Monday, June 30, 2014

Church Mothers Who Ignore their Children

I find myself walking a fine line between being judgmental and being discerning, and I really need to stay on the side of just being prudent. One of the tripwires a Christian may encounter is difficult people in a parish setting. Although we are all sinners, and in need of a spiritual hospital (a church), there also seems to be an epidemic of personality disorders in our society. Churches seem to attract a lot people with difficult personalities, whom, once they get in, can act as a destructive force. If we make the mistake of confiding in them, they will run with this information, twist it by adding some lies, and making it very difficult for you to worship in a particular setting. This is especially the case if you happen to be raising young children, and need a solid and secure spiritual home.

Those of us trying to follow our faith are in a difficult position. It is very edifying to be around others who believe the same way we do. A friend in the faith is such a beautiful gift, especially since we're living in a world that's so secular. However, in church, we often let our defenses down, because we assume everyone else is of good will. This can be a big blunder.

Learn about malignant narcissism and other personality disorders, and listen to your gut when something seems off. It often is. Realize there is a such thing as false piety. People can look very holy, but may not be nice people. Places of worship tend to draw what's known as "covert narcissists." Folks who fit this description are exceedingly dangerous. It's hard to detect such disorder beneath a pious persona, but they do give off some clues. For too many of us, though, these were apparent only in hindsight.

What to watch for? Since many covert narcissists are women, one dead giveaway is how someone treats her family. Has she pretty much abandoned her children, to dedicate herself to church projects? This is not a good sign, and it's similar to what you see when a morally disordered woman operates in the workplace. She's never home, and her children suffer dearly. Oftentimes, they are farmed out to whomever will agree to watch them, because narcissistic mothers have better things to do.

If you are married, you have a duty to take care of your husband and your children, if you have any. There is nothing holy about never being home, no matter how "good works" you are doing at church. Even animals don't tend to ignore their young.

Although we don't know the particulars of anyone's life, and we really can't judge what's happening at home, we do need to exercise caution when disclosing information to anyone who fits this description. As one who was once targeted by a female church bully, I can assure you it wasn't a pleasant experience, and it's one I recommend avoiding.

To read about female malignant narcissists, please visit my Female Bullies blog.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Church Bullies - The Poorest of the Poor

One morning, when I was at church, I had a thought that made me realize that I need to pray more for some of the people at my former place of worship. Although I am a very flawed individual, and a very unworthy servant, no one should make it difficult for another person (in my case it was my entire family) to practice their faith. If someone is of the mind to do that, they must have a very broken relationship with God. This is very sad.

While I was reflecting upon this, it struck me that the behavior I witnessed was because these people did not have enough grace to treat others with respect. Without this grace, we are literally capable of anything. They are nothing more than adult bullies, a behavior probably carried over from childhood. Only now that they've "matured," they've gotten even meaner and even more destructive. Each time they push another person around, their souls become more hardened. Ultimately, they are hurting only themselves. They need to amend their lives for their own sake, not for ours. If you're reading this, and have become the target of a church mobbing, it can't hurt to keep reminding yourself of this fact. I know this is a very difficult experience, and it's hard to remain hopeful when a battle is raging.

God will allow a storm to rage against a soul only for a limited time. Then, the storm suddenly abates. You are no longer being kicked around, and you emerge from this tempest with a stronger mental outlook and a closer relationship with Our Lord. The bully has only wracked up a long list of misdeeds.

This is why these folks truly are the poorest of the poor. They are spiritually blind, and waging an all-out war on a fellow parishioner is not going to help them see the light, at least not without our prayers.

I am truly frightened for some of the people I've encountered. God chastises those He loves. The fact that someone has gotten away with so many despicable acts must be a punishment in itself. Each one of these incidents they will have to account for.

For a discussion of female malignant narcissism, please visit my Female Bullies blog.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Role of the Enablers

As Christians we are called to forgive one another and even to love our enemies. Although this is a tough task when dealing with church bullies, we still have to do it. Anyone who abuses another desperately needs our prayers. So do the folks whom form the team of enablers.

