleRedSurvivor.com

Prints Available Here

It’s frustrating to deal with well-meaning Christians (who have little idea what it is like to be raised by a narc) who imagine Matthew 18 is the solution. They claim Jesus commands us to hash out our issues with the narcissist before we can talk to anyone else about it—including a counselor, but they are wrong. For one thing if talking to the narc about it had worked in the first place, we would not be in the position of having to talk to a counselor now.

In such discussions, a portion of Matthew 18 is taken out of context while the rest of the chapter is ignored altogether. When Jesus says to leave your gift at the altar and go and make things right with someone, He was simply speaking against hypocrisy. He wasn’t suggesting we spend hours arguing with our abusers. And He wasn’t telling us to not tell our stories.

When it comes to keeping family secrets, the people who lie and gaslight us have given away their right to privacy when they abused us.  If you have any experience with religious narcs, you know such conversations go nowhere. Christian narcissists are both self-proclaimed victims and Pharisees and if there was anyone Jesus preached against—it was the Pharisees.

So no, Jesus was not talking about victims of childhood abuse in Matthew 18. How do we know? Read the rest of the chapter.

If anyone causes one of these little ones—
those who believe in me—to stumble,
it would be better for them
to have a large millstone hung around their neck
and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
-Jesus

Did you hear that? This is Jesus talking to the little child inside your heart. He is telling you that what happened to you as a child—the beatings, the yelling, the lack of empathy was NOT okay with Him and it’s not okay with His Father either—

See that you do not despise one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven
always see the face of my Father in heaven…
Your Father in heaven is not willing
that any of these little ones should perish.
-Jesus

Jesus welcomes the child inside of each of us. He wants us to remember our childhood innocence and wonder and our pain. He knows we have been so bruised and damaged and we are afraid of many things in life and He wants to heal us. He knows we need other people who can validate our pain and share His love with us. Jesus knows the only antidote to our fear is His perfect love (1 John 4:18) and sometimes this only becomes tangible through other people. This is why healing happens in small groups.

No matter what the narcs say, God sends holy angels to watch over and comfort us. We might feel lonely, but we are never alone. And no matter how abusive the people who raised us, God does not want to lose us because of the sins of our fathers and mothers.

It is God’s desire to draw us into relationship with Him. And that often includes finding safe people to share our stories with. Even the passage quoted most often from Matthew 18, can be applied to narcissism. Jesus knew narcissism would rear its ugly head—

If they still refuse to listen,
tell it to the church;
and if they refuse to listen even to the church,
treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
-Jesus

What a fitting description of how to deal with a narcissist. Narcs refuse to listen because they don’t want to remember what they have done to hurt us. Jesus says there is a point where we just have to walk away and possibly go No Contact.

Today Beth and her siblings talk about their parents—not in some demeaning way, but to remember and heal their wounds. They do not need to bring their parents into the discussion because they already know their parents won’t say sorry. What they need is the validation that comes from shared pain and finding ways to make healthier choices in their own lives.

So the next time you are telling your story and someone pulls out Matthew 18, ask them if they have read the rest of the chapter.

Good Girls Get Angry

15 Jul

While I was growing up, I was taught never to show my anger. My parents didn’t allow children to throw tantrums, so I watched my younger siblings being beaten with a belt over and over until their wills were broken. I believe this happened to me too, because for most of my life, I have been unable to access my anger.

Growing up in an environment where I was told that “good girls don’t get angry” only caused me to absorb all kinds of abuse starting with the physical and emotional abuse doled out by my parents. I have been on a journey of healing. As I write out the stories of my childhood and reframe them, I have finally discovered my anger and my voice.

When I write about my childhood, and most ACoNs* say, “Yeah me too.” All narcissistic families have similar patterns. No matter how much we love some people there is nothing we can do unless they are willing to be honest and treat us with respect. Most ACoNs realize this will never happen because narcissists care more about being right than having a relationship and they don’t change when they get to church. This is why many church leaders wield power over others with an appalling lack of empathy.

I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Last week they held a vote over Women’s ordination to decide if different world divisions could decide for themselves about ordaining women. People from all nations voted, but some nations voted in blocks due to their local politics. The air was charged with politics and hate even to the point of booing a former president. Not only is our current world president firmly against women’s ordination, he used his position to push his own agenda on the rest of the church.

Of course the vote was no. Considering all the nations represented, I see no way it could be yes, because we are talking about nations where female mutilation is practiced and male headship is common. Such cultures ridicule the thought of woman leaders. I just had higher hopes for our American church leaders. Unfortunately, the false doctrine of male headship appears to be swaying a lot of votes despite the fact that our seminary has refuted it. For those of us who believe women are equal to men this has been a travesty.

I personally believe the vote and all the politics around it have misrepresented God’s character to the world. I believe the God who created women, also calls them. We see this in the life of Jesus from allowing to Mary to sit at His feet like a disciple, to His calling of the Samaritan woman at the well who brought her entire town to meet Jesus. When Jesus rose again, He gave the first message about the resurrection–not to John or Peter, but to Mary and ordained her to give to the men who were hiding in an upper room. It’s obvious for those willing to see that God calls women.

