Morning Friends,

Wow, we had quite a lively conversation on our last question. Someone asked if I notify the person whose question is being asked. I usually do, but sometimes I forget to get their e-mail when I collect the questions that are sent to me. I appreciate your opinions and thoughts about being generous as well as not being enabling. Sometimes that is a hard balance to achieve and most times we will more naturally err on one side or the other and need growth and practice in learning the other side. But I think it was a great exercise in seeing that there are valid perspectives from both sides.

I’m a big fan of Brené Brown’s research and writing. I’m currently reading her new book Braving the Wilderness and she has a lot to say about how to have constructive disagreements.

Here’s a great piece of wisdom.  She writes, “One response to this is to “Get angry and stay angry!” I haven’t seen that advice borne out in the research. What I have found is that, yes, we all have the right and need to feel and own our anger. It’s an important human experience. And it’s critical to recognize that maintaining any level of rage, anger, or contempt (that favorite concoction of a little anger and a little disgust) over a long period of time is not sustainable.  

Anger is a catalyst. Holding on to it will make us exhausted and sick. Internalizing anger will take away our joy and spirit; externalizing anger will make us less effective in our attempt to create change and forge a connection. It’s an emotion that we need to transform into something life-giving: courage, love, change, compassion, justice…..Either way, anger is a powerful catalyst but a life-sucking companion.”

That said, I know that some of you feel angry with those you live with or those who “don't get abuse, especially the more subtle forms of mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse.” But let’s use that anger constructively as a catalyst for change, either in ourselves or in others or in the system itself. Let’s continue to speak to one another out of CORE and speak our mind, but not attack or accuse others.

One more thing, I have a free webinar coming up next Tuesday, Dec. 5 on the 3 most common lies women believe that keep them stuck, afraid and miserable.  If you’d like to attend, sign up here.

 

Today's Question: I am tired of everyone attaching the word narcissist to everyone else. That being said, I question if I am. My future daughter-in-law thinks I am. She is in the mental health field. She showed me the definition, and it looked pretty accurate. Here are the things that suggest I may be: For the most part, I don't generally like people. I am rarely compassionate or empathetic. I make conversations all about me. Here are the things that suggest I am not: I don't think I minimize or deny, and I definitely don't lie or gaslight.

I am sure I am selfish in many ways, but I don't know if I could say I am extremely selfish. I get the mail and paper for my elderly neighbor, and generally just look out for her I do more than my share at church; coordinating children's church and teaching twice in a cycle (everyone else does once), managing the AWANA store, buying and doing things as an outreach to mission work in Africa.

I have regular gatherings for my large family (7 grown kids, 12 grandchildren). I recently began a Christian music and movement business/ministry. I have gone over and above to minister to the kids. I pray for missionaries and persecuted Christians, marriages, leaders…I'm confused as to how I can, in some ways be so polar?

Answer: I agree with you that the term “narcissistic” is all over the place in today’s culture. I’ve been in this field for a long time and I’ve seen certain mental health diagnosis’s become more “popular” than others. A while back it was Dissociative Identity Disorder, where individuals were sometimes mislabeled as DID or the old label “multiple personalities.” Then Bi-Polar was a common label as was Borderline Personality Disorder. The diagnosis of Asperger’s became popular for a while although it is no longer a mental health diagnosis and people are now talking a lot about narcissism. Labels can be helpful. They are a shortcut so that we all are on the same page. But they can also be harmful to those being mislabeled so let’s dig a bit deeper.

Everyone has some traits of narcissism as I’ve said in an earlier blog, How Do I Live With A Narcissist? However, you’ve described recognizing yourself as having three traits that do fit the diagnosis (You need five of the nine defined traits to qualify for a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder). One is your lack of empathy or compassion for others, your desire for attention in conversation, as well as selfishness.

However, in your question, you said something that perplexed me. You admitted you generally don’t like people, but then you went on to describe lots of nice things you do in ministry, many involving working with people. So why are you doing these particular ministry things if you don’t like people and don’t generally have much compassion? I would have thought a better fit for you would be doing something with numbers or helping do some paperwork or other volunteer work that doesn’t involve working with people.

It’s important to note that Narcissistic individuals can do wonderful things for people. Many narcissists are doctors, community leaders, and pastors. However, their inner motivation for helping people is what feeds their narcissism. It makes them feel special and important, even god-like for some. That doesn’t negate the good that they do, but God is the one who sees the heart and service towards others is done for their own glory, not God’s.  

So here are two things I want you to think about. One is that your future daughter thinks you are narcissistic and has even shown you the criteria for that diagnosis. What’s up with that? It feels bold to me that someone who is marrying your son would confront you with such a strong label. Have the two of you had a pattern of conflict? Are there ways you have been uncaring or hurtful towards her? And what’s going on with her that she thinks it’s her responsibility to bring this matter to your attention right now? I imagine that there is a whole backstory to this that you have not shared, but might help clarify things a bit.

Second, where are you before God as you reflect upon your own admitted lack of compassion and selfishness? You mention all your service to God and his people, but Jesus confronts the religious leaders by saying “you're hearts are far from me.” As a Christ follower, our hearts are to be transformed from a self-centered and other-centered heart to a God-centered heart (Ezekiel 36:26). Does it cause you any pause in your own spirit when you see your own lack of love for others (Psalm 51:6, 17 or Matthew 15:8)? Is this something that causes you grief and does it move you to a deeper repentance before God?  

Paul encourages us all to be imitators of God and live a life of love (Ephesians 5:1). What would that look like for you, not on the outside in more acts of service, but in a true change of heart?  

I wouldn’t worry as much about the label, but if I were you, I would give a greater thought about your character development as a woman of God. Are you growing more tenderhearted? More caring? More compassionate and empathetic? More interested in listening to others than dominating conversations. Is the Holy Spirit teaching you his ways, even if they aren’t naturally your ways?

I love the fact that you took time to reflect upon what your daughter-in-law said, but I wonder in your reflection if you are simply weighing your good deeds against your weaknesses and believing that your good deeds are enough to outweigh your deficits.  

Please don’t misunderstand me.

We ALL have deficits. We all fall short of who God calls us to be. But that’s exactly the good news of the Gospel. We are not only forgiven, but we are restored. Click to Tweet

Meaning, that God doesn’t just cancel our debt but he wants to transform our heart into a heart like His.  

Therefore, friend, I would encourage you to use this “label” to look primarily at your lack of love for people. Ask God to give you his heart and his mind. It’s true, love translates into action and good deeds but with his heart, we do it for His glory not our own.  

Friend, when you hear negative feedback about yourself and reflect that some of it might be true, what steps do you take to repent and change?

48 Comments

  1. JoAnn on November 29, 2017 at 11:11 am

    This is a great topic, and much needed in the Christian community. We are called to live Christ….not just be a good person, but like you said, have His heart. When I am made aware of a shortcoming or offense, I go to the Lord, confess, repent, and then RECEIVE…both His forgiveness and His life to come in to replace that aspect of my personality that was exposed. Only Christ in me can manifest His perfect love and compassion. My own efforts will inevitably fall short. After confession and repentance, sometimes there is also the need to renounce…renounce the aspect of me that caused the offense (like selfishness), or in particular, when it was a sinful behavior, to “disown it” by renouncing it. God is calling us upward, to be Christ-like, not by our own efforts, but by partaking daily of His divine life and nature. (2 Peter 1:4)

    • Aly on November 29, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      JoAnn,

      I think this is also a great topic!
      I think your answer JoAnn is what I would hope I would be able to manifest that kind of response. I recently heard feedback from my husband about my impact on my children over a painful issue, it was painful but it was accurate and I want to be quick to consider someone else’s point of reference as just as valuable as when I bring things to the table. I immediately needed to make it right and take ownership for my choices and my impact.