These partners in crime are as guilty as the main instigator. There would be no bullying without them.

Because the bully gives the enablers a lot of power, they could decide to step in and stop all the commotion. The fact that they don't implicates them as well. The nature of any type of mobbing, whether it happens in the workplace, among a group of friends or even in church, is that there are multiple players, working together. It's the enablers who are responsible for the collateral damage, which is extremely devastating. That's because the target realizes that all, or most, of his or her so-called "friends" in this particular setting are not living up to that title.

Since there's so much blame to go around, I've found, it's easier to just forgive everyone. You can't direct your anger at just one person for long, because it's not just one person. None of this would have happened without the cooperation of many moving parts. Also, none of this would have happened if God didn't allow it to happen, for a greater good.

Of course, it's easier to forgive in hindsight, rather than in the heat of battle. But we need to always move toward forgiveness. Anyone who chooses to willingly hurt another, in God's house, are among the poorest of the poor. We need to keep reminding ourselves of that fact.

In case you begin to doubt that the enablers are guilty, put yourself in their position. What would you have done differently? The answer is probably plenty. These "innocent" bystanders missed many opportunities to help. Try not to pine for them, because they are not your friends. Forgive them all, but, if you begin to direct any anger at the bully, keep telling yourself that the enablers allowed it to happen.

To read about female malignant narcissists, please visit my Female Bullies blog.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Spirit of Jezebel at Church

When you hear the Old Testament story of Jezebel, it's very hard not to think about what psychologists now call malignant narcissism. Her name is often used to characterize a manipulative and deceitful woman, who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

When morally compromised people see something they want, they decide to pursue it. This could be someone else's job, their volunteer position on a church committee, a friendship or even a marital partner. In the case of Jezebel, she wanted her husband to acquire a vineyard, which the owner didn't want to sell. So she devised a scheme to get that land, which involved having the landowner put to death.

Because Jezebel was married to a king, she was able to follow through on her desires. The owner of the vineyard was brought before a court of law on false charges, and sentenced to death. This left Jezebel, and her husband, Achab, free to seize the property.

You will find all types of people at church. The vast majority are good. They want to serve God and serve their neighbor. However, in some parishes, or communities, the spirit of Jezebel has gotten the upper hand. Oftentimes this happens because an over-involved woman, or even a small, but tightly knit, group of them, has gained too much control. Because the resident Jezebel is so conniving, the pastor is virtually powerless to stop her.

I could be wrong, but it's my firm belief that we're seeing more and more of the spirit of Jezebel in these times. God is watching everything. He is allowing this to play out for a greater good, known only to Him right now. Eventually, whatever's going on at your parish will stop. All Jezebels eventually meet their own end, and we have to pray they find a way to order their lives according to God's plan, not theirs.

Meanwhile, if a Jezebel is running the show in your church, and she's making life difficult for you, think about leaving. You'll be much happier in a new parish.

For additional reading on female malignant narcissism, please read my Female Bullies blog.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Your Eternal Salvation is All That Matters

We are living in very challenging times. Those of us trying to remain faithful to Christ encounter many obstacles. It seems as if the vast majority of people have rejected God, or at least have put him far away. They appear to live with nary a care toward eternity. It's so easy for all of us to get distracted from the big picture. The most important thing we have is our relationship with God, and where we will spend eternity. But saving our souls seems more difficult than ever.

Churches are closing and the ranks of people who attend church are thinning, at least in the Western World. The Catholic Church is growing rapidly in African and in Asia, however. But those of us who live far away from these areas must persevere. When we encounter bully behavior at church, it puts our faith to the test. Because we're in the world, but not of the world, we try to remove ourselves into spiritual enclaves, only to find hardships there as well. But we still need to worship God regardless of what's going on.

Catholics are bound, under penalty of sin, to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, in keeping with the Commandment of observing the Sabbath. We also receive graces from the Holy Eucharist, which we believe is the Body and Blood of Christ. This is Biblical, recorded in the Gospel of Saint Chapter 6, which we call The Bread of Life Discourse. Jesus told us several times that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood or we will have no life within us.

