Category Archives: Toxic Tuesday

Personality Disorders in Prominent Positions

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Do you suspect someone you work with, or know, has a personality disorder? Has the leadership of your company, organization, or church been attempting to remove, dismiss, or terminate the person or their position?

Today I want to show you, with video, what someone with Narcissistic personality disorder Abuse supportersmay look like. While watching this short video, replace the character of Facebook co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, with a dynamic speaker who has a witty sense of humor and is a leader in the Christian community. Keep in mind that narcissistic personalities can still appear different; some are charismatic—some boring, humorous vs.serious, highly intelligent vs. below average intelligence, well spoken vs. inarticulate, life of the party vs. quiet. Regardless of their differences they have many characteristics in common.

Consider a person who intertwines scripture as a means for emotional control and twists verses to support their dominance over co-workers. A specialist who tries to tell others who they are with no regard to reality.

A person who uses their title or place of leadership as a cover for control, dominance, or even abuse is not only not a leader in the way the Bible sets forth but is instead a moral and spiritual failure. Let me make this clear: When it comes to leadership, domination is never a teaching of the Bible. But servant leadership is.

 

 Now add in a spiritual leader who is hired for being a biblically accurate communicator. Only to later find the person is aggressive and manipulative in the process of gaining control over an organization, church, corporation, committee, or an individual. When confronted about their behavior they insist that their underlying brilliance be seen, acknowledged and praised; not criticized. They are correct; explaining away and justifying their motive, words, or actions.
If you attempt to speak truth into this person’s life; you will not be given opportunity to complete your thoughts and you will not be understood.

When truth is revealed against the backdrop of their deception, sin, or crime they play the “I am special” card and, “This isn’t the way it appears” line. In classic narcissistic fashion they hold up a mirror and reflect the accusation being made against them back at the plaintiff. You will NEVER win an argument with a narcissist or point out their error since they are perfect and do no wrong. Remember the rules and laws do not apply to them: For more on this topic see previous Toxic Tuesday posts about Narcissism.

“Jesus…is the Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5) and the Lamb of God (Rev. 5:6) – He was lionhearted and lamb like, strong and meek, tough and tender, aggressive and responsive, bold and brokenhearted. He sets the pattern for manhood.” -John Piper

Narcissists like to explain why your accomplishments are of little importance and possibly not true accomplishments. They do not know how to encourage others and be genuinely happy for other’s successes. The only time you are praise worthy is when they can use your achievement to make themselves look better to someone else; or make it seem like your triumph was due to their input in your life.

You will not gain a narcissist’s understanding. You will be ignored, dismissed, and belittled Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallwhile the narcissist manipulates behind the scenes with no remorse or twinge of conscience toward the path of destruction they leave behind.

Narcissists are entitled to treat people however they feel with no regard to the other person’s feeling, needs, or input. They make executive decisions for everyone involved without allowing feedback, questions, or creative involvement. They are a god unto themselves and they like to surround themselves with people who believe everything they say without asking questions.

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Narcissists have no boundaries with other people’s feelings, ideas, and needs. When dealing with this personality there are phrases that you need to memorize and keep in your mental pocket.

  1. That’s not what I was thinking; or had in mind.

  2. That’s your opinion.

  3. My decision is final.

  4. I’m not discussing this.

You need to know what you are going to say before confronting someone like this and stick with your script. Most importantly you don’t want to show any emotion. Positive or negative emotion only feeds the narcissist; known as narcissistic supply. You must starve them of the reaction they desire.

It doesn’t matter if you see this type of person committing a crime, yelling at someone, or telling a lie; they will deny it. Worse yet, because they are grand actors and liars it is easy to believe their cover story. I’ve been through this time and time again and I believed the actor/liar on every occasion…they were that good…until I understood I was dealing with a personality disorder. Before that I truly believed they were misunderstood, set-up, manipulated, not at fault, lied about, and…that I was the problem.

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To be clinically diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder a person must exhibit five of nine criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 

Imagine being in a relationship with someone who meets all nine of the criteria. Once upon a time I lived with such a person. Now imagine the narcissism is the easiest part of the toxic relationship because underneath this surface lurks a tormented dark soul disguised as light.

One does not have to imagine long on this concept of darkness disguised as light since Satan has masqueraded in a cloak of light through the centuries.

Satan is not creative; just a good copycat who counterfeits everything he sees the Heavenly Father do. Satan produces many fake replicas; evil beautifully gift-wrapped with a forged logo or brand name.  As with counterfeit consumer products, Satan’s imitations are of a lower quality, sometimes not working at all, and often have toxic elements; producing toxic people—resulting in a lesser quality of life for God’s beloved children. Satan’s bogus plans, interjected into the lives of humans, have resulted in physical and spiritual deaths. Fatal poison has been packaged as the healing balm of Christ.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1
Scripture cannot necessarily help you discern a narcissist, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, because they are some of the best actors you will ever see. Dealing with this personality disorder is outside the box for Christians and even for many psychologists. It takes a long-term relationship to identify if a person suffers from narcissistic personality disorder; meeting the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

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The complexity of a narcissist makes them interesting to study, infuriating to live with, frustrating to work with, and the subject of psychological and spiritual scrutiny.

People can suffer from more than one personality disorder, or have what is called mixed personality disorder where the person meets criteria from several disorders, but not enough in any one of them to make a formal and supportable diagnosis in that area, the appropriate diagnosis is Personality Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified) with X, Y, and Z (or whatever) traits).

One of several overlapping disorders that can co-exist with narcissistic tendencies is obsessive compulsive personality disorder (completely different from obsessive compulsive disorder); characterized by a preoccupation of concern with excessive attention to details, mental and interpersonal control, and a need for control over one’s environment, at the expense of flexibility (everything is black and white to them). Money is viewed as something to be hoarded. Read about the entire criteria of this disorder at PhychCentral. If you question if someone you know has a personality disorder you should research disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders – DSM-IV.

Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Fatal Self-Love:

Toxic Tuesday: Unsafe Relationships

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Are you confused by a relationship?

Does the person you love seem not to appreciate, or to like little, or to like nothing about you?

Do you feel mildly harmed?

Do you ever think about the other person, “Oh, that wasn’t very nice. Or…Oh, they didn’t mean it”?

Do you justify the words and actions of this person?

Do you find yourself denying your instincts?

Are you the person responsible for making everything in the relationship okay?

Or worse…

Do you feel greatly  harmed?

Do you feel like you’re losing your mind?

Do you feel like you can’t do anything right?

Do you feel manipulated?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions—the below video may be the best invested 22 minutes of your week.

Gain strength, become educated, increase clarity, seek help. For me, Patrick Doyle is the best of the best for sorting out relational questions and difficulties.

 

 

 

Toxic Tuesday: #1 Sign of Emotional Abuse

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Today I’m addressing  emotionally abusive marriage which tend to be more prevalent within the church;. and oh boy, would I like to know why!

*Disclaimer— Emotional abuse can take place in any relationship: Friendships, neighbors, parent/child, siblings, co-workers, extended family, but for today’s purpose I’m referring to marriage. Although men can also be the victim, most of the people I come in contact with are women who are suffering in emotionally abusive marriages, or have left an emotionally abusive marriage.

I’ve heard many women say if only he would physically abuse me so someone could see the proof!

If someone hits you in the face and you get a black eye; it will be easy for onlookers to understand what happened. People will say, “Oh, he hit you; that’s wrong. He shouldn’t do that. I’m going to call the police.” Simply put: It’s physical abuse.  On the other hand; when you are alone with him and he says things to you no one knows about, he ignores you, gives you the silent treatment, withholds physical intimacy, withholds finances or necessities from you, and you rarely can do anything to please him, but can’t prove it; you feel hurt, crazy, afraid, intimidated, broken hearted,  unloved and neglected. This is more difficult on so many levels but also just as wrong as physical abuse; it’s emotional abuse.

Here is an example: A husband has a good reputation at church for his service, work, ministry, and/or is known as kind, with warm smile. At home he’s neglectful, doesn’t take responsibility for his actions, he never repents, picks fights, he’s verbally mean, or… he never says anything. He completely rejects the person and disregards them.

Do you recognize yourself in the above scenario? Do you feel like you’re losing your mind?

When you’re with someone who never takes responsibility for their actions you start to feel like you’re crazy. You’re know there’s a problem but when you go talk to your husband he responds, “No, I didn’t do that…you did that…you over react, you read too much into things… that wasn’t me. ..and you…and because…and that’s not why…scriptures says you’re supposed to …you can’t say that… you know…because that’s why…figure it out…I’ll be patient and give you time.”

You’re left wondering what on earth is going on.  Your head is spinning and you feel confused, lonely, hopeless, depressed at one time or another, and like you can never get an answer to your question, an apology, or closure to an issue.

Ask yourself this question. Does he ever take responsibility for his actions? No?

Then you need to know this: If you could hold an Abuse-O-Meter to the heart or head of your difficult person it would read, “Unsafe abuser” because the best gauge, the number one indicator for an unsafe abuser is that they never take responsibility for their behavior.