      I think it’s critical that when our identity is anchored in God’s love and acceptence we can receive uncomfortable feedback and weigh it accordingly. When we know we are loved for ‘who we are’, and not what we do (or don’t do)… we can be invited into a process of ongoing change and growth to reflect more and more the image of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

      Referencing the letter writer, I feel I have so many questions to better understand. 😥

      I’m thankful for her honesty and her willingness to not discredit her Daughter-in -laws thoughts.
      I wonder if she would consider her daughter-in-law’s experience even if she wasn’t in the mental health field?

      I wonder if the writer can see the discrepancy of how difficult it would be to claim to be a Christ believer/ follower and also have a dislike ‘for people’?

      God made people in His image out of Love, glory and purpose.

      I wonder if that statement is really accurate about ‘not liking people’? I wonder if the writer does not like the messiness or the brokenness of people rather than people themselves?

      I have heard this statement ‘I don’t like people, or I don’t like women, or I love my husband but I don’t like him’, before in Women’s ministry and other circles and I think it shines light to a heart that is a serious heart issue needing attention.
      Our internal self talk is critical to our growth as Christians.

      my husband used to often say he didn’t ‘like me’, kinda like a way to self soothe.
      God was gracious to unpack this and allow him the time to see that it wasn’t about ‘not liking individuals or me inparticular, but what those ‘thoughts of dislike’ reveal about what my husband was running from, himself & past injuries by people in general.

      With willingness for maturity and receiving of Christ’s love, we can choose to love authentically even from a broken place on this side of heaven because of who lives within.✝️

  2. Aleea on November 29, 2017 at 11:41 am

    “Friend, when you hear negative feedback about yourself and reflect that some of it might be true, what steps do you take to repent and change?”

    The blog today has so, so many beautiful points and excellent content. I like Leslie’s thoughts about character development. That is, are we growing more tenderhearted, caring, compassionate, empathetic, etc. I especially like the comment “. . .[being] More interested in listening to others than dominating conversations. Is the Holy Spirit teaching you his ways, even if they aren’t naturally your ways?”

    I struggle not with listening, but with *deeply* listening. I listen, but often only to respond. Maybe because I know what happens when I deeply, carefully, prayerfully, listen —it often changes me (—painfully). . . .I think the reason for that is the fact that the pure and simple Truth is never that pure —or that simple. Pure Evil comes out of believing we don’t have massive blind spots in our knowledge and understanding. —All of us, especially me.

    If after lots of prayer and asking wise others, I feel something needs to change, I work with God to repent and change. But sometimes even my repentance needs to be repented of. I also like what is said here: “Paul encourages us all to be imitators of God and live a life of love (Ephesians 5:1). What would that look like for you, not on the outside in more acts of service, but in a true change of heart?”

    Re: a true change of heart
    . . .metanoia, after the transformational experience talked about all across the New Testament. . . .It is hard because it is a death ✞—rebirth sequence that is usually very painful. Everyone whats to be changed but no one wants to burst into flames and have the deadwood burnt off. I also think that [metanoia] happens and keeps happening in the Christian life. What I am always *trying* to do is more fully identify with the part of my personality that can change (the Holy Spirit), the part that is not static, not locked down by all my fears. I am in need of constant revival. . . . For me, it is a healing journey as I work to overcome childhood abuse, religious abuse, etc.

    But always, the hardest thing for me to face in life is the truth about myself, even the good things. “God doesn’t just cancel our debt but he wants to transform our heart into a heart like His.” —That’s so beautiful. —I want a heart like that. . . .How do we *transform* to crazy, joyful, saying yes to life, projecting positivity all around us, active, not reactive believing? Not just avoiding “sin” or talking or teaching or believing the “right” Biblical notions or principles or rules. . . . But joyful, *wild* freedom in Christ —how? —I always pray to be constantly transformed: Lord change me into what You need me to be and *keep* changing me, —please❣

    . . . I walk into the mystery of life in Christ. I can not define that mystery no matter how I try. . . .but oh, how I try. It is entirely too deep. My goal is always God Himself. Not joy, not peace, not even blessing, but Him❣ツ . . .How can I meet Jesus again for the first time, all the time, so to speak. . . .What is the path of transition and transformation to that ever deeper “new” ways of being in Him/ like Him? —Or more simply how do we incarnate? . . . Getting to the place where we don’t need to hide from ourselves, pretending that we are not unhappy, not broken, and not fearful of various things. We can face up to these things and learn to live with them and say yes to life in Christ. Beyond the naïveté of believing we can be fulfilled by idols (—money, men, moms, etc.) and beyond the despair is a Resurrection road. . . .Where I have changed it took place inside/within my unknowing and dissatisfaction. . . where God is not approached as an object, but as a mystery present in the very act of deep, kind meaningful love towards others and ourselves (—actions, not just beliefs). In Christ, in concrete terms, that means that the darkness and dissatisfaction that make their presence felt in our lives are not finally answered by certainty and satisfaction but are rather stripped of their weight and robbed of their sting by deeply loving and caring for ourselves and others. . . .From the limited amount I know about it, the brain circuits that motivate immediate action are genetically very ancient, and very, very fast, with regards to response. That does not work in our advantage. I take lots of prayer time-outs and use lots of prayerful reflection and always ask God to help me *permanately* re-wired things, if that is possible. The circuitry that underlies almost all of the positive emotion that any of us are likely to experience in our lives will not be a consequence of attaining things. Amazingly, it will be a consequence of seeing that things are working as we proceed towards the goal we value (—being Christ-like).

  3. Mary Ann on November 29, 2017 at 11:44 am

    My heart hurts for this lady. I have the same aspects of my personality as she when it comes to people. Because I was unaware of boundaries for most of my life, I allowed people to hurt and damage me beyond human repair. It has and is taking me a very, very, very long time to overcome this damage.

    God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have worked with me to restore me to what they originally intended for me to be, but I have a long, long way to go. I am quite wary of people as it would seem this woman is. They open old wounds in me that I have been trying to heal for a long time.

    I hope you do not feel condemned by the well-meaning encouragement to look deeper at yourself. I hope that my words here help you to realize that you are not alone and that others struggle with the same things.

    I know we try and try to serve Christ through ministries that directly help people, even though they are our shortcomings. This takes much courage and we usually do this because of our deep love for Christ – we try hard to crucify our flesh in the matters. But I for one cannot sustain it. It must mean that as I said above, there is so much more work to be done with the Holy Spirit. The line between condemnation and conviction is very thin. You are a good person and God loves you in spite of your inabilities. As long as you are striving to overcome, God honors that. Much love and understanding! Sincerely, Mary Ann

  4. Mary Ann on November 29, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    I also think that God made people with different capacities. I have learned that the more grace I give myself, the more pressure I take off myself to be like other people and then the more I can love others.

    Not “liking people” is a result of giving above and beyond our God-given capabilities and being taken advantage of each step of the way. It has nothing whatsoever to do with a false “claim to be a Christ believer/ follower”.

    Usually people get to this point because they aren’t good to themselves, but love Christ so deeply and want to show love to others that they literally burn out.This is the thing that needs work not putting doubts and questions in another’s mind about their faith in Christ. I don’t think that is helpful.

    More often than not the people like the questioner and myself are guilty of loving too much.

    Sorry but I am struggling not to feel condemned by some of these well-meaning comments because I work HARD on these issues with the Jesus every single day.

    • Nancy on November 29, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      HI Mary Ann,

      I can relate to so much of what you have said here.

      In particular about Boundaries and a complete inability to even know where to begin setting them. When we give out of a heart that is not guarded, the love leaks out and we end up giving out of a deficit. Not what our Lord intended. At. All.

