Getting Your Thoughts: A request for your ideas and counsel

Last week I received this very honest and despondent comment from someone on the comments thread of another article.  I have kept even their pseudonym anonymous because I did not obtain direct permission to publish this as a separate post, and given the nature of the comment, I simply thought it considerate.  (I know that I don’t ask permission from other commenters to publish their contributions in articles, but the nature of those comments, compared to this, is usually quite different).

I have added my response to the body of the article, but I would love to get your counsel and opinions and ideas as well, because you have all, I think, experienced similar things, and each of us offer unique and personal insights which may very well be extremely enlightening to both this person and the rest of us.

And so, my brilliant readers, one and all, please add your two cents, or even a tithe, to this fellow victim of the philosophy which kills and wrecks, but which will never ultimately vanquish.  I say up the individual!  And let them who cry out for life and the God-ordained right to pursue the interest of the SELF without fear or shame or harm be validated, elevated, promoted, and affirmed, both by us and by the Divine, who continuously observes the distinction between Himself and His children, whom He loves because they are uniquely THEMSELVES, and their LIFE is theirs to live; and this the most beautiful gift!

*

I am a survivor of a calvinist takeover in my church, and a husband who has became a narcissist. This has been a slow fade for about 10 years. He started attending a mens bible study which was teaching biblical manhood. He was taught that men were the head of the house, and their job was to make the wife and children submit. Even if the wife protests, she really does not mean it because she desires and want to have someone rule over her. Of course, this was packaged with a beautiful bow. It made the men think that having a family was like being the CEO of a company. The family did not have feelings or opinions, but they were to be managed like a company. I would try to express my feeling, hurts etc., and he would justify his behavior, twist and turn his words, lie, tell half truths, and finally say that I am unforgiving which means that I am the one with the problem. I would go away, pray, read my bible, cry out to God to change me and help me forgive him. I have even asked him to pray for me that I would be able to forgive him. The whole time he was guilty of the accused action , but he would never never never admit it. He let me suffer for years. How could someone say that they love you when they are willing and causing your suffering. I began to think I was crazy. I lost myself. I became depressed and gained a lot of weight. I was involved in a church that had a calvinist pastor who lied when he was hired. He knew the church he was going into was not reformed. The church ended up splitting, we left, but the abuse continues on. My job (according to this theology) was to never talk bad about him to anyone and to make him look good. I did my part, but I have recently found out that he threw me under the bus to my kids. He turned them against me by using brainwashing and subtle hints to accomplish this. If he wanted them to clean their rooms, he would not just tell them he would say, “Your mom is so tired, and you should not make her do all this work blah blah blah.” My kids were convinced that I was complaining to him, but I never did. He is a coward. This theology tears people and homes apart. They may look beautiful on the outside but the victims are just shells because the narcissist has snuffed out every bit of life from the family.”

*

Welcome to the blog, and thank you for sharing. I know how hard it is to talk about these things and how difficult it can be to put into words. I think you will find many understanding voices on this blog; almost all of us, like you, have witnessed first hand the destruction Calvinism can wreak upon a church, and not the least of the fallout is the obliteration of individuals and their families, as you well describe. Indeed, the individual and the ones they love most are a purposefully chosen target of this vile doctrine.

I am terribly sorry for what has happened to you. But know this: you are not alone. Many of us have had our families and our psyches wrecked by this deceptive philosophy, and for as many as it spits out and destroys, that many are able to rise from the swaths of smoldering ashes it leaves behind as it attempts to cast the individual into the abyss of oblivion; an objective which it cannot ever truly or finally accomplish, as its foundations are dry sand, and brittle are the pillars which bulwark its assertions.  For its assertions need only a speck of the light of reason cast upon them, and the rest of the philosophy quickly flames and withers.  It burns bright for a moment, but it is the fire of mere kindling; for there is no substance to sustain it, so it is quickly snuffed out, offering neither lasting heat nor light.  Of this I am convinced.