Yet in scripture God instructs us to confess our sins, to take the log out of our own eye, and if we know our brother has something against us—to go make it right with him. God does not tell the abused or offended to make restitution with the abuser or offender. The Bible places responsibility on the offender to make peace with the offended.  Can you imagine there is a human being on planet earth who will never need to take responsibility for a rude action, offensive comment, or ill treatment of someone?  That’s not realistic.  I only know of one person in the history of the world who could have done that and He is Jesus. Yes, the One and Only Son of God who is now seated at the right hand of our heavenly Father.

So if you’re with someone who never takes responsibility, explains everything away, justifies every word, thought and action—that’s a clue.

Next you need to understand that they are in complete denial and don’t realize what they’re doing. And no, you stand no chance of explaining it to them. You would be better off talking to a wall because any time, energy, emotion, logic or love you spend attempting to break through to them will simply cement in their mind that you are even crazier than they originally thought.

Counselor, Patrick Doyle explains DENIAL  as = Didn’t even know I was lying. That’s how much unsafe abusers believe in themselves

It takes an excellent counselor/psychologist to understand the self-deceived abuser who  believes their own rhetoric, lies, denial, rationalization, minimizing, justifying, and spiritualizing. Abusers believe every word they say. That’s why they’re so convincing.

You can’t perceive their nonsense which seems like pure foolishness to you. Although you may feel like you’re losing your mind; let me assure you, you’re not. Don’t believe it for a moment. And if you’re concerned you will lose your mind then you should seek professional help. Strong people seek help. When you’re in the middle of such messiness it can be difficult to see clearly, discern wisely, and respond with logical application and consequences. Let someone not emotionally involved see through the fog for you.

If you wonder if you’re in an unsafe relationship; locate ‘SOLUTIONS-HOTLINES-HELP’ in the margin of this blog and click ‘Mosaic Threat Assessment.’ It will direct you to an assessment questionnaire which is a strong indicator of possible danger.

Here is what I keep hearing from wife after abused wife:  She goes to a Christian friend, a spiritual leader, or her pastor and she receives this counsel, “Be Patient. Wait on God. Love him more. Be kind. Forgive him, kiss him more passionately, be more available in the bedroom, be more interested in his day, engage him in conversation, speak words of affirmation, show him respect and he’ll come around.”

Here is what Christian, counselor Patrick Doyle has to say about such advice: “I can tell you right now that if somebody has that much denial and they’re that harmful; loving them more will only embolden them to take more ground and be more mean…in their, kind, sort of way because of how they interpret it. When you start being nice; they figure you realize what’s going on and you finally came to your senses. Now you’re going to do it their way which is the right way; obviously, because that’s the only way there is! Their denial is so thick; they believe it!”

There you have it. The number one indicator of an unsafe abuser: They never take responsibility for their hurtful behavior.

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Recognize and Prevent Emotional Abuse

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This is for those of you who don’t have time to watch the almost hour long video attached at the end of this article. If you are in an abusive relationship and you do have time to watch; you will be greatly validated and encouraged. You’re not crazy…it’s really happening…you’re living through untold trauma, and you are incredibly strong to have endured for so long. My prayers are for you.

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I present to you, Patrick Doyle, counselor at Veritas Counseling and theDOVE.us

Recognize and Prevent Emotional Abuse

The core of marital counseling revolves around emotional abuse.

I was aware of a situation involving a woman in another state. Her husband was a very well respected man who early in the marriage; and thereafter, was abusive.  He was a stalwart member of the church who was well respected. The abuse kept going on until finally the woman realized through some counseling, and finding out her husband had a longtime porn addiction, that she needed to speak up. Well, her church didn’t really get it; they didn’t understand what she was trying to say. They genuinely wanted to help but they thought maybe she was making this stuff up…how could this be; we all think this guy’s great. As time goes on and she becomes more and more bold about revealing the truth to the pastor of her large mega church, he finally gets it. She actually went in the pastor’s office and had him watch my (Patrick Doyle) video on emotional abuse. Here are some excerpts from a letter that he wrote to his leadership after watching the video and ‘getting it’… about what the church is going to do to deal with this issue because he’s starting to see that they’ve missed the boat on this.

I am disturbed by the fact that women are coming forward telling me sad stories of long-term calculated abuse by their husbands. I’m aware of 6 or 7 cases that are current. These are good women who have experienced long term, 10-25 years, of abuse to varying degrees.  In some cases the abuse has been physical leading to domestic assault charges and imprisonment. In other cases the abuse is more subversive yet no less damaging. Emotional abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, roll abuse, financial abuse, and sexual abuse.  Sometimes I wish they would all just walk into my office with a black eye so I could see the indisputable evidence and call the police. Instead they tend to walk in with blackened and bruised hearts that bleed pain. It is more difficult to discern the extent of non-physical abuse but I am becoming more attuned to the signs of an emotionally and psychologically battered woman. These are not crazy women who are trying to find some sinister way to get out of a marriage; thus, submitting false charges against their husbands. I’m talking about good and godly women who over time have lost hope that they will ever be treated with honor as a wife, a woman, or a fellow heir of the grace of life. I am typically taken off guard thinking that their husbands were charming, gentlemen of God. Oh, what a false front an abuser is able to display.

We all know there is a difference between a difficult marriage and a destructive marriage.  We all have difficult marriages to some extent. There’s no such thing as a pain-free, argument free marriage. There is anger in every marriage leading to disputes, hurt feelings, and the need for healing. I have not called this meeting to discuss difficult marriages, but I am talking today about destructive relationships where one person is being systematically and consistently broken down by the other.

I am most deeply disturbed by the fact that in several of these cases these men are protecting their place within our church while the abused is made to feel like an outcast. The abuser sings in the choir, sits in the front row, leads in the men’s’ ministry, carries the friendship or support of a pastor or an elder, serves on some ministry team, plays in the band while the wife is made to feel like an unforgiving, un-submissive, self-willed, hardened sinner. The wife feels embarrassed around our church people while the abusive husband smiles and drinks coffee with his boys (church members).

Here is a transition: This man wants to do the right thing, but it’s hard because people come in and you don’t know if they’re trying to work you, manipulate you, or what.

Listen, someone who is in an abusive relationship…one thing abusers do is they never take responsibility.

Abusers never take responsibility. This is a key to recognizing one. As Christians we should be leading the way in taking responsibility. With abusers you can never get a clear answer in a question, or there is a constant blame shift, avoidance, minimization, justification, and spiritualization. They shift blame and everything becomes your fault.You start to feel crazy and doubt yourself which empowers the abuser all the more.

In the church what is said is, “If you’ll just love them more, if you just cook them the right meal, if you just have more sex with them, if you’ll just be patient then this will clear up.”

Listen, if you allow an abuser an inch they will take a mile. The more you submit to their abuse the more they are going to abuse because every abuser I’ve worked with is in abject denial. The abuser believes their own rhetoric. They will stand in front of you, look you dead in the eyes and believe what they are saying. When this happens; listen to your spirit!

For outsiders who wonder if someone is in an abusive relationship; listen to your spirit. You may want to ask the woman or her children, in a safe setting, if there is abuse in their home and ask if they need help.

When someone says they are a believer but they have no conviction or comfort—they don’t have the Spirit. I don’t care what they say, how many church services they go to, how much Bible they know—the evidence is in whether or not they are convicted. The conviction will lead to the fruit of the spirit. Right? You can feign the fruit of the spirit for moments at church, in front of your pastor, in Sunday School, at a pot-luck dinner—but behind closed doors with the person who knows you the best…if they aren’t the ones seeing it, then I’m really concerned.

If your wife (and kids) are feeling abused (and I don’t care if you’re an abuser or not)—that’s real—and we have to deal with that. If the wife, or kids, are misinterpreting something it will be easy to fix, but if they’re not then maybe we can heal the marriage before it absolutely is destroyed.

Sometimes they do this sham of responsibility taking…”I’m sorry. I know I did that.” Then they just keep on doing it. Listen, the evidence of conviction is a change in your behavior not just words. God does not convict in general; He convicts specifically. So when the abuser comes to you they need to confess specifically the sinful words, thoughts and actions (to God and to their spouse). Changed behavior is the evidence of conviction. Conviction, repentance and changed action all have to take place.

Are  you abused and feeling trapped (which is part of the abusers arsenal) but you’re at a point where something has to break, something has to stop; you recognize that it’s coming to a head?

I say this with all due respect. Don’t call the church. (Yours may be the exception, but there are tragic stories about women who went to their church and were placed under church discipline for talking poorly of their husband, and/or removed from the church for separating from or divorcing their abuser.) I don’t know if the church is prepared for this; you’ll have to make that assessment. Somebody has to know what they are doing and someone has to be willing to get involved. If somebody comes to counseling he can get involved in a certain degree, but really where the church has the ability to be transformational is to get involved in a big way on a day-to-day basis. That’s how we can really help these people. In my church we’ve set up funds to support women temporarily; to give them money so the abusive husband can’t control them financially. I’ve seen it a thousand times if I’ve seen it once. They start controlling the money. How’s the woman going to live? Those are real questions. That’s where we can come (help) balance the power.