      In learning to Love others, AS MYSELF, I am now beginning to see that ‘loving too much’ is actually impossible. If I am ‘loving’ others from a place of deficit, then that’s the wrong term- it’s not love at all. There’s something going on in the moment where my ‘output’ of giving, overtakes the ‘input’ that I am able to receive from Jesus. For me, ‘giving’ from this place of deficit has more to do with operating in the familiar territory of upside down boundaries, as opposed to loving.

      Anyways, just thinking out loud, here. I just want you to know that you are not alone in this battle to have boundaries in the right place ( have you read Cloud and Townsend’s Boundaries?).

      Just yesterday I got a word from The Lord ( through a sister in Christ) who told me that even though the Bible Study that I was at, was my safe place, I still had to guard my heart. I realized in that moment that I am always looking for a safe place where I can ‘let my guard down’. Maybe I’m also always on the lookout for someone who will guard my heart for me. But this is my job. The guarding of my heart is my responsibility ( Prov 4:23). This realization brings the grief of a childhood where I was not allowed boundaries and in fact, had them consistently torn down. I am a grown woman on the hunt for a mother figure who will take on the responsibility of my heart. My job is to grieve, and keep on guarding my heart- even in the safest places and with the safest people.

      I hope this doesn’t come across as preaching. These are my struggles and where The Lord is taking me, through them.

      • Mary Ann on November 29, 2017 at 2:50 pm

        Nancy, thank you for your response. Not only have I read Boundaries but I attended the group sessions at church as long as they were offered. They no longer are. I read Dr. Cloud’s Facebook posts and subscrbe to his email blasts. This is a conscious and ongoing issue for me. I have l made great strides in the boundaries area, especially of late. All glory to God! But I am truly tired of feeling bad or guilty if I cannot be the “people person” that others are and it seems that other people expect me to be. I am kind and loving to many, many people within the parameters of my capabilities.

        • Aly on November 29, 2017 at 3:25 pm

          Mary Ann, Nancy;)

          Hope it’s ok to ask this and you don’t have to answer Mary Ann.
          I’m glad that you have enjoyed Cloud and Townsends books and material, they are some books and help that have been so beneficial to my heart.
          I especially like Safe People.

          I wonder if you are describing being more of an introvert versus an extrovert?
          People who tend to be more introverted are ‘superiorly drained around others’ and extroverts are more energized.

          You mentioned ‘people person’ so that’s why I commented.

          Nancy, I also can relate so much to what you wrote💜
          So helpful and safe people are hard to find.
          But it’s true we are injured in relationships and also restored in relationships ‘the right kinds’ 🤓

        • JoAnn on November 29, 2017 at 4:31 pm

          Mary Ann, operating within the parameters or your capabilities is all that the Lord requires of you/us. He does not need our human effort, but what He wants is that we function according to His life within us; then it is “not I but Christ” that ministers to others. Our own efforts wear out pretty quickly, so we truly do need to function out of the supply of grace that He gives. When we go beyond His life within, then it is our natural self that is operating, and does not glorify God. I have noticed that as I grow older (70 now) I am more limited in what I can do, but my function is shifting as I pray more and spend more time in fellowship with others, which doesn’t require much physical effort. Still, not I but Christ.

          • Nancy on November 29, 2017 at 7:36 pm

            JoAnn, This is a beautiful description of what boundaries are!

            I’m going to write it down. So. Lovely. ❤️



          • JoAnn on November 30, 2017 at 7:56 pm

            Thanks, Nancy. It’s what I try to live by.



    • Aly on November 29, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      Mary Ann,

      I’m wondering if there is a failure on my part to explain my comments and thoughts. I’ll try to better articulate.

      A part of my post & section of my original comment was;
      “I wonder if the writer can see the discrepancy of how difficult it would be to claim to be a Christ believer/follower and also have a dislike ‘for people’?”

      You wrote;
      “Not “liking people” is a result of giving above and beyond our God-given capabilities and being taken advantage of each step of the way. It has nothing whatsoever to do with a false “claim to be a Christ believer/ follower”.

      I wasn’t saying it was a false claim, but pointing out the difficulty and the incongruency in the overall statement as trying to live a Christ-like example.

      Also I believe that to have a symptom of a heart issue is not a result of unbelief. We all have heart issues in different places and God is there to guide us. It’s not one or the other it’s a process.

      Also I think there are ‘many reasons’ for the result or attitude of ‘not liking people’. Yours is a personal experience and I’m sorry that you were taken advantage of as you mentioned. Someone else may have a different experience of pain and how they respond.

      • Leslie Vernick on November 29, 2017 at 4:05 pm

        I think there can be many reasons we “don’t like people”. We’ve been hurt, we’ve been offended, we’re angry, we have a hard heart, we don’t trust because we’ve been burned, or we just don’t like to give ourselves to help, care, or give to meet the needs of other people, hence we don’t like people.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 29, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      Please don’t allow yourself to feel condemned. There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Even if we become aware of deficits in our character, there is no condemnation. I certainly have plenty that God is showing me. Just like when you look in the mirror and see things that you don’t like about your appearance, you don’t condemn yourself, you simply fix what you can right?

  5. Ann on November 29, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    There is a close tie I believe between people seeing narcissism and people seeing self confidence. For people with low self worth or those who tend toward co-dependence when they see someone who is confident and independent they can’t grasp that way of being and need a label to understand it… right now in society that is narcissism. It is highly misunderstood and people jump right to worst case scenarios as they try to fit people into that label box.

    The truth really is that all of us have some level of narcissism in us… you may say that you ‘don’t like or care for people’ or you can say that you healthy enough that you don’t rely on other people for your own self-worth hence what they think of you isn’t a motivation for your actions toward them. Some people can’t get that. You can say that you make conversations all about you… or you can recognize that your speaking and conversation skills aren’t really strong characteristics so you revert to talking about yourself and your actions in your insecurity. If it’s troubling to you you could take a public speaking class or conversation class… or just come up with a list of questions you can ask others and then practice listening… it doesn’t mean you need a clinical diagnosis from a non-doctor family member.

    Really diagnosable narcissists will never admit that anything they do is wrong so you already have that going for you. If you are worried about certain behaviors that have been pointed out to you then work to change those parts of you you are uncomfortable with – but don’t do it for anyone other than yourself.

    And I have to side eye this soon to be daughter in law… you don’t mention the relationship you have with her but I know very few people with their own level of reasonable empathy and social grace or maturity who would outright tell you a list of your faults like that and drop a negative label on your head – I assume to your face. He motivations are incredibly suspect so I’d take anything she says with a grain of salt.

    • JoAnn on November 30, 2017 at 8:46 am

      Very well said, Ann. I agree with everything you said. More information about what kind of relationship already exists between the DIL and MIL would be helpful, but I agree that for this young woman to say such things shows immaturity on her part, especially in the way she handles her “credentials.”

  6. Sky on November 29, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    It seems to me that the MIL here might remember that this also may be a very young DIL who is not sure how to build a relationship with her in laws or isn’t particularly interested in doing so; she obviously sees the differences between her family of origin and that of her in-laws and in her insecurity and immaturity (I don’t mean this as a negative exactly…just an adjective that describes lack of experience or wisdom in building relationships) has said things that come across as far too critical or too know-it-all.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 29, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      I’m sure the future DIL has a lot of her own maturity to do, and it took courage for this woman (her future MIL) who wrote me this question to even give thoughtful consideration to the feedback she received.

  7. Connie on November 29, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    I have seen that actual narcissists tend to label normal people as narcissists, or throw other accusations at them to distract from their own issues. For example, a spouse who gives the silent treatment will accuse their spouse of giving the silent treatment when in actuality she is setting boundaries, which is a very different thing. I’m not saying that is what is happening in this case, just that it is a possibility.

    I agree that the fact that the MIL is reaching out for advice is a sign in her favour. True narcissists don’t want advice……or they pretend they do. It’s a confusing thing, that.

