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Showing posts from July, 2018

What it means when a narcissistic pastor says, "I love the church"

I ran across this article while going through a rough place in my life.  It had profound meaning for me in dealing with some of the individuals in my life that have narcissistic traits. The article highlights the fact that when a narcissist says, “I love you,” he really means that he loves the way that you (fill in the blank): take care of his needs, focus your energy on him, submit, etc. Individuals that have been in relationships with narcissists often admit to feeling crazy, not recognizing the abuse while it was occurring, and to keeping secrets to cover for his abuse, infidelity, etc.  I wonder if this is what many people are recognizing in the #exevangelical movement.  Because as I was going through this article again, I began to realize that many of the narcissistic traits could be applied to the many pastors and men in church leadership that I have known through the years. Being in church ministry for twelve years, I became proficient at silence and lies to cover the behavior…

Church, our Borderline mother

Let’s look at Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states: “Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.” They go on to say that individuals with BPD, “may experience mood swings and display uncertainty about how they see themselves and their role in the world. As a result, their interests and values can change quickly…an individual who is seen as a friend one day may be considered an enemy or traitor the next. People with borderline personality disorder also tend to view things in extremes, such as all good or all bad.” BPD is a valid personality disturbance that stems, primarily, from an attachment injury in childhood or adolescen…

Sh*t church women say

I can write this because I used to be one of these church women.  I was in leadership, I was married to a pastor, I was a mentor to younger women, I taught classes for women discipleship. I can write this because it was too risky to speak up about the problems in my marriage.  Because “submission” was a word that my husband and I argued about.  Because when I asked other church-women for clarity about “submission,” they sided with my husband. And so, because it was too risky, I adhered to the patriarchal narrative of submission and silence.  I encouraged other women to do the same. Here’s a list of sh*t that I have heard church women say to me and things that I, in turn, have said to others: Submission means that your husband is the ultimate authority in the home.  He is the one responsible to God for you and the family.  You should defer to him in major decisions.  In real life, I cried and fought and spoke my mind until I realized that it was no use and he was going to do whatever h…

Why should women be silent?

Read this.  It is one of the best writings on women speaking in church that I have ever read.  Rachel Held Evans makes some powerful points about Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 14 that women should be silent in church.  It would do us well to understand the context of these Scriptures when answering questions about women in church. Arguments we don’t hear One of the points she makes is that we rarely hear sermons on other “demands” about men such as: when men are praying, they should lift holy hands or greet one another with a holy kiss.  These Scriptures (from 1 Corinthians 16) are spoken in the same authoritative voice but are not taught and certainly not adhered to. It’s the same old point that the church is proficient at highlighting certain texts and ripping out others. “Silence” did not apply to all women As Evans pointed out, Paul told some women to be silent but others were encouraged to prophesy.  Why?  As the article states, the church had attracted a large population of y…

The child co-narcissist: the narcissistic parent's missing piece

Growing up with a narcissistic parent meant that you had to learn how fit into the missing parts of your parent.  Like a puzzle with a missing piece, you became the shape of those missing pieces to balance your disordered parent–and for the ultimate goal of survival. Alan Rappoport has written about this a lot through his career as a psychotherapist and describes the actions of the child as co-narcissism.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I dislike that term.  So, let me unpack that a bit. Rappoport defines narcissism as a self-esteem disorder–a person with missing pieces.  The individual with narcissism is “interpersonally rigid, easily offended, self-absorbed, blaming, and finds it difficult to empathize with others.”  In this kind of toxic environment, the child tries to balance the narcissistic tendencies with intense people-pleasing, worry, anxiety, and self-sacrifice –the missing piece. So, the “co” of co-narcissism merely describes the balancing tendencies that the child d…

