Not talked about nearly enough, the Christian Narcissist is incredibly devastating on so many levels. Due to the benevolence they hide behind, this type of narcissism can be quite tricky to recognize. And, sadly, goes unnoticed and thus unchecked the majority of the time.
Narcissism is usually a trauma response, a maladaptive coping skill. Those that suffer from narcissism have such deep insecurity and shame that they have learned to survive by overcompensating in an extreme way. A way that is detrimental to the ones they are closest to, their intimate partner, or family members. They must feel needed and wanted, often at YOUR expense.
Everyone sees them as a highly influential spiritual leader, and they often hold a position of authority in the church. Which means there can be greater victimization due to the one up nature of their relationships. They want to be the hero, the fixer, the problem solver, the savior. This is how they get their supply of praise from others.
They seem very concerned and helpful. It takes careful observation to realize that their motivations are actually all about themselves, not the well-being of others. In fact, it’s when you tell them “no”, put some type of boundary in place, correct them, or challenge them that you may finally begin to see their true colors. Sometimes it's years, even decades into a relationship with a Christian narcissist before you even begin to recognize what truly has been going on all along. This can be a life-altering realization.
Does this mean they are just evil? No, but the trauma wound is so deep that they are laser focused on trying to meet their desperate needs and the shame is so deep that they are in full defense mode and they lack the empathy needed to properly repair a relationship long term.
The gaslighting is so subtle that you begin to gaslight yourself on a regular basis. “He’s actually helping so many people, he can’t be that harmful, I must be making this bigger than it really is.” “She is so giving most of the time, maybe I am just ungrateful.” Don’t let them cause you to question your reality. If you feel confused, foggy, unsettled, while or after being with them, trust your gut.
The hurtful daggers seem small or even go unnoticed by others but they are incredibly painful to the receiver. The daggers could come by way of “jokes”, passive aggressive comments, guilt-trips, withdrawing love or withholding affection if they aren’t happy with you, silent treatment, blaming you, painful judgements, etc.
As Christians, we are taught to give people grace and chances, just like Christ did for us. We are taught to hold out hope! Hope, grace, chances, these are all beautiful. Yes, do that. Along with wisdom. Wisdom says we can offer grace and guard our heart. Wisdom says we can have hope, not in man, but in Jesus.
As Christians, we also all have coping skills that are in need of redeeming, we all sin out of a place of insecurity and poor coping at times. Thankfully, we have the fruit of the Holy Spirit to help us make healthy changes so that we grow in these areas. I believe this is the same for a Christian who has narcissism, the problem, however; narcissists don’t see that they have a problem to be fixed so they often don’t seek help for change. Which means, you are left being hurt over and over again until you begin to set boundaries to protect yourself.
If you are in a relationship with a Christian Narcissist and want to know how to set these boundaries, reach out! But if you believe you are in a relationship with someone who is abusive, please reach out to me or another therapist knowledgeable about abuse and narcissism before you set boundaries, as this could cause greater harm.
You don’t have to work through the hurt alone. Call to schedule an appointment, 601-573-2165.
So much more needs to be discussed in this area, this only scratches the surface. To be continued…