  8. Barbara L on November 29, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Rebukes are always hard, so I’ve learned to take some recovery time just to calm down before I try to determine the validity of the confrontation. I remind myself that my sin or mistake is not the end of the world and the Holy Spirit will help me repent, confess, and make reparation. Proverbs 16:6a – “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for.” Then, with a perspective of grace, I have courage to ask God to help me see whether I am in the wrong. Hopefully, in the meantime I have not done something foolish such as argue or counterattack or have a meltdown. For me, it’s much better to go somewhere quiet and alone so I can think.
    Sometimes it helps to ask the perspective of other people rather than just have one opinion. I think in a situation such as this MIL is facing I would definitely seek input from peers. I also think that a question of narcissism should be handled in a therapeutic relationship with a counselor. I’m trying to imagine a scenario where it would be appropriate for a future DIL to address a (possible) narcissist situation in the way this DIL did and, for many reasons, it just does not seem like a good idea.
    It’s always important to have an accurate diagnosis so I hope this dear lady, the original writer, can find a good counselor to help her sort through the questions that have arisen from the DIL’s confrontation. I can’t help but wonder if the counselor would actually end up helping the MIL see what a great person she is, that she actually does like people (look at all the kind things she does to help people). Also, maybe she doesn’t “always” turn the conversation to herself, but maybe she does occasionally have an opinion about her preferences in the upcoming wedding.

  9. Nancy on November 29, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    I hear what you are saying about deeply listening, Aleea. I’ve recently been convicted of ‘listening…but with a motive’. My motive was to make the person I’m listening to, more like me. So, I’d listen for similarities , for example. Boy was this a hard pill to swallow because that’s not loving at all!

    At least now I’m aware of this tendency and my listening is more ‘curiosity oriented’. Just being curious about a person. Just wanting to know who I’m listening to. God is so good to have convicted me of this, in doing so, He freed me and my loved ones ❤️

    • Aleea on November 30, 2017 at 5:17 am

      “My motive was to make the person I’m listening to, more like me.” —Me too Nancy, me too and it is not loving. —Telling the Truth, in love and humility, even when it deconstructs things, is divine. Don’t underestimate the power of Truth, there’s nothing more powerful —and lonely. In order to speak what you might regard as the Truth you have to let go of the outcomes —not easy. —Speaking the Truth puts our lives back in God’s hands, because we are not outcome engineering, peace faking, pretending. . . .If instead, we try to articulate what we believe to be true as carefully and as accurately as possible. . . . accepting the outcomes (—never, ever easy), . . . .The Truth, even if it calls things into question, the Truth as lived and spoken, produces the best possible outcomes long-term. Evil comes out of believing we don’t have massive blind spots in our knowledge and understanding and relationship with God and it is the most insidious kind. It’s Evil that seems to have good intentions on the surface but is just pride in disguise. The pure and simple Truth is never that pure or that simple. . . . .

      “Boy was this a hard pill to swallow because that’s not loving at all!” —Me too Nancy and, again, it is not loving. ―And, that’s because I don’t always tell the truth as clearly as I know how, even though I really try. ―Why? I don’t want all that blow-back. —I want people to like me and be my friend, ―especially in person, at church and I know it. . . . .To tell the truth does not mean I claim that I am correct. It only is to claim that I am going to try to communicate the way things look to me as clearly as possible, not holding back, not walking on eggshells, and with an attitude that I’m always open to serious correction. . . . .The Truth in Love, . . .The Truth in Love and Grace, even if it brings everything down around me (—I hate that part). The Truth is the way to meaning and it seems to me that meaning is the antidote to suffering. If meaning is pursued properly, fact-based and truthfully, then maybe we do not get corrupted by our suffering, and that actually diminishes the net total of suffering. A lot of us have tried to avoid hell by not facing it, but the path to paradise is straight through hell… and if we don’t go there voluntarily, we will go there by accident. Look at these marriages where people wait 10, 15, 20, 25 years until they are in total hell to actually start telling the Truth.

      “Just being curious about a person. Just wanting to know who I’m listening to. God is so good to have convicted me of this, in doing so, He freed me and my loved ones” —I’m generally ‘curiosity oriented’ ―And to me, it is so, so meaningful talking with people here, ―from this blog. The people here are *amazing* to me. . . .just amazing. . . .There are things w-a-y more important than knowledge. . . .Honestly, what good is what is objectively, demonstrably true if it leads to nihilism and loss of personal responsibility? “Truth” serves Life. . . .Christianity: Truer than True. ―And I try hard to pay attention because there is always somebody who doesn’t agree with me telling me something I couldn’t have ever figured out on my own! It’s a completely different way of looking at the world. It’s the antithesis of opinionated! . . .speak/ live the Truth even if our voices and hands shake❣

      . . . So, what your saying seems right on to me, be way more ‘curiosity oriented’ ☑ . . .Absolutely!!! —Explore, ask questions, fact check *primary* source evidence, et.al. . . .❦❧ . . .So, in the spirit of ‘curiosity oriented’, how does Nancy say we *transform* to crazy, joyful, saying yes to life, projecting positivity all around us, active, not reactive believing? Not just avoiding “sin” or talking or teaching or believing the “right” Biblical notions or principles or rules. . . . But again, joyful, *wild* freedom in Christ —how??? I want to know what you would say —but only if you want to write it✍. I don’t want you to share anything you are uncomfortable with❣ Aleeaツ✝⌛❄☃
      ↪✈

  10. Mary Ann on November 30, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Thank you all for your kind insights! Joann, I am especially appreciative of your comments. I am 69. 70 in July. So your comments especially speak to me. For me, it is still more emotional issues that drain and then sap the physical.

    Aly, I think I may be more of an introvert now because I now see that readily see that I can only deal with so much in terms of interaction with others “neediness”.

    I attribute any any all success that I have had to the grace of God. I do try to help others as much as I can giving as much information and guidance as possible. Also, pointing them to Christ as their Savior not me. 95% of the people will take this information and guidance and rebuild their lives. 5% however will try to literally suck the life out of me, constantly calling or needing more instead of turning to the true Savor – Jesus Christ to help them rebuild their lives. This was very evident in the 4 years I facilitated DivorceCare which is where I found Leslie to begin with.

    We do people a great disservice when we allow them to continue to come to us instead of Christ as Savior. Too much helping = hurting. Every one needs to do their own work with Christ to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembing.”

    One last thing that I realized when my personality kind of goes south and may be helpful for the lady with this question is this: Lack of compassion, and empathy, ungratefulness and a sense of entitlement all stem from pride.

    If one thinks that they themselves got through all the tough times in their life in their own power, then these attitudes manifest themselves in their attitudes toward others. When they stop and realize that it was God who got them through, their compassion and empathy for others returns.

    We are complex creatures. Many things. I know that in social situations where many people are involved, leadership is needed or public speaking required, I can be very much the extravert. But one-on-one, I can only go so far without draining myself. The more time I can spend one-on-one with Christ, the more I can work with people through His strength, His grace, His compassion and His love. If too much comes at me at one time, then my fellowship with Him gets compromised and I cannot refill my well.

    • Aly on November 30, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      Mary Ann,

      Thanks for responding and looking at the possibility of capacity and growth.

      You wrote some important things and expressed some areas you get drained.

      I have some sad and painful things to share with you from maybe a different perspective.
      My mom is close to your age and her introverted-ness was selective. She could also do extroverted things and enjoyed them. She has great energy for things that are pretty surface oriented.
      The introverted places were the ‘one on one places’ where women or (mother and daughter) can have space and time for emotional intimacy and care. These places she ran from and rejected. I’m sure they drained her. But she had no interest in building that muscle or learning about emotional and truly spiritual intimacy especially with those she loves.

      You wrote;
      “We do people a great disservice when we allow them to continue to come to us instead of Christ as Savior. Too much helping = hurting. Every one needs to do their own work with Christ to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembing.”