If you think you are, or might be, in an abusive relationship talk to somebody who knows what they’re talking about. If you’re going to go to someone who gets involved and then they back away; that is way worse. In that case, don’t even broach the subject until you know you have support that’s going to stay. This is where the church has done a lot of damage. They get involved and then they back out because they get uncomfortable, in over their head, or whatever.

Do your research, ask around the community, take the knowledge you’ve learned to find long-term support because I’ve never seen an abuser who has gone that far and said, “Oh, you’re right. I’m going to quit being abusive.”

It’s possible churches get it and they do want to help; such as the pastor who wrote the email read at the beginning; earlier. They recognized it and set up something in the church to address abusers and the abused. The pastor; along with church staff and leadership took training for it because they care about the people.

Much of this teaching can also apply to parent/child relationships.

 

This is Carolyn speaking: There aren’t many Christian counselors out there who know how to handle abuse in the Christian home. Most will want the abused wife to attend counseling with her abuser. THIS SHOULD NOT BE. When calling a counselor’s office ask them what their policy is for helping abuse victims and their abusive spouse. Separate counseling is best. I’ll give you three recommendations for the St. Louis area at the bottom of this post. They do not take insurance; so you have to file ‘out of network.’ If you’re local and have an excellent referral please comment with contact information at the top of this post. There is also a link in the margin for Focus on the Family: Counseling service and one time free referral.

 

Counselors in the greater St. Louis area:

Terri Dempsey – (West county & Farmington) Encouragement, validation, and practical application for setting boundaries…with humor.  Double majored in Psychology and Theology receiving a Bachelor of Arts from Blue Mountain College.  Received  Master of Arts degree in Psychological Counseling from Southeast Missouri State University in May 1991.  The combination of a Christian and secular education allows her to understand and fit into both worlds.  Scripture tells us to be in the world but not of the world.

She treats most mental health issues and specializes in trauma, personality disorders, and difficult cases in adults, adolescents, and children.  She is certified in EMDR. In treating anxiety and depression whether in adults, adolescents, or children, there is often a common thread – trauma.  Trauma can be the basis of eating disorders, anger management issues, and severe stress as well as identity issues in children and adolescents.  If your spouse suffers from a personality disorder you will find help for staying, or leaving.

(314) 983-9300, by text at (314) 960-7589 and by email at hopecrossingcc@gmail.com

St. Louis Office
Castlewood Baptist Church
1220 Kiefer Creek Rd. Ballwin, 63021

Farmington Office
#7 South Jefferson
Farmington, MO 63640

Dr. Clay Coffee (St. Louis County) received his Ph.D. in Family Therapy from Saint Louis University and his Master of Arts in Counseling and Masters of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary.  He is a Counselor in Training working with couples, families, and individuals.  For typical marital issues he does couples counseling. For family issues he does group family therapy. He has served as a pastor and counselor in church-based settings for over fifteen years: working with couples and families in conflict

providing premarital education and counseling

caring for individuals and families walking through divorce and remarriage.   His additional areas of clinical interests and experience include working with adults experiencing grief and loss

anxiety and depression

the trauma of emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse

spiritual transformation and relational distress

parenting issues and season of life transitions.

Clay has also taught graduate courses on ethics and counseling and presented at national conferences on topics such as addressing family violence in the church and coordinating care between counselors and churches for the well-being of clients. His dissertation explored the influence of at least one partner’s religious conversion on the marital relationship and developed a tentative theory for helping both partners navigate potential loyalty conflicts.

Clay has a wife, 3 children and a black lab named Pepper.  He enjoys playing tennis & golf with his wife, co-managing a fantasy football team with his sons, watching and discussing movies with his daughter, and playing his guitar. (314)720-2710 ext 5  clay@killeencounseling.com 

 

Christy Brimm (St. Charles county) at Kaleo Counseling: kaleostl.com – Her bio states she works mostly with kids, but I’ve been told she is terrific, due to her passion and personality, for women who are in extremely difficult and abusive relationships.
Christy received her Master of Arts in Counseling from Missouri Baptist University and her Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Covenant Theological Seminary. She has gained extensive experience working with children, adolescents, women, and families via her 20+years serving in the Church. Her ministry experience has come in the form of working in children’s ministry, youth ministry, leading a life group for young families, and through leadership in Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). Christy has training in both school and clinical settings and is interested in offering gospel-centered counseling to youth and adults who find themselves in need of healing and wholeness. She also has a special interest in doing play therapy with children and working with families on parenting and relational issues. Christy is a Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor and is supervised by Martha Ankney, LPC. She sees clients at the St. Charles office and is an out-of-network provider. You may email Christy at cbrimm@kaleostl.com.

 

 

Toxic Tuesday: Do You Have Biblical Permission to Leave a Toxic Spouse?

Today I’m sharing the blog post that has daily, for 3 1/2 years, remained the most read article I’ve written. I’m not an expert in the field, but rather a survivor of a student field trip. I’m passing on lessons learned that took me years of relational toil, prayer, counseling, Bible study and research. Later in the article, and in the margin, I link to Leslie Vernick who is a godly professional on this topic. I cannot say enough good about Leslie. I wish she had been around 19 years ago when I was in the middle of dealing with my toxic husband who was a n angry and controlling pastor, abuser, and pedophile who suffered from mental illness and had a personality disorder.

(*Disclaimer: Mental illness does not make one an abuser, pedophile or criminal, nor does is diagnose one with a personality disorder. Most sufferers of mental illness live a normal, productive and fulfilling life with the help of therapy, dietary lifestyle changes, and/or medications.)

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Do You Have Biblical Permission to Leave a Toxic Spouse?

 

No matter how they treat me; I will choose agape love.

No matter what they do; I will forgive. Over and over.

No matter how messed up they are; I will be their helpmate.

No matter the mental illness or personality disorder; I will love in sickness and in health.

No matter the inability to parent; I’ll keep the children safe and sheltered.

No matter the addictions; I will pray for healing and restoration to come.

No matter the anger; I’ll wait for the therapy to work. I know they will get better with the help of a godly professional.

No matter the grounds for divorce; I will pray for forgiveness, restoration and family unity. After all, as Christians with God on our side, we can do the hard thing and make it through.

But what happens when you are the only one practicing these principles and actions?

Have you been to counseling, done the homework, practiced the applications, prayed and fasted but you are the only person in the equation who participated in all the above? This is the point where putting all the marriage and Christian help books away is beneficial. These books are for people in a relationship with a mentally healthy spouse. We all have issues. We all sin. But living with a toxic person is not the subject of these books. They are terrific books—wrong subject.

Did you attempt an intervention with the goal of leading your spouse to repentance, restoring the relationship, and providing emotional healing only to be told, “It’s all you. You’re the one with the problems. There’s nothing wrong with what I do or how I treat you”?

Did you serve them therapeutic separation papers to show how serious you were about saving your marriage and saving your family? Have they shown no serious action to remedy the situation? Or have they shown minimal—surface only, “Is this enough to satisfy you?” action. Yet there is no change in heart, attitude, addictions, words or actions.

If you feel led by God through much prayer; keep going: Agape, forgive, help, remain true to the covenant, protect, seek professional help, pray, fast and pray some more. Over and over. If this is your decision I highly recommend you visit Leslie Vernick’s website.

 Here is where the strategy must change:

Are you concerned for your safety and/or and the safety of your children due to abuse?

I want you to hear this in the sweetest most tender voice as I envelope you in a hug and gently declare, “God does not expect you to live like this.”

Are you concerned you will not be alive come tomorrow morning due to an angry and/or violent spouse?

Imagine I have my hands on your shoulders, as we look at each other tear-stained face to tear-stained face, “God does not want or require you to live under such conditions.”

Many theologians, pastors and Christians with the best intentions have written on this subject.  I am in no way an expert or professional and this is why I always reiterate the importance of praying, fasting and seeking godly professional counsel.

I grew up believing divorce was wrong. Period. Christians work it out.

It took years of experience and additional years of biblical counsel, Bible study, prayer and fasting to realize there were biblical grounds to leave a toxic relationship.

For more background information on toxic relationships, toxic people, boundaries, intervention, and therapeutic separation please read past ‘Toxic Tuesday’ posts.

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God states that He hates divorce; not the divorced. God has experienced what it feels like to have someone leave Him. He knows the heartbreak His loved ones will endure and He understands the generational stronghold Satan will attempt to wield over the family members. He desires to protect us from the hurt, pain, consequences and future oppression of divorce.

