Narcissists and empaths often seem so outside the realm and reality of the Bible, God, and Jesus Christ Himself. But, we have to stop keeping them separate. First of all, God cares. If you are mistreated, He cares. If you are mistreating others, He cares. Nothing is out of earshot or eyesight from Him. I know it can often feel that way when things become so clouded and chaotic in our lives of being gaslighted, manipulated, and abused. Especially if our reactions aren’t to turn to Him. But, it’s never to late to turn around and say to Him that you are ready for His wisdom and help. I heard an analogy that really put it into perspective for me (especially because God can sometimes feel so far away). It explained that God doesn’t leave us, but in our sin, we are the one’s who turn and run from Him. He is chasing us the whole way, and when we finally turn around, we run right back into His arms. God and sin never go together. If we are living in disobedience, and happen to be on the receiving end of abuse, then yes, we are running from God. So often we enable and excuse the bad behavior. For me, it was both of those things paired with a good dose of trying to fit in by drinking and partying and people-pleasing. I was trying to fix my own issues without having to turn to God, and you know what happened? It got worse. I was in the depths of despair. That is what caused me to turn back to God.
What Does This Have to do With Jesus?
So how can Jesus relate? Well, I am under the impression that Jesus was what we call an “empath“. Basically, someone who feels the emotions of another in a deep way without having to experience what they are experiencing. In short, it’s having empathy, the main thing that lacks from the life of a narcissist, causing them to be just that. The difference between Jesus as an empath, and many of us, is that He lived as one in a healthy way instead of in a destructive manner. You don’t see or hear of Him enabling or excusing anyone, yet He had so much grace and sympathy for the hurting. Even if they were sinful, His mercy often caused them to turn towards God. Jesus had the boundaries, wisdom and discernment to know when someone was repentant and humble or when they were proud and living in sin. Of course, He had the advantage of being all-knowing, but I almost feel as though that would be harder. I can imagine Jesus experiencing the highs and lows of the emotional spectrum stronger than any one of us ever could. God sent Jesus down to earth in the form of a man to die for our sins, but also to give us a tangible way to believe that He really does know and He truly understands.
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. [Italics mine].
Empath – Burden or Blessing?
It is extremely uncommon to see someone using their over-empathic ways as a gift as opposed to a crutch or hinderance. Jesus was able to break down this stereotype and show us how to do it different – better. He didn’t relieve others of their responsibilities in helping them with their burdens. We aren’t to carry another persons burdens in a way that relieves them from carrying any of it themselves. We can, however, be there for them, giving them the support they need while they carry their own burdens, causing it to feel lighter. Once someone tries to push full responsibility (or even a large portion) to us of what belongs to them, we need to know immediately that it’s not the way God intended. But, if we see a brother struggling, let’s go help them (not save them, my fellow empaths, there is a difference).
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. Selah.
Empath or Control Freak?
I know, all to well, the overwhelming feeling of wanting to take control of a situation or even someone else’s life because I feel like my solution is best. There are people out there who will let us do that for them because they refuse to hold any kind of responsibility for their own lives (and we secretly love it for a time). It is a recipe for disaster. If you find that you are wanting change for someone more than they want it for themselves, it may be time (in that season – or possibly forever) to move on. Boundaries are the key to our freedom. Freedom to love and feel in the capacity we were blessed with without letting it become our greatest weakness.
The Purpose of Empaths
God made us empaths on purpose. I believe He did so in an effort to give others comfort in their trials when He isn’t yet ready to change their circumstances. Empaths are a gift to the suffering, but what happens when we are spending our strength on those who use and abuse us? We are leaving the suffering to continue to suffer with less or second-hand comfort. It’s hard to find the balance of who we should help and who we should pass by with not so much as a nod of the head. We need to be who God created us to be, but we must do it relying on His Spirit rather than in our flesh. Empathy is a strength, so why do so many of us let it be used against us as a weakness?
What is Your Super Power?
Did you know that the key “ingredient” missing from the narcissist’s/sociopath’s/psychopath’s life is empathy? They desire to use empathetic people specifically because they have the one thing that these people do not have. They want to drain our “power” for their own pleasure. Just imagine a super hero. Think of the bad guy trying to steal this hero’s super power or strength. They want it because it is desirable, powerful, and they don’t have it. They have to take it from someone against their own will because they are unwilling to work for it or even accept that it may not be obtainable to them. In a real situation, the empath is the super hero, and the abuser the bad guy. We can dodge their efforts to steal our super power. We must not be willing participants in aiding evil in their efforts to destroy anyone or anything that gets in the way of their ultimate goal – pleasing self.
“Empathy is the power to understand and share feelings of another.” -David C. McCasland.
Jesus lived a life that greatly balanced grace, love, and boundaries. He put Proverbs 4:23 into practice.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
Our Lord kept His heart open and pure, letting others in, but not being deceived by their foolishness and motives. At the end of His life, He was brutally beaten and abused to fulfill His main purpose on earth – death for our sins. He could have resisted it, He could have proven His abusers wrong, but He let God’s will prevail, even though it was painful. Throughout His life, people still tried to abuse Him in many ways, yet His boundaries kept Him whole. He didn’t associate with those who tried to manipulate and use Him. He surrounded Himself with sinners, yes, but they were repentant sinners, acknowledging the ugliness of their sin and turning from it. Pray for wisdom, discernment, and renewed boundaries set in love. Some of us will be abused to fulfill a purpose God has called us to, but we shouldn’t throw ourselves into those situations without a call. We don’t have to die for anyone’s sins because Christ already did that. We don’t need to volunteer to be martyr’s just because we aren’t willing to follow God’s Word better. He calls us to love, but not without wisdom, not without boundaries, and not in a way that makes excuses or enables. Ultimately, that is not love at all.
Give. But don’t allow yourself to be used. Love. But don’t allow your heart to be abused. Trust. But don’t be naive. Listen. But don’t lose your own voice.
Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. [Italics mine].
If you are an empath ready to start living empathetically the right way, please comment below, shoot me an email, or reach out via social media.
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