      I have heard this a lot in Christian women circles.
      While I agree we are to absolutely work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, I don’t believe this verse exactly gives the content of what this discussion is about.

      We are called to help carry the burdens (NOT someone’s own load) but carry burdens that are too heavy for any individual to handle.
      This is an act of love, care, compassion & empathy when someone needs our time or our support in whatever they are facing.
      I can’t imagine a world without people (like Jesus- with human skin) walking alongside some painful realities of this broken world.

      I believe TIME is our greatest commodity and I hope that I can use the time God has given me to manage …to offer the best I can to Christ’s kingdom.

      While my mom thinks she has a personality ~ it’s an ‘injury’ and sadly she’s missing out on some amazing places of ‘authentic’ relationships and yes working through the sanctification process that we are invited into.💜

  11. Sarah on November 30, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Whenever anyone makes a comment about my behavior, I always ask them to give me a concrete, particular example to discuss.

    Oftentimes, abusive people like label their targets as a way to undermine the target.

  12. JoAnn on November 30, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    I believe that the “in love” part of speaking the truth sometimes means not speaking at all. Sometimes we can know the “truth” about something, but we need to be sensitive to the other person: is this going to minister life to that person, or will it be hurtful? Jesus Himself spoke truth in so many different ways, depending on who He was speaking to. Checking inwardly with the Lord:”Lord, do you want me to say this?” Or, “What do You want me to say here?” That way, we can be His voice in any situation.

    • Aleea on November 30, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      “Lord, do you want me to say this?” Or, “What do You want me to say here?” That way, we can be His voice in any situation.” —JoAnn, thank you. I appreciate you and that you would take the time to comment, —thank you.

      . . . .I hold back so, so much . . .and I so wish more people would have told me way more of what they really knew along the way . . . . .but maybe, maybe there is deep wisdom in what you say. God wants me to work on me and God created me to trust Him and love others, not lecture them or tell them things I think I know. When I am not trusting or not loving, I am disconnected from my purpose (re: the “in love” part of speaking the truth sometimes means not speaking at all), and my hopelessness thrives. To look to Christ to meet my perceived psychological needs is to Christianize my idols. We are asking God to give us what we want, so we can feel better about ourselves or so we can have more happiness, not holiness, in our lives. . . .I assume that people are most similar to God when He is the object of their affection. Let’s assume that brings most glory to Him. Let’s just assume that. . . .that people should delight in God, as He does in Himself (—I don’t fully, not fully understand that but let’s just assume it is true). . . . .So, when I have all kinds of feelings of emptiness, I assume it is a sign that I have put my trust in something that can’t sustain me. I’m to trust in my heavenly Father 💗 ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ 💗 💖💜 💟. . . and absolutely nothing else, —right? How is that practically possible? If I am to enjoy the many things God gives me, how do I not integrate them? I naturally start relying on them: my family, my house, my black Bombay kitten, my car. . . .I can’t deny that I rely on them, otherwise it seems double talk. . . . .JoAnn I just don’t understand that part. I agree I spend too much time wondering what others may have thought about my outfit or the comments I made in the small group meetings I attend but isn’t that normative behavior? . . .Not always, but sometimes I see opportunities to testify about Christ, and I just avoid them. Sometimes I am more concerned about looking stupid (a fear of people) than about acting sinfully (fear of the Lord). That is, I am more concerned about being afraid of someone, I hold people in awe, putting my trust in people, needing people. I just don’t understand why. . . .

      . . .How can I see Christ❣😊 💕✝ as so glorious that I forget about my perceived needs? —Is that sustainably possible? Is that a trick of the mind, wish fulfilment? How do I let God control me, actually control me so I know it is He *actually* controlling me? —How do I learn the fear of the Lord, in the right way? How can I be overwhelmed with His majesty and the fear of Him so much that I don’t focus on people anymore? —That is temporarily possible, which I have felt before, but is it long-term and more fully sustainable. —Is that possible? 🌷 🌹 🌺 🌻 🌼

    • Aleea on December 1, 2017 at 7:01 am

      Thank you JoAnn, I appreciate that *so much*. . . .

      “Aleea, be careful not to be too introspective.”

      . . . .do you mean inward-looking??? . . .JoAnn, you would not even *believe* how emotional I am, as a person. —I really have to work so, so hard at being rational, analytical, logical, careful, etc. —That’s not who I am. . . .but I realized that if I wanted to grow and learn I had to enagage in serious critical thinking. Maybe that is wrong, I don’t know. But here is what I am thinking:

      JoAnn, Christ lives inside us, inside us, inward-looking??? I’m not sure but I assume when we look *outside*, we stay in a dream-like state, when we look inside (in my heart —Christ’s home❣✞†✝), when we look inside, we awaken. —I have always assumed that. —Is that worng? I don’t know. . . .I just don’t know.

      . . .JoAnn people don’t see the world as it is but as they are. Maybe no one can know the absolute truth because our reasoning is just w-a-y too motivated? We think we want the Truth but the Truth is one hard road which often has very narrow paths, but the narrow paths force us to leave the encumbrances behind. . . .The narrow paths force us to leave the encumbrances behind. . . .because we have to let go of what we are carrying to squeeze through rocks on a path that tight. . . . .Psalm 84:5-7 . . .There is a way that leads to life. . . .The few that find it never die.

      “That will take you to a dark place.” . . . .I think I know that place but it is not dark so much as it is just barren. . . .JoAnn, I think God is so merciful to only allow us to correlate the contents of our brains (trauma memories) but only so far. I call truth and reality the desert of the REAL. —That holy desolation where only the Truth survives, out past all the epistemology of Christian propaganda about what life is like. That place where everything *not real* is washed away by the solar storm of Truth. —And raw TRUTH, oh my, it is not very appealing because unlike the church, it has no marketing plans, it is not outcome engineering or trying to “increase faith”.

      “But as I’ve said again and again, as painful as truth and reality are sometimes, healthy people live in truth and reality and not in fantasy” ―Leslie Vernick

      “. . .Colossians 1:11-14. He, Himself is our “allotted portion.” Our circumstances are not our portion; they simply help us to open to Him and partake of His life and nature in the midst of our situation. (2 Peter 1:4). . .”

      JoAnn, I don’t really understand this “allotted portion” but I’ll pray more about that. What I see in those scriptures is walk by faith, not by sight ―strengthened by His glorious might (plus: 2 Corinthians 6:9, Romans 5:1-5, Haakkuk 2:3-4, Galatians 5:16-24, Hebrews 6:11-12).

      The way I see it, and maybe this is wrong, but. . . . . .it is this: I (Aleea) don’t want to be what I am, I want to be *what continually changes what I am* (Romans 8:26-27; John 14:26; Acts 1:8; Romans 5:5; Acts 2:38) . . . .Because, JoAnn, it seems to me that the things we most need are always to be found where we least want to look (―that dark place ― the desert of the REAL). . . . To learn is to die *voluntarily* and be born again, in great ways and small. . . . .I know, I know. . . . . Μερικές φορές δεν έχει νόημα, δεν έχει καθόλου νόημα, καθόλου (Sometimes it makes no sense, makes no sense at all, . . . .at all). . . . So we all stumble forward to the Kingdom of God: Don’t sacrifice who you could be for who you are! For Aleea that means: speaking the truth even if it deconstructs things and takes me to the the desert of the REAL. . . .but maybe that is wrong, I don’t know. It just seems to me that the things we most need are always to be found where we least want to look (―that dark place ―the desert of the REAL).