And you must further understand that by simply questioning the lies…by seeing, though perhaps not altogether articulating, the contradictions and observing the massive discrepancies between what is taught and what is observed, you already know more than those who abuse you. You are already beginning your journey to recovery. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. And never forget that what you are rejecting, having witnessed its very real destruction and felt its very real pain, has nothing to do with the Christ they pretend to promote. It is a lie. It is unworkable. It is death worship. NEVER forget this. No matter how cleanly packaged and scrubbed the philosophy may be presented to you, it is no angel of light. On the contrary, It is an evil which rejects both God and man, and those who demand you concede its rule over you have NO interest in YOUR life; indeed, they reject it out of hand. You exist to be exploited and consumed for THEIR good pleasure, nothing more. And even if they themselves are too intellectually lazy or vacant to apprehend the depths of its evil, the reality is that by that very small, first glimpse of its dissonance, you have shown that you are absolutely not.  And though that first glimpse may seem small, you are already intellectually and philosophically and theologically and morally miles and miles ahead of those who sell their souls to Satan, and exchange truth for lies just to acquire a little comfort, a little momentary power.  They exchange perpetual heaven for brief flash of self-importance and the illusion of metaphysical superiority.  But you are NEVER obligated to participate in their make-believe; the cartoons which pass for legitimate interpretations of reality.  On the contrary, reason and morality demand that you reject it as patently false, and pursue, happily, your SELF as the only legitimate, God-affirmed metaphysic.

You are on the right track. Just never forget that YOU are good and YOU are SUPPOSED to exist as YOU, and that YOU and the pursuit of YOUR own life are necessary to truth, reason, and reality. YOU have nothing to be ashamed of. YOUR reflection in the mirror is God’s perfect will for you. Pursue that, and LIFE, even life eternal, shall be your reward.

Blessings to you,

Argo

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24 thoughts on “Getting Your Thoughts: A request for your ideas and counsel

  1. Ok, This is huge and I am not sure where to start because I have so little info. But beware and I feel I must warn of this first, if you leave or have left without your kids it is considered abandonment. Some women have done that out of desperation only to regret it later.

    So the first thing is planning. And on that planning list is #1— your self worth. Your value.

    From what little you describe you are dealing with narcissism which I am convinced is endemic to much of what passes for evangelicalism. Especially in Comp/pat circles. And yes, I have witnessed many husbands change dramatically after being around it for a while. It is where they are getting their self worth these days and it is by putting their wives in a pecking order. That is their definition of “manly”.

    You gotta get educated on what you are dealing with. A great book is:

    http://www.amazon.com/Promise-Despise-Abuse-Marriage-Narcissistic/dp/0615406564

    and

    http://www.amazon.com/Subtle-Power-Spiritual-Abuse-Manipulation/dp/0764201379/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408846860&sr=1-1&keywords=the+subtle+power+of+spiritual+abuse

    You have got to your brain in gear and really think through. If you have family who are supportive, I would start there. If not, you have to look into what resources there are in your area.

    I would advise playing cold grey rock for a long while. Don’t try to convince him of anything. Be indifferent. But you pray for wisdom and that your children’s hearts are guarded from false beliefs. While you might be seething inside, just smile next time and say, no it wasn’t because mommy was tired it was because I know your self worth comes from achievement and I want you to be an achiever in life! Turn his insults and undermining into a positive for your kids. It is hard so practice different phrases. What can he really say to that?

  2. Van Vonderen’s book is a good introduction. If one wants to label the man above as a pathological narcissist I would deem it important to consider why he is one or why he became one. Besides the spiritual labels of deceit, illusion, false image, idolatry, exchange of truth for lies, demonization etc. I would also consider that our lives can best be described as a story. His story will be made up of both positive and negative, triumph and loss, redemption and fall and in all of this you may find the answer to why he has fallen under the spell of this behaviour. When you look at it the very same thing he wants 1. A secure and godly family 2. To be obedient and 3. be respectable is truning out to be the very opposite of what he is getting ie. a whitewashed tomb. As a man is self-sabotaging and self-defeating by these choices he has done the very opposite of what he intended. If there is any redemptive hope some perspective would be needed on both parties side. Perspective is sometimes gained by distance.

