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.