      “I can’t, Lord, but You can.” That’s a good place to be. So, what makes God happy, and us, too, is to say, “Lord, I just want more of You.” . . . .YES!!! ―I most certainly can’t, ―I *know* I can’t. Lord, I just want more of You❣✞†✝. . . . .Absolutely, Y-E-S!!! I want God, not ideas about God. . . .Is it possible that we tend to hold to ideas about God that reflect our own suppositions and fears, more than the real God (I call the *real* God, the God above God. . . .because the God I most see in church, et.al. seems more like an idol of satisfaction and certainty) ―I want His-revelation. Just like Zaccheus I’m trying to see (John 12:32, 3:14, Luke 19:2-4). . . . .We reduce God to our own dimensions, ascribing to Him our own reactions and responses, especially our own petty and conditional kind of love, and so end up believing in a God cast in our own image and likeness? ―But, I don’t know. . . .I just want God, ―not ideas about God.

      Thank you JoAnn❣

      I always think, cease striving, then there will be transformation. ☑ . . .—Absolutely, Lord help me too! To be a servant of Jesus. . . .He means *more* than the world to me. ―Please pray for me, if you have time. . . . .I just want God, ―not my ideas about God. —Lord, let us awake *forever* in the likeness of You (Psalm 17:15) ❄☃❅✺

    • Aleea on December 1, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      Hello Aly,

      Thank you for your comments Aly, very helpful. I appreciate them and you. 🌷 🌹 🌺 🌻 🌼 🎆

      “Fearing God the right way, I believe means seeking after Him with all I have of Christ’s love and perseverance within me. Also, I think it’s important to note that He gave us the place of importance to help us along and align our relationship with Him first and others second. . . .” . . . .I fail with that at times, —not putting Him first but I understand how important that is to do. In all things, I really strive to put God first. . . . .I am with God from the moment I wake up, to the moment I fall asleep at night, I am with God wherever on this earth 🌏 that I have to go for work, and whosoever I may be with! I may be sitting on a plane 🐱❤✈, subway, etc. but I am with God. —I can assure you that.

      “. . . .after all he is a God of Structure;) and order…look at our solar system.” —I sorry Aly, you wrote me a wonderful note and I just hate negative stuff like this . . . .but this is just true and needs to be said: Our universe is an unbelievably chaotic place. —99.99999 percent composed of lethal radiation-filled vacuum, and 99.99999 percent of all the material in the universe comprises killer black holes, massive exploding stars in which nothing can ever live, and 99.99999 percent of all other material in the universe (—all planets, moons, clouds, asteroids) is barren of life and outright inhospitable to life. In other words, the universe we observe is *extraordinarily* inhospitable to life. Even what tiny inconsequential bits of it are at all hospitable are extremely inefficient at producing life—at all. A universe designed for life would easily, readily, and abundantly produce and sustain life. Most of the contents of that universe would be conducive to life or benefit life. Yet that’s not what we see. Instead, almost the entire universe is lethal to life—in fact, if we put all the lethal vacuum of outer space swamped with deadly radiation into an area the size of a house, you would never find the comparably microscopic speck of area that sustains life (—it would literally be smaller than a single proton). It’s exceedingly difficult to imagine a universe *less* conducive to life than that—indeed, that’s about as close as it gets to something completely incapable of producing life as it gets. . . . .Okay, I said it.🌏☠☣ —Speaking the Truth puts our lives back in God’s hands, because we are not outcome engineering, peace faking, pretending. . . .It is an act of Faith. 🙏✔ The Truth, as lived and spoken, produces the best possible outcomes long-term 🙏❣

      “We are designed to Love God and love others. That’s His design and if we were not designed to Love ‘others’, than why not give us our own planet to work these trials out? I’m being a bit light hearted here, hope that is read. 😉” . . . .I agree and loving others is so, so good for our own hearts too! Light hearted is very good, we always need more light hearted! 😊😅😄🐱❤

      “When we ‘fear man over God’, we have a problem and we need some care and sorting through, because usually it is a system of something deeper.” . . . .Absolutely, the issue is not the issue. The real issue is so often very deep. —I agree.

      “It’s part of our natural state and spiritual state that we would desire to be loved, cared for and also desire ‘to reciprocate’ that, but not all people are retrieving from His ‘healthy’ love first. (Usually there are plenty of reasons for these obstacles)” . . . . .Exactly, —I agree with that.

      “There is great purpose in this place, but it will never be my true home. The streets may be familiar, but His heart is where I find my peace and reverence for what He grants me.” . . . .That is really, really beautiful. Strangers, aliens, in the world, —not of it. Exactly!!! 2 Peter 2:11, John 15:18-19, John 16:33, Matthew 16:18, John 14:3.

      “Hugs and prayers to you 🌸” . . . .Thank you so, so much, —especially for the prayers. I need them! 🙏 💖 💜 💟 I so believe in prayer 🙏. I really believe that God shapes the entire world by prayer. Prayers live out before God, and God’s heart is set on them. —Thank you so much Aly.🙏✆✉☎☏

    • Aleea on December 1, 2017 at 8:38 pm

      Oh Aly,
      I am so, so sorry this has been a horrible rough day.😥 When I have those days, I just go home or to my hotel room when I am traveling and spend quality time with the Lord. I just go to the Lord, put my head in His lap and say: “hold me”. . . .Do you know what I mean???🌈✝❤

      —And yes, I see what you are saying …and this is what I often wonder about, is this exactly what we would have to see if life arose by accident. Because life can arise by accident only in a universe that large and that old. The fact that we observe exactly what the theory of accidental origin requires and predicts is evidence that that theory is correct. Because without a God, life can only exist by chemical accident, such a chemical accident will be exceedingly rare, and exceedingly rare things only commonly happen in vast universes where countless tries are made over vast spans of time. Likewise, a universe not designed for us will not look well suited to us but be almost entirely unsuited to us and we will survive only in a few tiny chance pockets of survivable space in it. . . . .blah, blah, blah. . . . .blah, blah, blah. . . 🌙 💫 🌟

      . . .BUT, I want to tell you and JoAnn something else I found out today. . . .I hope it cheers you up too. It certainly did me.😊💕

      Aly/JoAnn,

      Re: what JoAnn said above▲: “. . .Colossians 1:11-14. He, Himself is our “allotted portion.” Our circumstances are not our portion; they simply help us to open to Him and partake of His life and nature in the midst of our situation. (2 Peter 1:4). . .”

      re:believers in Christ have been allotted by God a portion of Christ as the good land

      I’ve now had more time to r-e-a-l-l-y pray about that and look at all the scriptures. . . . .Μερίδα share τοῦ of the κλήρου inheritance . . . Christ is the allotted portion of the saints in the light (Col. 1:12). We have a “lot”, a portion of Christ allotted to us by God, and we now need to walk in Him, labor on Him (—I don’t understand that meaning yet), live in Him, and do everything in Him.

      . . .the rest makes sense. When Christ is our portion, any desire and want, other than Christ, seems to fall away. I certainly feel that at times. He becomes my desire and my heart cries out: You are all I want in this life! At times, JoAnn/Aly, I can honestly, truly say that right from my heart.❤

      LORD, I cry to you for help; you, LORD, are my protector; you are all I want in this life. ✔

      You are all I want in this life!!! In prayer I hear: “Will you receive what I have for you?”

      Yes, Lord ✔ . . .if You help me to receive it but I’m really, really, r-e-a-l-l-y human and can only stand so much. It can’t just be nonsense and I can’t operate under intellectual dishonesty. My choice is you, GOD, first and only. —And all those references seem to indicate (—now I find) I’m His choice too! Wow!!! ツ✝❣😊🎼

    • Aleea on December 2, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      . . . .Please pray for me, if you have time. I know how *totally* busy ↪✈ life is. . . .Especially that the Satan does not snatch what little I do understand from me.