  3. “This theology tears people and homes apart. They may look beautiful on the outside but the victims are just shells because the narcissist has snuffed out every bit of life from the family.”

    This whole comment was heart-wrenching to read. Thank you for speaking up about your experience. You are not alone. This is reality for quite a few families who attend churches where roles are determined by anatomy alone. Right & wrong have been mixed up. Many husbands/fathers & wives/mothers have been deceived. I am glad you are not. Those that seek truth will find it. But truth must be sought after.

    I think you are an incredible woman for figuring it out. You are right, it gets right down to the theology. Wish more would figure it out. I say that based on the comments I read on discernment blogs – Groundhog Day doesn’t go away. How can you expect a practicing Calvinist to do right, apologize, repent, or care when love is forever at odds with their theology? It is unrealistic pie-in-the-sky thinking. They must first dump their theology & follow Jesus. I think this theology is deep in narcissists because it’s in sync with their line of thinking. I also think this theology makes sense to those who have lost hope or have given in to fate. I am so glad you are wise to it. Do not give in.

    If or when you ever feel despair, know that God loves you. Repeat to yourself over & over again that God loves you, that you are valuable, that we are cheering you on. Your worth is not assigned to you by anyone else. A person can undermine their own value. A person can also make effort to confirm their value. But another person can’t pick your worth for you. This is a God-given right & blessing you have. Just think about that for a while.

    I would caution you not to confide in Christians in your church. It may bring on more hurt. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to observe/look/listen for others who aren’t Christians or fatalists but have a strong conviction of right & wrong. Look for those who care about social justice, women, children, etc. Try to surround yourself with those types. They may be less likely to be fooled by a manipulator, but that’s a maybe.

    Most times, manipulators & narcissists act like two different people in one body. They do some good or at least what appears to be good. It can be extremely difficult for others to understand, since they may see mostly good action from them. “That can’t be the person I know”.

    You know best your situation. I can’t advise you on specifically what to do. I will say it is not wrong to outsmart a narcissist, meanie, or bad person. It is not wrong to think about ways to value & take care of yourself today & in the long run.

    Want you to know that while I have been gathering my thoughts, I have been thinking and praying for you.

  4. Trust your gut more. That was a huge failing of mine. I kept making excuses and rationalizing that I was not seeing what I was seeing. I still need to trust my gut more. Gut=Holy Spirit in my world. :o)

  5. A Mom,

    You last comment on John’s blog was spot on. But Tom is unable to make the connection. He doesn’t see that suffering which IS, as he puts it, has an absolute metaphysic of its own, which then necessarily subordinates man, which means man’s life is perpetually subject to the causal power of suffering, which makes any attempt to “deal with it” ultimately futile. Which leads precisely to the place you explain: don’t bother resisting abuse, torment, tyranny, lies. Since you MUST suffer, making all attempts to resist it pointless, life IS torture, period. Suffering is man’s existential state of being, because he is a failure at his metaphysical root, restricted from integration into his universe because of his depravity (which is really existential INABILITY). He is NOT supposed to be alive. His very existence is the cause of his torment and his sin then because the rest of the universe constantly rejects him as unworthy of integration.

    You have connected the dots. But Tom will not; he simply lacks the intellectual capacity to see the massive inconsistency between his assertions and the conclusions of those assertions. He may possess a good analytical mind, which may make him a good programmer, but this does not (and in my opinion is actually contra-indicative) translate into rational mind.

    You can talk until you run out of words to say, but he won’t grasp any of them. Just saying. He is a consummate Collectivist and Calvinist, but like the pathological addict, and like so MANY Calvinists, denial via blindness has hijacked his ability to process reality consistently.

