In the making of a narcissist (or sociopath or psychopath), the problem usually begins early on in their lives. It begins with their worth. They are being taught the wrong things about their worth, whether they think too highly of themselves or not enough. If they grow up being abused, they are typically taught that they have little or no worth. If they grow up being enabled, lacking discipline, and being put on a pedestal, they are being taught that their worth comes from who they are and what they can do. They get this feeling of superiority, taking little or no responsibility for their actions. Both of these are wrong teachings on worth. Every human life is priceless, and our worth cannot be assigned by what we can or cannot do, by any other human, by the mistakes or achievements that we make, or by what has happened to us. Our worth is assigned by our Creator, and as we look outside of Him to other things to assign our worth, we have a distorted view. When we cannot see our own worth through the lens of truth, we lack the ability to clearly see someone else’s worth.
When someone grows up having the wrong view of their worth being instilled into their hearts and minds, they tend to spend their whole lives trying to be satisfied with who they are. But they tend to come up empty handed until they find the truth, and sadly, some of them never do. When you grow up feeling ashamed of who you are, you spend a lifetime trying to cover up your true identity, wearing a mask. No one can wear a mask at all times. It has to come off at some point, and when it does it’s usually in the areas where we feel secure and in control. These controlled, safe places often have to be created, and it all begins with the masked self by luring people in that we can control. We are all capable of manipulation, it’s how we respond to boundaries and how we take on responsibility that makes a difference. Not everyone is an abuser, but the numbers seem to continue to grow.
It is awful for anyone to be abused, especially children, but we all have a choice as adults to take responsibility for our reactions and behavior. As adults (and sometimes even as teens) these abusers start looking for sources of “supply” that can be their safe, controlled places. The people they are able to remove their masks around. These supplies are often empathetic, co-dependent, naive, forgiving, loving, and all-around sweet people. Unfortunately, these people are often push-overs and enablers, allowing the “power”, ego, and superiority of the abuser to grow. Narcissists are able to be perfectly nice, fun, charming, and helpful people in the general public, but behind closed doors their supply (typically their families) are suffering greatly, and a cycle is continuing.
True Worth Revealed
I was (and in some ways still am) a person that embodies the characteristics of a perfect supply. God gave me enough grace to release me from the grips of my abuser, but my healing would have halted if God hadn’t revealed not only my worth, but also the worth of my abuser to me. I’m no better than my abuser in life or as a person. The only real difference between us is that one of us is repentant for our grievances and the other is not. That doesn’t change either of our worth. God created both of us in His image, both for a specific purpose. Knowing that, I also have to know that we each have the choice to walk out that purpose or turn our backs to it. Just because my abuser isn’t walking out his purpose, and he has treated others miserably doesn’t mean that God loves him less or that his life has less value than anyone else’s. God is using his sin, and working it in my life for redemptive purposes. And as long as my abuser has breath, he has time to repent and fulfill his true purpose (opposed to the path he has chosen).
Healing in Worth
I was able to really start healing when I saw my abuser as human and a creation of God rather than a monster. His actions were and continue to be monstrous, and they are by no means excusable, but he is still valuable. He chooses not to acknowledge his value, but I don’t have to ignore it just because he does. Even in his evil, he has played a valuable role in my life. He has taught me so much about myself, this world, and my God. Without him I wouldn’t have my three beautiful children, this ministry, or a deeper understanding of God and His purpose for relationships, suffering, and redemption.
I don’t see my abuser and wish that we were still together or that it could have worked out. I am happy we have gone our separate ways and live our separate lives. Seeing him as a human really helps me see the damage and pain he has endured throughout his life that brought him to where he is today. Doing this doesn’t let me excuse the decisions he has made as a teenager and adult, but keeps my heart soft. It’s true forgiveness. I love what Sue Detweiler says about forgiveness, “Forgiveness is trusting God for justice”. It’s not my job to punish my abuser for what he has done and continues to do. It’s my job to enforce my boundaries, keep others accountable when they cross them, and trust God for the justice.
It Always Comes Back to God
At the end of the day, my life isn’t about my abuser, but it’s about me and God. My abuser impacted my life in many ways. Most of those ways are negative, but I didn’t let them keep me down. His identity is wrapped up in himself, and mine was also wrapped in him for a long time. The way to free yourself from an abuser is by recognizing both your and their TRUE worth. Don’t let them tell you who you are. Don’t even let them tell you who they are, at least not with their words. Their actions will tell you everything that you need to know about them. They are broken, just like the rest of us, but they are choosing to live with a vision that they are more important than the next person, that they aren’t responsible for their decisions. Whether it’s because they are overcompensating or have been told that their whole lives, it doesn’t matter. What matters at the end of the day is that we are all accountable to God for ourselves, our own actions and reactions. The longer we focus on them, their actions, the labels they’ve given us, etc. the farther we are from getting the actual point. Their lives are not about us, and ours shouldn’t be about them. Our true worth and identity can’t come from anyone or anything other than our Maker, so we must always go back to Him to ask His opinion of us. It will save us so much heartache, self-loathing, and mistakes.
But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!
“Since you are precious in My sight, since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life.
Isaiah 43:1, 4
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.
[continue reading here to find out what He does with His/our enemies]
Do you need encouragement in knowing your worth or your abuser’s? Comment below, email me, find me on social media and reach out.
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