      . . .I’m the one pushing on the door that says “PULL” . . . .Honestly, my only true understanding is in knowing how so very, very little I do know. . . . .The fear of the LORD is the beginning of all knowledge, all wisdom. . . .I always pray: Lord God, I *seriously* lack wisdom but You said “. . . .if anyone lacks wisdom, let them ask of You, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given. . . .” Help me Lord God, please change me and I don’t even know how to ask what that change should be! It just seems that Glory of the world makes life so meaningless and Glory of God fulfills it, and I don’t even know why . . . but I don’t need to know why❣†✝💖😊✨

      💛How are you doing in your relationship with Jesus. . . .
      ❤How can I pray for you. . . . .
      💙We are working for Christ’s story to totally overtake our stories (our abuse stories). . . .🌺

    • Aleea on December 2, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      “Yes, Aleea, I have been praying for you.” . . . .Thank you so, so much, JoAnn. —Best gift 💗🙏 🎁 💗 ever!

      “. . .fibromyalgia. I have found some help, but it will take a lot of determination to follow the protocol for reversing it, so I will appreciate prayers in that direction.” . . . .I am so, so sorry to hear that and I certainly will pray. I will ask my prayer group to pray too. We have doctors in my family and I know no medical speciality really specializes in it. The rheumatologists (if that is how you spell that) and neurologists often just don’t know what to do with fibromyalgia patients. My sister, who works critical care, says people do get better with doctors who have taken a special *deep* interest in the topic.

      “This will be my last, great effort to help myself, or learn to live with the increasing limitations, which may be the Lord’s plan for me, or not. So, we all have our “growth paths” to follow, and His grace is sufficient.” —Don’t give up, you are obviously drawing from the well that will never run dry (John 4:13-14). . . .I’m praying for you every day, my prayer group will too.😊💕 🌷 🌹 🌺 . . . .I appreciate you JoAnn and so value your perspectives.💡☕

  13. JoAnn on November 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    Aleea, be careful not to be too introspective. That will take you to a dark place. Growth in life is a very slow process, and we can help it along by prayer and spending time in the Word of God to get to know Him, but it all takes time. You said: “To look to Christ to meet my perceived psychological needs is to Christianize my idols. We are asking God to give us what we want, so we can feel better about ourselves or so we can have more happiness, not holiness, in our lives.” Actually, His way is to dispense His divine life into us, so that we can learn to live by His life and thereby express Him. This is grace. Read Colossians 1:11-14. He, Himself is our “allotted portion.” Our circumstances are not our portion; they simply help us to open to Him and partake of His life and nature in the midst of our situation. (2 Peter 1:4) How often I have come to the place where I had to say, “I can’t, Lord, but You can.” That’s a good place to be. So, what makes God happy, and us, too, is to say, “Lord, I just want more of You.”

  14. Aly on December 1, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Aleea,

    Such a great question to express and I believe a beautiful one.
    You wrote:
    “How do I learn the fear of the Lord, in the right way? How can I be overwhelmed with His majesty and the fear of Him so much that I don’t focus on people anymore?”

    The is the Jealousy place that brings such Peace as God would desire in our hearts for our own stability.
    Fearing God the right way, I believe means seeking after Him with all I have of Christ’s love and perseverance within me.
    Also, I think it’s important to note that He gave us the place of importance to help us along and align our relationship with Him first and others second for a specific reason.

    Our relationships (healthy, growing, non healthy.. non growing?) are very important to God but He clearly prefers for our own well being that we are ‘safer’ to have such things aligned where we are not putting people above God.

    He made us in His image and I believe he’s serious about loving people for the greatest good of them.
    Without people, there is ‘no Body of Christ’ there is no Bride.
    He just asked we align those places because after all he is a God of Structure;) and order…look at our solar system.

    We are designed to Love God and love others. That’s His design and if we were not designed to Love ‘others’, than why not give us our own planet to work these trials out?
    I’m being a bit light hearted here, hope that is read. 😉

    When we ‘fear man over God’, we have a problem and we need some care and sorting through, because usually it is a system of something deeper.

    It’s part of our natural state and spiritual state that we would desire to be loved, cared for and also desire ‘to reciprocate’ that, but not all people are retrieving from His ‘healthy’ love first.
    (Usually there are plenty of reasons for these obstacles)

    I think it’s reasonable that when we are truly honest, we care what others think of us, but often it’s more important that, ‘that opinion’ is in alignment with the Structure God offers.

    You will notice the battle is in the kingdoms.
    Gods kingdom verses Worldly man’s. Many people measure against the worldly example rather than the Heart of God.
    There is great purpose in this place, but it will never be my true home. The streets may be familiar, but His heart is where I find my peace and reverence for what He grants me.

    Hugs and prayers to you 🌸

  15. Aly on December 1, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Aleea,

    Today has been a rough day beyond, yet I have been granted such special moments that I treasure. Grief meets comfort is my experience today.

    Such drastic opposites collide and love & life wins;) evil vs. good, good wins always wins.

    You wrote something SO important;
    “Our universe is an unbelievably chaotic place. —99.99999 percent composed of lethal radiation-filled vacuum, and 99.99999 percent of all the material in the universe comprises killer black holes, massive exploding stars in which nothing can ever live, and 99.99999 percent of all other material in the universe (—all planets, moons, clouds, asteroids) is barren of life and outright inhospitable to life.”

    Here your specifics actually reveal His glory! Do you see it?
    Is barren of Life, and outright inhospitable to life ~ but yet Aleea~ THERE is Life 😍
    Your points actually affirm my points.

    By there being ‘Life’ , there shows structure and the necessary elements for Life to be ordered and orchestrated in chaos as you described above.

    Hugs and prayers 💜✝️💜

  16. JoAnn on December 2, 2017 at 10:19 am

    YESSS!!! Christ our Good Land, to walk in, to cultivate, to enjoy and feast with Him. The Old Testament type of the good land as a prefigure of Christ is so wonderful. Everything we need is in Him, and He, as the life-giving Spirit, is in us to appropriate and enjoy. When our eyes are on Him, not much else matters. “Look away, oh look away, Look to Jesus now today…”

  17. JoAnn on December 2, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Yes, Aleea, I have been praying for you. The Spirit of Jesus lives in you and He will guide you to all wisdom. It just takes time.
    I do appreciate prayers; thank you for asking. I enjoy the Lord daily, in His word and prayer, and lately have been “groaning” under the challenges of fibromyalgia. I have found some help, but it will take a lot of determination to follow the protocol for reversing it, so I will appreciate prayers in that direction. This will be my last, great effort to help myself, or learn to live with the increasing limitations, which may be the Lord’s plan for me, or not. So, we all have our “growth paths” to follow, and His grace is sufficient.

  18. JoAnn on December 2, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Thank you, Dear Sister.

  19. Hope on December 3, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    There’s something else interesting I haven’t seen mentioned here. Someone (like the lady who posed the blog question) who is very “functionally-oriented” (may do many concrete acts of service) but is also very self-focused with low or no empathy or sense of relational care for others may have Aspergers Syndrome or be on the autism spectrum. .My highly practical, hands-on husband of 28 years has a breath-taking lack of empathy and is lost and bewildered by anything relational. His world is extremely concrete, so acts of service do “make sense” to him; hugging a crying wife or child really doesn’t.

    It’s so hard for me to sort out problems are due to his relational disability and what’s truly a spiritual problem. It’s such a lonely road in marriage. I’m trying to put together Leslie’s wonderful insights on abuse with the understanding that with Aspergers much of his emotionally abusive behavior may be unintentional. (But even if you’re unintentionally wounded, you’re STILL wounded and must learn how to heal/recover.) So grateful more awareness about Aspergers is coming into the Body of Christ! I really appreciate any and all prayers for me on this journey… I’d love to hear from any others who have Aspergers spouses.

    • Aly on December 3, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      Hope;)

      Boy I can so relate to what you describe and would probably feel like it described a lot of my early marriage and beyond (getting worse).

      You pointed out such truths with being injured by a person who either is unintentionally doing it or not, it still is painful. Let’s not mention how painful it is when it’s a sacred spouse supposed to be a best friend and the closest person in a convenant to.
      Do you have support around you?