    He is a conscience which has been seared; an utterly hopeless cause. It is likely time to move on. Just my opinion.

  6. Case in point. Tom’s last comment. Just all over the place, schizophrenic, whack-a-mole reasoning. Literally no two thoughts comporting in any rational way. An explosion of chaotic Pollockesque thinking. It makes absolutely zero sense, and he doesn’t see any of it.

    Sigh.

  7. “Suffering is man’s existential state of being, because he is a failure at his metaphysical root, restricted from integration into his universe because of his depravity (which is really existential INABILITY).” Argo

    I’m so glad you brought total depravity up.

    Depravity, IMO, is when someone hurts someone else & doesn’t care & doesn’t believe such action harms themselves. I think of it as a lack of conscience or Holy Spirit.

    Depravity is not a state of humanness. It is a choice of action.

    I agree. Time to move on. I left one more conclusive comment. There’s nothing more to say….

    Tom claims he’s no longer a Calvinist. He’s a fatalist, IMO, so the apple’s not that far from the tree. His writing reminds me of Grace Writer Randy.

  8. I think my conclusive comment hit a nerve. I do not wish for him or anyone to live in self – inflicted pain or in pain from injustice.

    My comments have been about ideas of self restoration, triumph, value, love, good. A way out of that pain. Wish he could understand they go hand in hand with love.

    Argo, I see a life-affirming message. Why do you think it’s rejected before even being considered, or so it seems? People don’t get past the crucifixion?

  9. Also, has anyone read Karen Schaeffer’s post on welovemarshill blog?

    If not, check it out when you get a chance. I’d like to hear thoughts.

    MD is ruthless & depraved, IMO. But you don’t need supernatural abilities to know it. Heathen would know. Also, MD’s wrong was not God’s “allowing” plan. It was MD’s doing.

    I would say the waiting & needing “confirmation” is epidemic paralysis. That is what Christians seem to think is a badge of honor. It seems like enabling… Like letting the trash pile up in the kitchen for God to take out… Then when it’s up to the roof, I decide God wants me to finally take it out… Ugh.

  10. A Mom,

    I just read it. Shrug. What is there to say? It’s more discernment blog mumbo jumbo. And unless Karen has completely rejected the doctrinal assertions that she adhered to at MH, of which she gives no indication, I would liken this letter to one Calvinist simply trying to frighten/bully another into accepting THEIR “divine insight”.

    Again, the doctrine is never mentioned as the root of the problem; the things Mark BELIEVES never indicted as being the cause of his evil actions. And without a full on rejection of the doctrine, the entire exercise becomes simply a “new boss same as the old boss” charade. Only this time Karen Is God’s proxy instead of Mark. How exactly does that happen? Er…Who the fuck knows? She just woke up one day and decided it did. Mark is bad. She is good. The ideas don’t change, only the hands behind the gun of God’s wrath.

    I mean she says the Holy Spirit has commanded her to speak to him…but what does this mean, really? I mean, how on earth do you quantify or rationalize or give evidence for that? I don’t know. What’s the rubric? The plumb line? The standard by which one can know that this person speaks by the Spirit? Quoting scripture? Declaring it so? Biblically there were always signs. But what does Karen claim? Sound doctrine? Divine wisdom? Proven so by…well, just because she really, really thinks so, and reeeeeally makes a point to be adamant. I speak for God, she says. Hell…why shouldn’t that be good enough?

    For crying out loud.

    One more person claiming to speak for God is truly the LAST thing in the universe that helps anyone with anything in these abusive church scenarios. EVER. In fact, it is the very idea that “I speak for God just because…” which kicked off this whole fucking mess in the first place. Are we really that fucking obtuse? Our memory really that short?