Can't Hold Back the Dawn, Virginia Davidson

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Since the vote a week ago, we have been told from the top down to stop talking about women’s ordination. They say the vote is over and now it’s time to get on with our lives, but that leaves a crippled church limping along by respecting only half of the members. I don’t believe it’s over until the church endorses women with equality.

This affects more than women pastors, it affects every woman in the church who has gifts to share but has been accused of usurping a man’s role for sharing Jesus. It trickles down to the little girl who wonders if God loves her as much as her brother. Despite how our leadership acts, it’s important to note God is not a narcissistic Parent–Jesus showed us by kneeling down to wash dirty feet that God cares about every person and if the Father sees a sparrow fall, how much more does He care about how a woman pastor is treated?

This last week, many of us wore black clothes and ampersands to church. The ampersand represents men & women working together–not men over women, nor women over men, but a complete and equal partnership. We wanted to show our mourning and solidarity because through this vote, fringe beliefs have hijacked our church and distorted God’s character to the world. The Seventh day Adventist church has NEVER supported male headship. It came into the church from Bill Gothard and most never dreamed this could happen.

So this week, we are regrouping. We who understand that God created Eve equal to Adam before the fall. We who understand that Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work and restore us back to equality. We take joy when we read Paul saying there is no male or female in Christ, yet we are now subjected to a splitting and often abusive church family who condemn us for following Jesus and our own conscience.

Several TV preachers are so against women pastors that they have been writing books and posting videos proclaiming women’s ordination is a tool of the devil. One after another of my friends–including myself, have been told we are being deceived just like Eve and under satanic influence merely for serving God with the gifts He has given us.

Jimmy Carter and the Elders who have studied this around the world say that male headship contributes to the abuse of women all over the world. Our own church seminary has refuted the practice of male headship and our historian George Knight has given us a rundown on what exactly ordination means in the video below, but few seem to be listening to his logic.

There are people who would rather see men in power than work beside women and this includes our president. Ted Wilson has gone so far as to avoid being on the platform when a woman pastor was commissioned–something already approved by the church. If he truly wants to represent Christ, then why not pray over a woman who has dedicated her entire life to serving God? Jesus laid His hands on children and blessed them, should we give women less?

Suddenly people who haven’t spoken to us for months feel a need to set us straight on our Facebook statuses. They call accuse us of being selfish or led by the devil. It would be funny if it was not real and many are relatives or old friends who feel they have the right to condemn us for not seeing it like they do. It doesn’t help that our church president is calling for us to stop talking about this and embrace unity, but how can there be unity when any part of the body is hurting? Does it not affect the rest of the body too?

The worst part is we have been told it’s over—to stop focusing on how we treat women because we need to be ready for Jesus to come. Once again, it’s God they use so they can abuse. Most ACoNs see these patterns of power over and control and recognize them for what they are, but this general lack of empathy for women is a shame for a church that says it represents Christ to the world.

In all of these attacks on women’s value, I have not lost my faith, but I have found my anger.

I am angry when Christians raise themselves above others by using the steps of Satan instead of the Steps of Jesus.

I am angry when dishonest people write books that are the 21st century equivalent to a 17th century witch hunt.

I am angry when corrupt politics invades God’s church and people are allowed to manipulate the vote and then leaders call it God’s will.

I am angry when we have a church president who shows little empathy for the pain of women and tells us to have unity while he continues to ignore our pain.

I am angry that family members have been suckered into this male headship deception and feel it is their religious duty to condemn women pastors and all who support them.

I am angry when ignorant people try to stop women from serving Jesus.

I am angry that the most important event in history (the second coming of Jesus) is being used to manipulate hurting women into silence.

And I am most angry because this vote of my church–the Seventh day Adventist church has misrepresented God’s character to the world.

So no, Elder Wilson, we will not be silent. You might have control over your cabinet, but you cannot control our hearts and thoughts. If you wish for unity, you must care about the part of the body that is hurting.

And God, in case you haven’t heard, is exactly like Jesus in character and Jesus loves and calls women.

The surge is only beginning to rise. We are many “Ezer Kenegdos”–designed, empowered and called by God.

Good girls and women get angry when we see that God has called women and our leaders will not do unto others as they would like to be treated. Yes, this misrepresentation makes us angry—the way Jesus got angry when He cleansed the temple. Mark my words. Jesus is coming physically in the future, but He has already come into the hearts of many and He is cleansing temples right now. The question our leaders need to ask themselves, is does God really see me more important than women?

Allow me to repeat this, we will NOT be silent. We are half of the army God has called and enabled to serve and even if the GC president withholds his blessing, God will continue to empower women. I have many friends around the world who are standing with us—some pledging to wear ampersands and black until this is set right. Heaven’s angels gather around us as a great crowd of witnesses.

Sure, we are staring into darkness right now, but we can see a gleam of light on the horizon. Our hearts burn within us and no one–not the president of our church, or fanatical TV preachers or the self-righteous members of our families, can stop what God ordains. You can’t hold back the dawn.

*ACoN Adult Children of Narcissists

God Calls Women

Jimmy Carter TED Talk On Women’s Abuse

Andrew University Headship Statement

Healthy Anger Sermon by Seth Pierce

The Biblical Meaning Of Ordination by George Knight