      You’re not alone with this circumstance, and I’m so sorry for what you have gone through. Are you in counseling with this level of specialized care?
      Has your husband been assessed of sorts..or is he going through any type of process?
      I thought my husband was also on the spectrum, actually I think he was ‘raised’ by parents or one parent on the spectrum and that developmental injury added to his ‘huge’ lack of empathy, narc traits, addiction to work, self centered behavior, developmental immaturity in places and a lot of unhealed traumas and past unresolved grief and bonding~ and yes all of this affects a spiritual journey!
      My husband has been successful in working on his process even though it will be a lifelong process ~ similar to all of ours;)

      I think Leslie has a professional that she recommends out to these certain circumstances.

      Don’t go it alone, praying for your heart and for healing 💕

    • Connie on December 3, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      Hope, the man in charge of Elijah House ministries has Autism/Asperger’s. He has had to work harder than most at it but he does not use it as an excuse to not have empathy. His wife and children have had to help him a lot, as well as others, but he is very empathetic.

      Question: Did your husband have empathy before you married him? I’m a little suspect of the excuse, because if he didn’t, he likely would not have won your heart.

  20. Hope on December 4, 2017 at 1:12 am

    Thanks so much, Aly and Connie! I’m still building support around me–friends, my church/pastor, other AS wives, an online AS support group. I’ve been in counseling for 3 1/2 years on my own with a Christian counselor experienced in AS. It’s been a very steep learning curve learning all I can about AS. My counselor keeps reminding me that AS is not an excuse for his refusing to learn and grow.

    He hasn’t been willing to hear me or go to counseling or read/learn about AS no matter what approach I take…Normally he’s very passive, but he becomes an emotional bully or shuts down the conversation anytime I bring up anything about “us” or our relationship. Many traumas for me through the years.

    God has been so faithful to me on a heartbreaking, lonely (and sometimes scary) walk. Our marriage is more like a business arrangement and he doesn’t “get” that this isn’t marriage to me. The things I’m learning here about abuse, boundaries, self-care, etc I’m putting into practice as best I can day by day in the context of AS. I’m so thankful!

    I need courage and wisdom and prayer backup as I figure out how I can heal and then stay well–and whether I may need to leave well. In the new year, I know I need to take some further steps. I lost my mom in January and my dad in September this year. He has no idea of how to comfort or care for me, and I’m not able to tell him (again) anymore. I’m doing my best to do really good self-care and not isolate. So thankful for God’s love and His wonderful people!

    PS – Connie, I misread many dysfunctional patterns when we dated. I thought he was just very shy, socially inexperienced, needed healing from an alcoholic parent, etc, etc. And I’m a nurturing, high-empathy person.

    • Aly on December 4, 2017 at 9:24 am

      Hope,

      I’m so glad you have such the support around you and a counselor is so important.
      To me, all of those things are healthy agents we can all seek to have regardless of the health of a marriage situation.
      I’m also so very sorry for your recent losses. You are going through a lot here and I’m thankful you see God’s heart for you.

      Your counselor is right on with your husband not having an excuse to not grow & learn because of AS.
      I wonder what the counselor suggests as options for yourself to not accept or tolerate that as a reasonable handicap?
      It’s a handicap if in fact he clearly has AS, but one that can be addressed to learn and improve.

      My heart just sunk when I read that your not allowed to tell him about your comfort or needs during such a loss! I can relate to that level of hurt and rejection of comfort.
      I’m so sorry for this pain. You are worthy of such care and comfort for your heart.🌸

      I got to a point of my pain (during plenty of other interventions) where I asked my husband how he felt about living separately?

      He wasn’t up for that because I believed he was quite satisfied as having a live human body around the house to make it ‘feel’ like a marriage ~ even though it wasn’t to me. Plus, there were plenty of other symptoms of dealing with someone quite self-consumed but yet highly intelligent.

      For me, my situation grew to a unhealthy level of ‘reoccurring abandonment’ and it was over and over. Good self care and heathy boundaries were essential to myself and to my husband, which was the most loving thing I could offer as his helpmeet.
      I will pray for wisdom and comfort for you Hope! So glad you know you’re not alone ever and so many have trekked these scary places.
      Much love and hugs!

  21. Hope on December 4, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks Aly, for your care. It helps so much!

    I’m so sorry for the rough road you’ve had and for the places your heart hasn’t been cared for tenderly and well. May Jesus wrap His arms of comfort and healing around you.

    Yes, I think my husband too is fine with things as they are. The reality is this isn’t at all what I was agreeing to on our wedding day–but it seems to be the way he wants to live, no matter what. I don’t, but that (in his mind) isn’t his problem. It’s crazy-making!

    I liked what you said about self-care and healthy boundaries being the most loving thing you could offer your husband. Did you ever end up living separately? My husband told me he will not leave if I ask him to (sigh). It’s complicated because we have a young adult son still living with us who also shows signs of AS. It would be very hard for me to be the one to leave.

    • JoAnn on December 4, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      I, too, am sorry for what you have had to endure. While it might not be possible to get your husband to work on himself, your son might benefit from some specialized help. I hope that will be possible. May the Lord supply you with His all-sufficient grace.

      • Hope on December 5, 2017 at 11:32 am

        Thanks JoAnn. I think you’re right and I’m going to keep looking for ways I can help my son, no matter what his dad decides to do.

    • Aly on December 4, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      Hope,

      To answer simply, no we didn’t separate. But it became clear to him that I was unwilling to try to normalize or survive ‘status quo’.
      Having a professional is so important which I understand you have. Also a lot of support ~ which you have also stated having.

      As far as me leaving the home to separate that wasn’t so realistic because I am the primary care giver to our children. Some do an in house separation but I was also unwilling to do this for many other reasons but mainly because my husband would have been able to Adjust to live like that as that was a lot of his family of origin norms. Too comfortable in my opinion and ‘too uncomfortable’ for our children who are the innocent affected.

      I got to a place with my own recovery that I saw that my behavior was teaching and also reinforcing my husband that there was NO consequences to his behavior or decision to admit to himself there was a problem ‘big time’.
      Why would he decide to see something needed to adjust? AS or not.. he was quite able to cope well in such a displaced emotional environment. I was the only one suffering~ and our children too at different times.

      You wrote:
      “Yes, I think my husband too is fine with things as they are. The reality is this isn’t at all what I was agreeing to on our wedding day–but it seems to be the way he wants to live, no matter what. I don’t, but that (in his mind) isn’t his problem. It’s crazy-making!”

      This is crazy making, I agree! Quite common attitude overall.

      If you haven’t already you might consider stepping into the process of new options or different places for you to venture with your Counselor. Just a thought here..Playing out what you could fear the most.

      My h had/has also a LOT of great qualities that I was attracted to and we had some areas where we were on the same page.

      My husband ultimately isn’t being helped for ASp., but for avoidant addiction ~ emotional intimacy issue. The symptoms are similar. Some of it is organic but mainly family of origin environment, Attachment wounding, as well as past relationship trust/traumas pre ‘me’.
      Also I think the ASp. will never be completely off the table it just highlights areas where he has to work that much harder, rather than think he doesn’t have to.

      You mentioned you are nurturing and have high empathy ~ this is interesting, my h would describe me as similar and also what was attractive to him.
      This was something that helped me sort through what ‘could’ have been the driving ‘wounded’ motivators.

      I’m trying to help and share here with information I hope it’s helpful of any kind. The Lord was so good to giving me the energy to sort through so much and evaluate my options.
      I’ll pray for strength and comfort for you, just know He sees and He cares💟

  22. Hope on December 5, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Aly, it helps so much to hear some of your journey…and gives me some new things to think about. It helps me feel less alone. You’re right–it takes a lot of energy to sort it all through…that’s the process I’m in. Thanks for opening your heart and sharing with me!

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