Scripture does not clearly address divorce due to  the circumstance of being married to an abusive; toxic spouse but we know, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16.  If we have a question about life we know we can find applicable help in God’s word.  Here are some verses to consider when in an abusive relationship:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.” Ephesians 5: 25-29

 “The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God’s grace, you’re equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground.” I Peter 3:7

But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.” I Corinthians 5:11

 “Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.” Proverbs 23:9

 “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” Proverbs 26:11

“Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.” Proverbs 27:3

“Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.” Proverbs 27:22

“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.” Matthew 18:6

 “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.” Philippians 3:2 

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20

 “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.” Titus 3:10

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 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.” Matthew 18: 15-17

 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:11

Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.” Proverbs 14:7

Our nation and our individual states have laws regarding abuse. If  something below is taking place in your home it needs to be reported to a law official immediately and you need to take safety.

  •          It is against the law to abuse another person.
  •          Physical and sexual abuse against children is against the law.

Also report it to the social welfare/department of family or child services office, a doctor of psychology, a local child advocacy center and possibly the Victim Witness Advocate at your local District Attorney’s office. You can call the Victim Witness Advocate at the state Attorney General’s office if you need help locating an advocate in your area.

Yes, your spouse may be arrested, but maybe this will make him/her realize the seriousness of how out-of-control they have become; possibly leading to real help, true repentance and possible restoration; although statistics backing this up are slim. You have every legal right to defend and protect your children and yourself. God does not expect you or want you to endure such abuse.

To say your abusive husband cannot change would be to deny the power of Christ. The flip side of praying, waiting and hoping for an abusive or severely mentally ill husband, or a husband with a personality disorder, to change is this: They have free choice and God will not make them do what they do not ask for or want.

The Bible gives two reasons for divorce; adultery and abandonment. Theologically many argue abandonment strictly means the physical state. I submit, in the case of abuse they have  emotionally and physically abandoned you through; abdication, blocked intimacy, isolation, loneliness, neglect, rejection and lack of protection. They have also; most likely, physically abandoned  a sexually monogamous relationship with you. I mention infidelity because I am yet to hear of abuse that did not include unfaithfulness; it’s possible but rare. They have left you with permanent psychological scars, often financially restricted or stranded you, verbally destroyed you (at this point many women wish they had the bruises and broken bones to prove the abuse) or; physical and/or sexual abuse of you and/or your children.

I view abuse as abandonment for these reasons: When the marriage covenant is made on your wedding day your husband promises, (the wife’s covenant is the same to her husband) “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honor, cherish and protect her, forsaking all others for as long as we both shall live.” When a husband is verbally and emotionally assaulting, beating/abusing his wife and/or children (I am not talking about thoughtful and lovingly administered spankings to teach your children right from wrong and to keep them safe from danger) he abandons the vows he made to his bride on their wedding day. Women who have suffered through a sexually unfaithful husband and an abusive husband can testify that the abuse is worse than the sexual infidelity. When her husband beats her, verbally shreds her, emotionally rejects her, or sexually assaults her, he has abandoned their vows and his relationship with her.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Do you feel trapped, despairing, brokenhearted, hopeless, devastated, betrayed, frightened or dead due to abuse?

Christ came to set the captive free as prophesied in Isaiah 61.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.  Isaiah 61:1-3

Freedom is found in Jesus.

Boundaries are necessary.

Safety is essential.

Healing is possible.

Tomorrow will come with ‘the oil of joy instead of mourning.’ It takes time; time does not heal. God heals—in time—even though scars remain.

MOSAIC: Threat Assessment for Abused Women

domestic-stats

Do you realize something isn’t right in your relationship or marriage? Not just inconvenient or annoying, but seriously wrong…hurtful, mean or controlling? Or are you aware that you’re already in an abusive relationship? Do you have friends, who have witnessed what they consider possible abuse, ask you if you are abused? Do you have family members who are concerned for your safety?

A caring childhood friend of mine, who also has a heart for people in abusive relationships, brought a new method of measuring abuse and safety, the MOSAIC method, to my attention. Thanks, Michele!

MOSIAC, created by Gavin de Becker,  is fascinating and helpful in that it “looks at the key elements of domestic violence and all the factors relevant to safety and puts them in context with each other. In the process, it helps filter out personal bias and denial.”¹

“Much like de Becker’s book Gift of Fear stresses the importance of listening to one’s intuition when fear signals arise in the body, in order to avoid dangerous people and situations, “MOSAIC is artificial intuition,’ says de Becker in one of his online videos. He says the test takes all the pieces of a potentially dangerous situation and puts them together, like a mosaic, to see what image emerges.'”²

“MOSAIC an ‘eye-opener’ in that it can help survivors more clearly see the reality of their circumstances, and helps advocates come up with the best safety plan for each survivor.”³

 

Watch this 7 minute video: Gavin de Becker on Mosaic – Assessment of Domestic Violence

 

 

To take the assessment test click here:  MOSAIC Threat Assessment Method

A situation might call for assessment as the result of someone’s intuitive feeling of risk, maybe because of threats or other sinister expressions, maybe because of verbal or emotional abuse, maybe because of violence, or maybe because friends or family are concerned about risk or danger.

The MOSAIC assessment needs to be taken on a computer that cannot be compromised—hacked. One thing most abusers have in common, which most victims or wives aren’t unaware of, is that abusers regularly hack into your emails, social media accounts, and phones. As of right now, every abused woman I’m in contact with shares story after story of her abuser hacking/spyng through avenues of technology.

Be safe!

Consider using a friend’s computer or go to the public library to use a computer. Use a safe password that nobody could know or figure out. And lastly, don’t tell your abuser or difficult person that you are taking the assessment; not for any reason! You don’t know the immediate or long-term reaction you might receive. Also, allow at least 30 minutes for the questionnaire.

The Mosaic treat assessment covers several types of threats and violence.

  • Domestic Violence (male offender)
  • Domestic Violence (female offender)
  • Workplace Violence (concerning a male)
  • Workplace Violence (concerning a female)
  • Threat by student (school)
  • Threat by student (university)
  • Threats (against public figures)
  • Threats (against judicial officials)

If you or someone else is currently in danger; leave and/or seek help immediately and call the police.

To take the assessment test click here:  MOSAIC Threat Assessment Method

mosiac-threat-assessment

 

¹,²,³https://www.domesticshelters.org/domestic-violence-articles-information/threat-assessment-tool-created-by-em-gift-of-fear-em-author#.WE-AerIrLIV

Narcissistic Slanderer

npd-32

Paul wrote the following New Testament verses to Timothy; concerning the character and behavior of leaders within the church, not in the world. He warned Timothy to beware that some will act out of a self-love attitude.  Paul says, “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.  They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NLT)

In 2 Timothy 3 Paul named many attributes associated with today’s modern psychology term; narcissistic personality disorder. Our world is quickly becoming familiar with this disorder in record numbers.

 

Today we will take a look at why a narcissist uses slander.

(We are not talking about a narcissist in general, but specifically someone with narcissistic personality disorder.)

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Narcissists tend to worship the fantasy of who they are in their mind. Larger than life is a good description of how to view the narcissist. They have built themself up to be greater than reality. They believe their own hype and therefore feel intrinsically superior to everyone around them. Their inflated false view of themselves (huge ego) is the foundation of their misinterpretations of reality; I refer to this as the, “I am and there is none besides me” mentality.

They feel superior in every way to everyone. This is a source of pain and envy for them whenever they feel out talked, out worked, out smarted or out done…by anyone.

Envy and jealousy are integral parts of narcissism (envy is a desire for what another person has, while jealousy is the fear that something can be taken away).  Narcissists are envious of anything in others that they themselves lack (i.e. beauty, possessions, knowledge, personal qualities, power, skills, achievements, qualifications, relationships, money etc). Envy can consume them, and the list of what they covet can be endless. Envy is a feeling which can range from mild to severe, from healthy to unhealthy, from positive to negative.  For example, healthy envy has positive qualities.  Healthy envy acts as a valuable guide. You may see something you admire in another person and decide you will grow in wisdom or character to achieve that quality—you use it for personal growth. Healthy envy is empowering because it brings you nearer to your life’s goal, or closer to the likeness of Christ.  Unhealthy envy is disempowering because it keeps you bound to a fantasy, making you blind to your own true nature.  Because the narcissist is a grand actor who acts out of a false self, they suffer from a twisted heart, leaving them at the mercy of their unhealthy envy—envy that can trigger their feelings of vulnerability, shame and self-loathing.  Any of these feelings can result in narcissistic injury, to which the narcissist almost always reacts with rage.  In order to free themselves of such emotional turmoil and recover their equilibrium, the narcissist mirrors those intolerable feelings onto the person of their envy.   npd-000Once you become the object of the narcissists envy you are in serious trouble.  In order to improve their own self-image they are likely to make false allegations about your integrity, lie about your motives, or paint you as a fool.  This is not innocent gossip, rather it is an intentional and premeditated character assassination that is aimed at defaming you in order to destroy your reputation and make them feel better about themselves.  Be warned, they are cold, ruthless, malicious, aggressive, self-serving, uncompromising in the pursuit of their objective, and do not care about your feelings. This can be dirty politics at its best.