When asking forgiveness is manipulation

My ex’s family had a favorite quote:  “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.” I was thinking about this today after going round and round and round with my ex about something that he did (that pertained to the children) without asking me first.  It was something important.  Like, potentially life-changing.  And all I received from him was a text that said, “hey… I did this… I called these people and set up these appointments… so you know…hope you’re okay with that.” And no, I was not okay with that.  I told him no and he proceeded to push and prod and argue and try to convince and be all manipulatively charming with his, “can you help me understand why…?” And dealing with him is absolutely exhausting.  I easily fall back into old patterns of the abused spouse.  I get exhausted, I say fine whatever, I become passively pissed, I shut down.  My husband has to remind me that I’m allowed to have boundaries and peeeaaaccceee. What’s so ironic is that this church-going family (als…

Why church abusers don't like John 14:6

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.'”  – John 14:6 I’ve heard this verse taken all out of context and used to abuse folks of other religions, populations, and life sojourns.  The church has used this verse to say that only by saying The Sinner’s Prayer can a relationship with Jesus be built and developed.  That there are some magic words that fling us into the realm of God’s glory.  But that’s just not the case. See, when Jesus said these words, he was speaking against the religious abusers of the day.  The Pharisees were telling the common folk that they were the gatekeepers to the Kingdom of God.  They would be the ones to tell you when you had done enough praying, paying, and performing to reach heaven’s gates.  Heaven was the proverbial carrot dangling in front of the nose.  No one could reach it.  Imagine trying to win a ticket to heaven by obeying every letter of the law, no matter how minute.  If you ever

Why I taught my kids to question authority

My generation gets a lot of flak for being “disrespectful” to the older generation.  I have heard them say that it is because we are entitled brats that have been handed everything that we could possibly ever ask for without delayed gratification.  We get exactly what we want when we want it. While that may be true for some in my generation, it is definitely not the case for the majority.  In fact, I remember my early years and the lessons that I was taught about immediate obedience and unwavering respect for authority.  Especially as little girls raised in the church, we were raised to keep silent and to practice compliance.  Never say “no,” never have an opinion, never talk back, never raise your voice, never question your elder. And now we have the #metoo movement.  Any coincidence?  I think not. I can speak from personal experience here. I have heard the older generation say that we are “disrespectful” when: We speak upWe are assertiveWe have self-determinationWe say, “No.”We ques…

Remembering the basement lights

My sweet dad drove 13 hours to be with us this weekend and spent all morning re-wiring our basement to have workable lights and switches.  Since we have moved into this home, we have walked down pitch-black basement stairs to grope around for a light bulb that we would screw in and out to turn the light on or off.  I got home from work today to find a light switch at the top of the stairs.  Flipping it to the on position gave me immediate light in three different places–along the staircase and spaced evenly in the basement to illuminate all of the cobwebs and musty corners.  Amazing. Later in the evening, I received a call from my mother.  We have had a long, tumultuous relationship and things were on the up-swing lately.  But tonight… It was a lot of stuff that was basically pointless and unnecessary.   A group text to me and my sister…out of nowhere.  I didn’t understand where the assault had come from.  It was completely un-provoked.  I got off of the phone and gut-cried.  I screa…

Hope for a turtle suicide

Well, today I saw a turtle getting ready to commit suicide. I was driving home and he was starting to crawl out into the tollway where the trucks and cars were following fast behind me.  I looked into my rear view mirror and could no longer him… I knew not what his fate would be.  I wanted to stop, to pull my car to the side, to save him.  I sit a good four feet off of the ground and from where I am I can see that there is no future beyond the tollway.  There is only concrete and barrier. Behind his slow crawl was a vast field of grass and wildflower.  I’m sure there were endless bugs for him to munch.  And beyond the field was a pond.  Perhaps that was his home at one time.  His family thought he was "just too much."  They criticized him for moving too fast.  His shell had too many geometrical shapes.  He liked to sleep in the mud. He was ending it all right in front of my eyes and there was nothing I could do.  I prayed that he would somehow understand the truth about his…