If you are the target of a church bully, stay rooted in your faith and close to Christ. Above all, do not turn away from Him. Find a way to lose the bully. But keep your faith in the process.

For addition reading on malignant narcissism, please read my Female Bullies blog. Here is another article that discusses why narcissists like to join volunteer groups and organizations.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Be Wise as Serpents When Dealing With Malignant Narcissists

Encountering a malignant personality at church usually takes us by surprise. However, it shouldn't. Our Lord warned us about these types, as we can read in Saint Matthew's Gospel, Chapter 10:16. Jesus told us we are going out like sheep among wolves. He also reminded us to be wise as serpents, but gentle as doves. He also spoke of His followers being "scourged in synagogues." The early Christians were Jewish, so it took some time to transition from the synagogues to the churches we have today.

Given this Biblical warning, it would be foolish to let our guard down at church. This is a mistake I made, and I'm sure many others have made as well. Just because you maintain a set of moral standards, doesn't mean everyone else does. There are no gates at church keeping morally disordered people out. In fact, religious settings provide the morally disordered everything they need to operate. They can attain power by seizing control on parish boards and committees. They can also find a steady supply of targets to abuse, because the majority of those who attend church are good willed and trusting, sometimes to a fault.

Many Christians, I believe, take the concept of not judging one another too far. It's alright to be watchful for disorderly behavior, especially as you're just getting to know someone. This type of prudence prevents you from sharing potentially sensitive information with someone who isn't trustworthy, and whom may use it against you. Even if what you told them won't hang you, a deceiver will take a true nugget of information and mix it with damaging lies. People hearing this know part of it is true, so they'll assume the rest is factual as well.

This, in turn, could make life very difficult for us at church. Under normal circumstances, we shouldn't care so much what people think. But a parish should be a sanctuary, our spiritual home. It's one of the most important things we have, as our spirituality is tied up with our eternal salvation. Many people live in areas with only one or two churches they can attend. So it's important to try to prevent problems before they arise.

Our Lord warned us about some of the personalities we'd meet. It's a warning we should heed, especially in today's climate of spiritual disorder in the church and in the world.

I sincerely hope others can learn from my mistakes, and protect themselves from sharing information with a malignant narcissist.

Also, please feel free to visit my Female Bullies blog for a discussion on female malignant narcissists.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Church Bullies are Fools

In the Bible, there are many references to "fools." These are people who gossip and do wicked deeds to undermine others, all under the cover of darkness, of course. Although someone who fits this description may derive short-term temporal "benefits," they appear to have little concern for where they'll spend eternity, or even the punishments they'll incur in this life. That's why they're known as fools.

The Bible makes it perfectly clear that anyone who behaves this way will destroy themselves. They'll either be taken from this world suddenly, without a chance to repent, or they'll end their lives in misery. As Christians, we must pray fervently for their salvation, because these people are very much in need of our help. Psychologists call this aberrant behavior malignant narcissism. But God's term of "fool" is much more accurate.

Fools have reached the age of reason, so they know right from wrong. They are not crazy, nor are they out of touch with reality. They have full use of their faculties, and they are choosing to do evil rather than good.

The Book of Proverbs is especially rich in messages to ponder about the folly of taking a wicked path. There's no doubt it leads to destruction. In the first chapter, there's a clear message that fools "set a trap for their own lives." In Chapter 12, we are told the "schemer" is condemned by God, also that "the wicked are overwhelmed with misfortune."

Knowing this makes it much easier to forgive someone who has harmed us at church. That's because these individuals need to seek God's forgiveness. With any hope, our fervent prayers will give them the grace to do that.

It's tempting to want to settle the score ourselves. But let God handle it. Fools eventually convict themselves in the eyes of the world. This happens because people who suffer from malignant narcissism don't know when to stop, as they are not operating under the influence of the Holy Spirit. So they push things so far that their former allies begin to turn on them.

For additional reading on malignant narcissism, and how people with this disorder do not know when to call it quits, please visit my Female Bullies blog.