    But what this claim of “prophesy” really says to me is that she doesn’t particularly have a rational argument to present. She needs the “authority” of “prophesy” to compel someone into conceding her ideas. Which really boils down to employing FEAR to compel behavior, which is simply a form of FORCE. Do what I say or I’m gonna sick God on ya! Resist and watch yourself burn in hell, O dastardly vermin! Depraved child of Satan! Soup’s on and your in the pot! Cackle, cackle, fiendish grin.

    This letter is everything wrong with “discernment” blogging. Replace the “wrong” leaders with the ones God really wants and everything magically becomes sugar and puppies and love children washing the feet of Jesus freaks and lambs nuzzling lions and Oompah Loompah’s square dancing with Ewoks and the Wizard of Oz.

    It’s such a fucking side show. Mark Driscoll if he is even half the man he claims to be should shrug this off with a chuckle. HE is the anointed one. And it is KAREN, not Mark, who risks wrath and hellfire for daring to question he who “stands in the stead of God”.

    Any wonder people are fleeing the church like a Japanese mob flees Godzilla?

  11. Argo,

    I was once brainwashed, having spent a lot of time, money, energy, volunteering in the church. The TANC videos, your blog, Paul’s, John’s, comments really got me thinking. And observing & listening. So glad I was willing to think about opposing ideas & check my own. I will continue to do so.

    Hope others will keep searching to find the root problems also.

    The discernment blogs are helpful in church news. And spreading the word about wrongs & standing up to them. So glad I have a place to connect besides the discernment blogs. So glad there are places to get to the root of the problems & discuss them.

    People need to leave & put these churches out of business. But if they remain brainwashed to the theology, then they are susceptible to groundhog day over & over again in another church or gathering.

  12. SCDP,

    Lol! Bill Murray is in two of my top ten movies of all time. Ground Hog Day and What About Bob? (which is number two on the list, preceded by The Road Warrior, which is number ONE).

  13. “Depravity is not a state of humanness. It is a choice of action.”

    Great summation!

    “Tom claims he’s no longer a Calvinist. He’s a fatalist, IMO, so the apple’s not that far from the tree. His writing reminds me of Grace Writer Randy.”

    Tom reminds me of some “contrarians” I have worked with. I think Argo got his goat early on and he cannot live with that so he is trying very hard (too hard) to be a contrarian and keeps trying to bring in non sequiturs that miss the overall point.

    We were not dealing with “what is”, we were dealing with “what should be” or “what should not be”. He would not grasp that as he is stuck on “what is” which quite frankly comes from a lot of dualism, collectivism all of which are evil and produce suffering..

    For example, Yes, babies die of cancer and that is suffering. But as humans we work to end that. Our goal is to STOP IT. He cannot grasp the fact that to work to end suffering is actually “human”. To say, oh such things are inevitable in our fallen world and we must endure it, is NOT human. We want to use our brains to eradicate it.

    His approach to suffering is all over Protestantism, Political collectivism and so forth.

  14. “I would say the waiting & needing “confirmation” is epidemic paralysis. That is what Christians seem to think is a badge of honor. It seems like enabling… Like letting the trash pile up in the kitchen for God to take out… Then when it’s up to the roof, I decide God wants me to finally take it out… Ugh.”

    What a great metaphor!

    You know I was thinking something about this recently in how “Christians” respond to guys like Driscoll. It is like watching dualism in action if one knows what to look for.

    It goes like this: On one hand they believe Mark was a great guy in the beginning who preached the Gospel and led many to Christ. But his success turned him into a guy who went the wrong way. So, he is still a Christian but does evil things, too, as expected by anyone. So we need him to change so he can be the rehabbed leader again.

    What poppycock! That is dualism. The “spiritual Mark” is a good guy and means well. The “material/human Mark” went off the rails.

    And A mom has it right that this thinking brings on nothing but paralysis. And it is nothing short of enabling evil and abuse of others.

    I will never understand how the basic concepts of right and wrong are thrown out the window when it is about “Christians”.

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