If your narcissist is a family member you may wonder how they can love you and destroy you at the same time. Remember: They are and there is none besides them! Although narcissists are grand actors they have a difficult time sincerely bonding and loving unconditionally; even with their own family members. Their grand acting keeps people on the outside from seeing the inside truth.

npd-56

No amount of love, logic, accountability, discipline, or reasoning will get through to the narcissist. Trying to gain their understanding, attempting to bring them to repentance, or hoping for an apology is not an outcome based scenario in the life of someone with this personality disorder. In the end you will be increasingly frustrated over the time, energy, emotion, and/or finances you spent in vain. And here’s the real kicker…all your efforts simply reinforce to the narcissist that you are the irrational one.

Let me leave you with this: You are not crazy. What you’re experiencing is real. It’s wrong, it’s harmful, and it messes with our mind. Don’t allow the narcissist to place blame on you.

Learn 4 simple phrases for setting boundaries with a narcissist, or a difficult person…here.

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Toxic Tuesday: Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

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In older posts I have mentioned narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve also written about the possibility of an individual having more than one personality disorder. Today I will discuss a narcissistic sociopath.

“Narcissism is a term commonly used to describe those who seem more concerned with themselves than with others. It is important to distinguish between those who have narcissistic personality traits and those suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. Those with narcissistic personalities are often seen as arrogant, confident, and self-centered, but they do not have the exaggerated or grandiose view of their own abilities that characterizes narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a pervasive disorder characterized by self-centeredness, lack of empathy, and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. As with other personality disorders, this disorder is an enduring and persistent pattern of behavior that negatively impacts many different life areas including social, family, and work relationships.

Narcissistic personality disorder is thought to be less common than other personality disorders such as borderline personality disorderantisocial personality disorder, and histrionic personality disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder is estimated to affect 1-percent of the adult population in the United States and is more common among men than women.”  Narcissistic Personality Disorder Symptoms and Treatments, Kendra CherryToxic Tuesday biochem hazard small

Narcissism, not the personality disorder, is rampant in today’s culture. I’m not surprised because God warned us of this in II Timothy 3:1-8: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—  having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,  always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.” (NIV)

I feel like I have to purposely guard myself against displaying such traits on a daily basis. Sin and self-centeredness are my default. I also catch myself trying to NOT be like certain people. Talk about being a Pharisee! I have to constantly remind myself to stop the comparing and just be like Jesus. He is the only perfect example and the only One who can help me.

Today’s topic:  Narcissistic Sociopath.

Do you know what it feels like to live but not exist?

If you live with someone with NPD, or are in a significant relationship with them, then you know how it feels.

If you don’t understand; I will help you.

Where are you? Take a look around…look up, down, to your right or your left. Do you see a small object? Your phone, a TV remote, a pen, or a bottle of water. I happen to see a tape measure since I’m in the middle of decorating our new home. You may think I’m being ridiculous, but bear with me, I’m explaining objectification and dehumanization to you. Pick up the object of your choice and think about its feelings. What is it thinking? What are its hopes and dreams; its worries and fears? Is there anything you can do to give encouraging, positive and constructive support? Ask yourself if you’ve ever hurt its feelings or abused it. If so, name what you did, make a sincere apology, and give your word that you will not do it again. Empathize with your object.

Are you feeling absurd and pondering why you allowed a blogger to turn a person of common sense and rationale into a weird person who is currently having a heartfelt conversations with an inanimate object? Your object doesn’t have feelings, needs, hopes or dreams. They don’t require relationship, time, money or support from you to exist in your household. If I become mad or frustrated with my measuring tape I can throw it on the floor or toss it back in the tool box and slam the drawer. I won’t leave an emotional scar on the measuring tape and it won’t need therapy for the abuse it suffered by my hands. I can do what I want with it at my discretion…that’s how a narcissist views people around them.

We are objects: To be dismissed at the narcissist’s convenience…in their time…to serve their wants, needs and/or purpose. Our needs are unimportant to them—unless our need will somehow benefit them. If not, we are ignored, dismissed, abused or discarded. Just as non-narcissistic people view the objects in their lives.

If you live with a narcissistic sociopath you most likely feel like an object; with the exception you do exist. You are a living breathing human being made in the likeness of God; to love and be loved. But you feel like an object and you are not supposed to need time, attention, affection, space or money. It is expected you will only do the things you have been authorized to do and go places which have been pre approved.

According to Dr. Martha Stout’s book The Sociopath Next Door, sociopaths make up 4% of western society (Stout, 2010). Although not all narcissists are sociopaths, all sociopaths are narcissists (Stout 2010).

If you happen to live with one I am certain you did not willingly pursue such a relationship. No. These people use lies, manipulations and charm to hook their victim; in fact, they probably loved (or seemed to love) everything about you.  By the time you realize the truth and understand healthy, unconditional love isn’t possible, or perhaps they can’t stand you, it is usually too late. (It isn’t impossible for sociopaths to form emotional attachments with others, or to show empathy with certain people or groups, but they have no regard for society in general or its rules.)

Society tends to think of sociopaths as serial killers and murderers only; some are, but not all. They may be someone we would never suspect is evil or as being messed up emotionally and/or sexually. They blend in with us and they are terrific actors, manipulators and con-artists.

I have walked my readers through narcissism, narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder (also known as sociopath) one step at a time because if you recognize someone with narcissistic personality disorder you are one step closer to identifying a sociopath.

Another reason you tend to not recognize N.P.D. or a sociopath is because you are not a deceiver so you don’t know what one looks like. You are not a manipulator so you have no idea you are being played. You have the capability of loving and bonding so when someone acts like they do too; you have no clue they are performing. Here is the most disturbing part to me: Deceit is such a way of life for them that they are convinced of their own lies. Even when caught in sin or crime and confronted they think: “But wait, that’s not really who I am; therefore, I did not do that.”

i-did-not-do-it

 

I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist but I understand how these personality traits can infiltrate heart, mind, strength and spirit to the point you may believe you are the messed up, in need of help person in the relationship.

If you recognize yourself in such a relationship; seek professional godly counsel.  If you recognize a loved one as possibly having a personality disorder; seek professional godly counsel for them and attend with them. It will not be easy since the recovery rate for these individuals is debatable; between 1%-5%, and I think that is being generously optimistic. The most frustrating part is that the spouse, or significant other, may be the only person who sees and experiences the symptoms, crazy making and ruthlessness of these people. The reason: because they are capable of being grand actors, dynamic speakers, excellent writers, and fake sympathizers. That being said, statistics say many of these people either tend to mellow out between age 40-50 or have perfected their game. It is a toss-up.

This is about to go deeper so grab a cup of something hot to drink and don’t forget a little bit of chocolate.

Below you may read through the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), DSM-IV-TR. If you are certain you are dealing with N.P.D. then read the list of 20 sociopathic traits from the book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Dr. Robert D. Hare, Ph.D. I highly recommend you read this book if you believe you are in a relationship with a sociopath.

If you already know you are in such a relationship and you are in danger please leave immediately and seek help. In the margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships, resources for counseling services and referrals, and a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse.

The DSM-IV-TR defines narcissistic personality disorder as “an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts,” such as family life and work.

1. Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

2. Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion

3. Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions)

4. Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply)

5. Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment

6. Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends

7. Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others

8. Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly

9. Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, “above the law”, and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy. Sam Vaknin has a valuable book, Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited. This is a necessary read if you interact with N.P.D.

Have you or your loved one/friend qualified for 5 of the 9 criteria for N.P.D.? If so, go through the following list  for qualifications of a sociopath. (You’ll discover many overlapping traits from each list.) The list below of 20 sociopathic traits is from the book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Dr. Robert D. Hare, Ph.D

1. Glib and superficial charm. The tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Sociopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A sociopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example.

2. Grandiose self-worth. A grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Sociopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.

3. Need for stimulation or proneness to boredom. An excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Sociopaths often have low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.

4. Pathological lying. Can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.

5. Conning and manipulative. The use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims.

6. Lack of remorse or guilt. A lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims.

7. Shallow affect. Emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.

8. Callousness and lack of empathy. A lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.

9. Parasitic lifestyle. An intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.

10. Poor behavioral controls. Expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.

11. Promiscuous sexual behavior. A variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests.

12. Early behavior problems. A variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home.

13. Lack of realistic, long-term goals. An inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.

14. Impulsivity. The occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.

15. Irresponsibility. Repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.

16. Failure to accept responsibility for own actions. A failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.

17. Many short-term marital relationships. A lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.

18. Juvenile delinquency. Behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.

19. Revocation of condition release. A revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.

20. Criminal versatility. A diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes. (Hare 2011).

 

Don’t bury me I’m not yet dead
Don’t bury me I’m not yet dead
Don’t bury me I’m not yet dead
not a walking zombie with no head
not a stepford wife made to obey
don’t want to go through life that way

I’m alive I’m alive
that’s what I say
I’m alive I’m alive
gonna live that way
I’m alive I’m alive
that’s what I say
I’m alive and I’m gonna live today

Do robots dream of electric sheep
I need to live my dreams
not just in my sleep
I’ve been hold up here
but its time to leave
I need to make my move
while I’ve air to breathe
don’t give me drugs no novicane
I must be alive cause I still feel pain

we where born with wings
we where made to fly
we where ment to live
while where still alive

I’m alive I’m alive
that’s what I say
I’m alive I’m alive
gonna live that way
I’m alive I’m alive
that’s what I say
I’m alive and I’m gonna live today

Millenials and “Cool” Christianity

Damaris

Allow me to introduce you to Damaris.

I have known her since she was a young elementary grade student and now she’s in college. I adore her—so when I saw that she was writing I naturally wanted to share her thoughts with you.

Damaris recently wrote an article for an online website, Odyssey, which showcases student-written articles that are posted on Facebook and shared on all forms of social media.  Odyssey is a social content platform for millennials, from all walks of life, to share their ideas and perspectives about relevant topics which otherwise may not be heard. I’m so proud of Damaris for her bold stand.

We live in a society where words; descriptions and slang, are tossed around without thought and Damaris does a terrific job of addressing the issue.

Please hear the gentleness in my voice: For those of you who are not believers in Jesus; this article does not apply to you. This is fodder for debate among those who claim to be Christians.

Processed with VSCOcam with m4 preset
Image credit: Damaris Wyand

Millenials and ‘Cool Christianity reminds me of when God, in Genesis, gave Jacob the name Israel. We read in Exodus 1:9 that God’s people, who are slaves in Egypt, are still called the Israelites. They could have been forced to assimilate into the Egyptian culture, or they could have attempted to become part of the Egyptian empire, but they didn’t. They remained different from the nation and culture around them.  I think their peculiarities kept them enslaved; knitted together. If the Egyptians had been friendly to the Israelites it would have been easy to melt into the surroundings.  God didn’t want them to blend. He wanted them to be set apart; not accepted as friends of the society. We are not called to soak in our culture. We are called to exude Christ-likeness.

“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.” Psalm 1: 1-2

The above verses also speak to us on the topic of ‘Cool Christianity’. We are called to be Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallfriendly, to love other people, and to speak the truth in love which is different than walking alongside them and absorbing their worldly philosophies. We do not stake claim with them, or affirm or agree with what they are saying, or doing, if it is out of line with scripture.

Keep writing, Damaris! You do it well and I agree with you, “Let’s try to have as much of Jesus as possible and become more like Him. If the world rejects us, all the better. We are not here to blend in anyway.” We are to glorify God, love Him while we love and serve others, maintain unity with fellow Christians, and keep our identity in God—like the Israelites did.

A person who knows right from wrong and chooses to do what’s wrong is a sinner.

Is there forgiveness of sins? Of course! Christ’s finished work on the cross provides our redemption through the free gift of grace.

The apostle, Paul, addressed this in the book of Romans:

 So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!

That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.” Romans 6:1-5 The Message

 

Read Millenials and “Cool” Christianity by Damaris Wyand at theoddyseyonline.com

 

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 3

Naghmeh Abedini photo
Naghmeh Abedini’s Facebook Profile pic

In How Do We Respond: Part 2 I worked off the premise that, “Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.”

“The abuser needs healing.”

Now on to my reasoning for having the abuser obtain counseling without the presence or help of the spouse: The victim shares no responsibility in the abuser’s character, attitude or actions.

There is scriptural precedence for blame not being split down the middle.

Let’s consider Nabal and Abigail from I Samuel 25. Abagail was living in an abusive nightmare. And let’s make one thing clear: No woman deserves to be abused. Education, social standing, beauty, or lack thereof…nothing gives cause for a human to be treated with abuse yet we read of Nabal, an abusive husband to, Abigail, “an intelligent and beautiful woman.” The Bible describes Nabal as harsh and evil in his dealings. I Samuel 25:3. I understand a good deal about narcissistic personality disorder and will restate what I have read numerous times from Christian psychologists; Nabal was a narcissist.  He was utterly selfish, ungrateful, mean, sarcastic, arrogant, and lacked any amount of empathy.

An extremely wealthy Nabal refused David’s request to feed David’s 600 men. That was the hospitable custom of the day for travelers; especially since David and his men had been protecting Nabal’s workers from theft and harm during their stay in the desert. Thereafter, when David went to kill Nabal and the males who belonged to Nabal, he met Abigail riding her donkey on the road. She was a wise woman and was on her way to intercede with food and drinks, and to ask for forgiveness. I imagine she was thinking of her innocent family members; not Nabal. Abigail, “got off her donkey” and pleaded, “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent.” After David listened to Abigail’s appeal, he was impressed by her and thanked her for keeping him from bloodshed that day.

Abigail showed immense courage; plus she was sensible, capable and persuasive. Being an abused woman DOES NOT mean you are weak, incapable, stupid, unattractive, boring in the bedroom, or insensible. Most likely you are strong. How else could you survive the abuse?  Nabal could have severely punished Abigail for her independent actions that went against the rules of marriage in those days. David and his men could have taken her life and continued on to massacre Nabal’s household. Yes, Abigail, was strong and courageous.

David was wise. He listened. He took extra time and effort to understand Abigail’s predicament. He did not hold Abigail responsible for her husband’s actions or tell her she held a portion of responsibility for his actions.  Neither did the Lord; in fact, when Abigail told Nabal what she had done, “He became like a stone.” Possibly he became so worked up that, “His heart failed him.” Ten days later the Lord took Nabal.

I can’t tell you how many abused women have hoped for such an ending. I would like to take a poll and find out for myself. That may sound terrible but I’m just being honest. The flip side of this is the numerous women who were in total despair, saw no hope, and imagined there was no way out; choosing instead to end their lives with suicide.

 

Now let us take a look at Lot and his wife in Genesis 19.  This is the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the city which archaeologists claim to have found in the last few years.

Sodom and Gomorrah is a stern, wise warning that indulgence, not restrained by the Holy Spirit in us, arouses lust and can leave us continually wanting more. Lot, his wife and their family were told to, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back.” Lot’s wife disobeyed the urgent command and looking back, turned into a pillar of salt. Did the Lord judge Lot by his wife’s actions? No. Lot’s wife made an independent decision and received the foretold consequence for her actions.

Now we will look at Joseph in Genesis 39. He acted honorably with truth yet Potiphar’s wife persuasively lied resulting in Joseph’s imprisonment.  I believe Potiphar probably knew his wife was lying and that is why he, “Burned with anger” when he heard the accusation. Because Potiphar’s entire household, including slaves and servants, heard the charge; he was forced to take swift action.  Potiphar chose not to have Joseph executed; in fact, Potiphar (Captain of the guard a.k.a.; prison warden) still trusted and respected Joseph and saw fit to place Joseph in charge of everyone, and responsible for everything done in the prison.

This is often what women go through in joint counseling when the husband spins a different story. They play the role of victim and the wife gets scolded; leaving  her isolated, in despair and in an emotional prison because the professional they trusted to see through the grand acting is blind, deaf and dumb to his antics. Her husband looks great to others around them, and she hurts and grieves horrifically behind closed doors in her home. It is common for the wife to be disbelieved; leaving her beaten down.  The wife may feel like the counselor just dug her grave so her husband could bury her alive.

Another problem women tend to have is that some male counselors refuse to call the husband on the carpet over his abuse in front of the wife due to the patriarchal system to which some Christians adhere. In such cases the counselor will reprimand the wife for her desperation or for showing emotional responses to her deep marital wounds. A patriarchal social system can be defined as a system where men are in authority over women in all aspects of society; a false sense of male entitlement. This system employed by an abuser can lead to further verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse in the home; silencing the victim. We need people who will hear and,

 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9.

Many in our own American culture seem to hold a view of women as substandard beings. Case in point: Google all the revolting, insensitive, demeaning statements presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, says about women. We don’t need him standing at the top of that slippery slope encouraging other men to join him for the ride.

 “Women, our gender will not flourish in a political climate where we are objectified OR deified.” –Beth Moore

The church needs to educate itself on domestic abuse. There are women you see in church every Sunday who are sitting next to their abuser. She has done nothing wrong and yet most counselors would give her at least a gentle rebuke for saying anything negative about her husband when she desperately needs someone to hold the abuser accountable. A gentle rebuke for the abuser serves no purpose; in fact it is a nauseating jest for the woman, as nothing changes. Only strong accountability by the church and a counselor who specializes in rehabilitating abusers will help.

To read a chilling account of a husband and wife who both lacked integrity and who were equally paired in their deceptive ways, duly receiving the same consequence, read Acts 5:1-11. This lesson is not about marital abuse but rather marital co-conspiracy. Peter exposed their fraud of lying to the Holy Spirit and embezzlement.  The punishment was proportionate to both; death.

Isaiah 1:17 reads, “Learn to do good; seek justice; reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan; plead for the widow.” Women in this situation are widows; sometimes they are married widows because their husbands have emotionally and spiritually divorced them.

When abuse revelations come forth from a woman in ministry, or she is married to a spouse in ministry, or is publicly well-known—few are interested in hearing the truth of her suffering, and fewer are willing to risk supporting her. It’s uncomfortable to hear. Unless you are living it, it is difficult to imagine such behavior is possible from someone who has been held in such high regard. Although the husband has emotionally and spiritually left the wife he pours on the charisma, charming smiles, spiritual talk, and engaging conversation to outsiders.

“I fear many of us have confused Christendom with Christ. We equate Christian institutions and organizations with the Son of God. They are not the same. Christendom is not even the same as the true body of Christ. Jesus Himself told us that. He said there are tares among the wheat, wolves among the sheep, and whitewashed humans posing as believers — sometimes in leadership. We long to be comfortable somewhere, to fit in, to feel at home, and so we let ourselves think Christendom is safe and fail to see and assess and discern. Instead we listen and follow, or we remain silent. Many poor sheep have unknowingly followed a blind guide and landed in a pit. Christendom, like all institutions or organizations, tries to protect itself. If you doubt that, just expose a case of child sexual abuse by a leader and watch what happens.  Christendom has used Scripture to support or hide slavery, racism, domestic violence, and other cruelties our God hates. I fear Christendom today has become less interested in truth and more interested in power and protecting that power. Many have acquired fame, money, status, reputation, and kingdoms. At the same time we are steeped in pornography, marriages are failing in large numbers, the next generation is turning away, and we tolerate leaders in our organizations and pulpits who feed off the sheep. We have had a lot of recent headlines about Christian leaders and Christian systems that look nothing like our Lord. Christendom is not Christ.”¹   – Diane Langberg  

 

This reminds me of when leaders were waiting to see if Jesus would challenge Sabbath teachings by healing a man, (Mark 3) and a woman (Luke 13) on that day. Jesus did heal the needy man and woman, and he told the leaders that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. I believe the same applies to marriage.

The church must choose to love people more than they love things such as the institution of marriage. My commitment to my marriage covenant, and my false belief that divorce was wrong in all cases, kept me in a very sick and dangerous marriage for too long. You cannot make your husband love you, or reason with him to stop the abuse.

Wives in abusive relationships long for their abuser to be reasonable.  This will not happen. He’ll justify every offensive word and action. His refusal is the headquarters of his control. Nothing is more frustrating, or more difficult, than living with an unfair, unreasonable, and self-centered abuser.

I have learned that the percentage of abusive men who actually change is close to nil. It usually only escalates. This is a sad fact. It isn’t hopeless if the husband wants to work through the dysfunction because he, “Can do all things through Christ who strengthens” him. We know our God is the God who makes impossibilities possible.

Regardless of an abuser’s cruelty, selfishness, deceit, unfaithfulness, addiction, and/or weakness,—it can’t trump God’s strength.

Prayer for Naghmeh is essential during this time. I hope many more choose to cover her in prayer.

Naghmeh is handling the marital separation with strength that comes only from God, and I admire how she is taking her stand quietly, working hopefully, not bashing her husband, and yet preserving her own dignity.

 

___________________________________________________

¹ http://byfaithonline.com/suffering-and-the-heart-of-god/?platform=hootsuite

 

MORE ARTICLES ON NAGHMEH ABEDINI:

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 1 March 1, 2016

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 2 March 3, 2106

Naghmeh Abedini’s Leaked Letter December 8, 2015

She Said He Said: Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini February 2, 2016

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: The Secret Language of Narcissists: How Abusers Manipulate Their Victims

 

Validation.

Isn’t that what so many people who suffer from narcissistic abuse long for in their lives? Yes!  (Most sufferers are women since the majority of narcissists are men.)

I hear from so many of you who live with, or are in some type of relationship with, a narcissist. Many of you tell me of being divorced from your narcissist, but your children are stuck in the middle and are still heavily influenced, and/or abused by him.

Here is another article that will remind you: You’re not crazy, and you can take back the control and power from your abuser.

GUEST POST:

The Secret Language of Narcissists: How Abusers Manipulate Their Victims

 

a real man is

 

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 2

Save Saeed
One of many times Naghmeh brought her husband’s unjust imprisonment to the attention of the world.

 

Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.

The abuser needs healing.

If a woman’s husband has cancer she cannot go to the doctor and receive treatment for him, nor can she consume half of his prescriptions for him. He would need to take all the treatments and meds by himself; for himself. In the case of marital abuse; experts recommend isolated counseling for the abuser. Alone. Long term. Without the spouse.

 

This is a continuation of my last blog post, “Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond?”

Saeed prayer vigil
One of several prayer vigils and times of fasting and praying, Naghmeh, led on behalf of her husband.

Today I again write from a place of vulnerability for the sake of abused Christian wives, especially pastors’ and missionaries’ wives, who are in abusive marriages. My heart goes out to hurting women who are not believed when they finally muster up the courage to tell their family, friends and/or church that they have been secretly abused in their own home and are now seeking help and healing.

As I wrote in my last blog post; Christian women are taught to stay, pray, hope, encourage, love through actions, and wait on God. Here is the catch—God gives us free choice and the spouse has a choice in the outcome. The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness.  God does allow for separation and divorce. See Toxic Intervention. A Toxic Relationship and a Therapeutic Separation. Biblical Permission to Leave a Toxic Spouse.

You never know what goes on in someone else’s home. You have no way of understanding if the woman sitting next to you in Bible study, or worshiping next to you in church is secretly being mistreated in  her home. If she should muster up the courage to tell you; please listen. Please believe her.

GRACE 11

What is at the root of abuse?

Most abuse comes from one, or a combination, of these factors:

  1. Pornography and sexual addictions
  2. Substance abuse
  3. Personality disorders or untreated mental illness
  4. Deep seeded societal and/or nonbiblical religious views of women as objects/property
  5. The abuser has a background of victimization
  6. The abuser is emulating what they learned as a child from their own dysfunctional parent/s.

Yet an admission of guilt from the abuser is rare; and more exceptional is an abuser seeking heartfelt help to overcome their attitudes and actions. What’s more common is the abuser denying responsibility, placing the blame on the victim, and justifying every unloving word, dishonorable behavior, and/or violent act. As if this isn’t difficult enough for the wife to survive (or in some cases the man because there are abused men too) she has to endure his grand acting ability to win over anyone who will listen to him.

By the way; the above is not limited to marriages. It can be found in other relationships: Friendships, significant others, extended family, siblings, co-workers, politicians, community leaders, or neighbors.

In Naghmeh Abedini’s case she has to endure seeing television and internet interviews, and reading newspapers, blogs, forums and Facebook posts where Saeed acts like nothing is wrong except a wife who has undergone extreme stress for the last few years during his imprisonment and needs help overcoming her issues.

I understand some of Naghmeh’s heartache and frustration, but I never suffered in a media driven, national and international, environment as she is.

By the way—you’ll notice I don’t refer to Saeed as, Pastor Saeed. It is purposeful due to the fact that he is not an ordained pastor through any church denomination, or non-denomination; rather he purchased a mail order certificate.¹ Plus the Bible has clear teachings about those in leadership and teaching positions in the church for which Saeed does not presently qualify.

“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” I Timothy 3:1-7

 

In a statement to the Idaho Statesman (January 30, 2016), Saeed thanked his wife for advocating on his behalf. He said that his marriage is troubled and that he is not perfect, but he downplayed the allegations of abuse.

“Much of what I have read in Naghmeh’s posts and subsequent media reports is not true,” he said in the statement. “But I believe we should work on our relationship in private and not on social media or other media.”

“In private.” “Not on social media or other media.”His words.

Two weeks later on social media Saeed posted this:


FACEBOOK:  Saeed Abedini
 added 2 new photos — with Saeed Abedini.

February 14 at 8:38pm ·

Warm Greetings Dear Saints!

We Love because He first Loved us. (1John 4:19)

This is my first post on Facebook after 4 long years of imprisonment. I see there is a LOVE story between us as I went through hardship of imprisonment by you showing your support with sending hundreds & thousands of letters of encouragement and LOVE to the prison. 1000’s of cities and countries and locations gathering for pray vigils, sending gifts to my wife and children, etc.. .
You created a LOVE story that even Muslims in Iran talked about.

My beloved sisters and brothers, I want you to know how much I LOVE you and how much Your prayers and support changed my situation and how much I am thankful for your heart and Care.
I am grateful for marriage counselors who have been helping me but my wife’s relationship with me is not good at this point, so we need prayer that she joins this counseling process with us.

Free By Christ For Christ
Saeed Abedini

 

An emotionally and spiritually healthy husband would not put such a spin on his words. I read an agenda, an ulterior motive coming through loud and clear. He could have requested, “Please pray for my family” but didn’t. He referred to marital problems and stated, “My wife’s relationship with me is not good.” He manipulated words to indicate to his readers that Naghmeh is the one getting in the way of reconciliation; not him.  Please refer to my opening paragraph, “Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.”

Abusers lack humility and honesty. They fail to take responsibility for their role in the condition of their family and marriage.

A godly man would not treat his wife like this—he should advocate his willingness to seek healing and restoration, or make a full admission and acknowledge she has biblical grounds to leave him. Publically, Saeed is making no attempt to win her back. We read nothing like this.

 

This reminds me of my own ex-husband. He was abusive in the home, ripe with mental illness, and void of conscience all while publicly portraying the godly, soul-winning, personable, full of charisma, scripture quoting, dynamic speaking pastor.

While he was sitting in jail, awaiting trial for being a child molester he penned a letter. The letter was downright disturbing for me to read but what angered me was the fact that the evangelistic association he sent it to believed him. Then they adored him—and praised him—and forwarded the letter to their prayer and financial partners all over the world so they could pray for this (supposed) humble, misunderstood, wrongly accused man of God. Read the letter here: Man Sentenced to Life in Prison Under Jessica’s Law

 

Based on personal messages I receive from readers; abusers know no boundaries and come from every walk of life including Christian ministry homes. I read of abuse in evangelical homes being common place. I read of some church ministries which recommend the wife stay silent for the sake of Christ’s reputation. What!

Christ does not need us to protect His reputation. He is completely secure in who He is. There is nothing we can do, good or evil, that changes who He is and what He can do.

The book of Isaiah holds a prophecy of the coming Messiah: “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,  to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,” Isaiah 61:1b

He came to set us free; on earth, and for eternity.

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them;” Ephesians 5:11

 

Sincere sorrow, true repentance, and a renewed heart toward his wife and children would keep Saeed Abedini out of the spotlight, or at least initiate confessing his problems so healing and reconciliation could happen in his family.  Instead he is enjoying the fame and taking advantage of the free press, television air time, and financial help while it is available while showing no remorse for his actions toward his wife.

 

As my ex-husband insisted, God had called him to the ministry and not even his wife and child were going to keep him from his calling. The truth was he relished the public popularity ministry afforded him, and he enjoyed his sinful, messed up choices in life more than he desired healing and reconciliation.

Many friends, mentors, family members and church leaders attempted to call my ex-husband (at the time my husband) to accountability. People saw character flaws, sin issues, and leadership problems but he refused help, church discipline, and would not listen to those in authority over him.

 

I’m glad Saeed Abedini was delivered from an unjust prison sentence. I pray he finds the strength and courage to repent, honor God and honor Naghmeh, and show both God and Naghmeh respect from a grateful heart; a heart full of healed, true love.

In my next post I will give scriptural precedence for blame not being split down the middle for a marriage in crisis due to abuse.

Naghmeh remains verbally, publicly challenged by many who do not believe her story.  I hope through sharing my history and insight with my readers that more people choose to trust her testimony, and lift her up in prayer.

 

GRACE 5

 

_______________________

¹. Facedbook; Naghmeh Abedini, public profile page, March 1, 2016, 6:07 a.m.

love and admire for strength

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond?

Naghmeh Abedini photo
Naghmeh Abedini’s Facebook profile pic

I’ve never found a handbook that teaches a woman how to, step by step, respond or react to her abuser. Emotionally and spiritually there is rarely consistent logic to a victim’s response to abuse. It isn’t easy to reconcile what’s supposed to be love with what is committed as abuse.  No two abusers are alike and their victims have different coping techniques.

In this, and future posts, I will share my thoughts on Naghmeh Abedini’s abuse allegations.

An abuse victim play-by-play book doesn’t exist; however, there are helpful books on the subject that can now be found for sale or at your local library; for that I’m thankful.

The Verbally Abusive Relationship

The Emotionally Destructive Marriage  

See the Emotionally Destructive Marriage website

Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of their Husbands

 

Why did Naghmeh take so long to tell, you may be asking?  Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard small

Possibly, simply because Christian women don’t tell.

Good wives don’t talk poorly about their husbands. You never tell your family because that may incite them to not like him—and they might encourage you to leave him. We are taught at Bible College, in the church and by godly older women that we never speak poorly of our husbands; especially when you are in the ministry—which she was.

They are to encourage their husbands, respect their husbands, forgive them, pray for them, hope in them, help them, and make love a daily action even when they don’t feel like it. Be intentional about how they respond in love; not frustration or anger. Don’t dwell on the negative; concentrate on the good parts. Be the one to set the tone for the atmosphere in their home to keep it positive and productive. Let go of pride.

Don’t compare their marriage to anyone else’s marriage. Don’t compare their attitude or actions to his. Pray that God will change their heart and through that, improve the difficulties in their marriage.

Care, adore, smile, kiss passionately, forgive, forgive again, be gracious, listen, compliment him, comfort him, and be content. Stay…always stay the course—it WILL pay off. It will!  It does not matter how the woman feels; what matters is how they respond. With God, all things are possible! Especially if both of you profess Christ as your Lord and Savior.(The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness.)

Remember there were reasons she grew to love him in the first place. There were and are good qualities too.

Many Christian women who are abused by their husbands often suffer in silence; praying and waiting on God to deliver them while being careful not to shout from the rooftops, or whisper in the corner, their husband’s abusive nature.

Add in public ministry, and revealing the abuse becomes more difficult. Remember she did take legal action against him in 2007 for domestic abuse.

On top of all this, if it were me, I would begin to notice that life was easier without him around. A wife would notice, “I’m beginning to feel like myself again, I am competent, I’m not crazy, and it’s not all my fault.” The realization might be followed by a sigh of relief that the abuse has stopped due to his imprisonment.

Then God calls you to do what no one else will have the passion to do for the father of your children, and that is be a voice to citizens, churches and government for the plight of persecuted Christians around the globe; along with, your husband and other American citizens being held hostage; wrongly imprisoned in Iran. Toss in being in the international spotlight and you have a recipe for keeping quiet in the moment.

And if God called me to do this for my husband; I would hope and believe with all my heart that the man I love would come home, if he comes home, a changed man. Come home repentant and apologetic for the ways he abused me and didn’t love me the way God intended for him to love me. Yes, in my mind I would believe God allowed him to be wrongly imprisoned to get his attention and lead him to change his heart and actions.

 

We can make many guesses as to why God allowed Saeed to be freed from prison at the same time as allowing this story to come out in the news. I believe God’s heart and will is to humble and bring Saeed Abedini to true repentance—something being a hostage in prison seemingly failed to do.

I also believe God wants to set the prisoners of spousal abuse free. Naghmeh’s story has international pull.  Let’s pray for freedom to happen instead of enabling her husband’s sin through undeserved flattering praise.

Jesus Christ never treated women in a hard-hearted or dismissive way, or used violence against women for any purpose. Jesus came to give our dignity, worth and voice back to us.

 

Over time I have become a HUGE advocate of individual treatment for abusers; which does not include traditional marital counseling between the husband and wife. THIS DOES NOT WORK! Abusers tend to be smooth talkers who NEVER take responsibility for their actions. NEVER! They spin, justify and explain away every abusive word and action. This can cause total despair for the wife and has on occasion led to abused women committing suicide.

I’m saddened that there are several men, and even some pastors and leaders, who are treating Naghmeh in a dismissive—you have a part in this too—way. She is the victim! She bears no responsibility in Saeed’s treatment of her. For Saeed, or anyone, to say counseling cannot happen unless Naghmeh joins him is foolish.¹ At this point they do not need marital counseling; Saeed needs long-term, professional counsel from a godly teacher who specializes in rehabilitating abusers. Until then, Naghmeh has every right to maintain distance. Most counselors would want to split blame down the middle between Saeed and Naghmeh, but those who specialize in treating abusers know all the blame goes squarely on the shoulders of Saeed.

Few want to risk supporting the abused wife.

Please join me in supporting her through prayer to the One who hears, who knows, who cares, and who acts on behalf of the prayers.

To be continued…

if he really loves you

¹. Facedbook; Saeed Abedini, public profile page, February 14, 2016 at 10:38 p.m.

 

Why Men Don’t Change

Source: Why Men Don’t Change

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard small

I’ve been a reader of Gary Thomas’s books for several years and I’m always thankful for his spiritual insight and practical applications.

This article will be helpful to many of my readers who are in difficult marriages, or know a friend or loved one in a difficult marriage. The difficulty could be due to mental illness or ‘functional fixedness.’ Although some mental illnesses have roots in chemical imbalance or genetics; many are due to long rooted sin that has become a ‘normal’ way of life, but make no mistake, it is a sinful pattern and it CAN be changed. The person has to want to change and that is where Gary Thomas has insight into how to pray for this change. His future blogs will have practical application on the subject.

“Many wives live with great frustration because even though they point out to their husbands how much they are hurting, their husbands don’t seem to care and they don’t change. In many cases, this is due to ‘functional fixedness,’ which means a man isn’t motivated by his wife’s pain; he’s only motivated by his pain. This is a spiritual condition and directly related to his spiritual maturity. If you or someone you know is stuck in the mire of living with a recalcitrant spouse, you might find this post particularly helpful.”

 

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