Hope comes with understanding in bad situations. Deep confusion leads to despair. I have received many messages of appreciation for the series I have published in the last few years on the topic of narcissistic abuse and toxic people/relationships. A search on my home page (search window is just under comments in the right hand column) under those terms will locate them. It is eye-opening and tragic to hear from so many dealing with these issues.
Holidays can bring up a great deal of turmoil, both for those living in the midst of a malignant narcissist’s emotional, spiritual (or other) abuse or, those who are attempting to recover from it, even years later. The grief over a shattered ideal of a love that never was, wasted time, and often, failure to properly see things earlier is real. A time of year rife with sentiment and memories can open these wounds afresh.
One of the most painful things to watch are the enablers of malignant narcissists. These people serve to provide fuel for the perpetrator in harming a target. Their intentions, however pious, and their (willful) ignorance are beside the point. No malignant narc can operate without gas in his or her tank to run the engine of emotional and spiritual abuse. It’s important to understand the fuel and who is providing it in these situations. This is the subject of my latest article, linked here.
Additionally, a good article by another (and the comments below it) linked here, describes the difference between unconditional love and the toxic variety in these situations. It is crucial to understand this. It is easy to miss it when your heart and soul are involved with someone.
The latest article I have written is relevant to all, because even if you have not faced this situation personally, others around you have and are. You don’t want to be one of those operating the fuel pump for evil. Nobody should want to be a tool in the destruction of others.
Will recorded this traditional Thanksgiving hymn a couple of years ago. I thought I’d post it again this Thanksgiving. To American readers, have a wonderful day of thanks with friends and loved ones!
Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.
Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.
Yesterday, our 20-year-old son Will played at a recital at Wheaton College. He played the Third Movement from Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto with Dr. Karin Edwards, his teacher, on the accompaniment piano. This is the last 4 minutes of the movement (it is 14 minutes long total.) If anyone would like to see the whole thing, I will post the other 2 segments in the comment section. A friend of his took this video from the balcony. The video isn’t sharp, but the sound is good!
We heard this piece develop beginning last summer when Will decided to learn it after hearing the Chicago Symphony perform this at Wheaton with a Russian pianist. When Will decides to do something, all you can do is get out of the way. He would finish with his landscaping job where he worked hard all day, and then he would head straight to a church that let him use their grand piano to practice. He would return home at 11pm sometimes, not even having eaten dinner.
What I admire most in our son is his dogged tenacity and his work ethic. I have learned things watching him. This is a tremendously difficult piece of music. At times, it seemed like it would conquer him. But he kept at it, and ultimately, conquered it. That’s the spirit we all need. Never give up. Tomorrow comes the music! +Soli Deo Gloria+
My songbird was up early and cheered my heart today. This is what she sang out in the kitchen in the first stanza. (She’s learning this at school.) There is good counsel in this hymn, written in 1734, Stanza 3 is particularly fitting today with all the fear and tumult on the political scene in our country.
With the Lord begin your task;
Jesus will direct it.
For his aid and counsel ask;
Jesus will perfect it.
Every morn with Jesus rise,
And when day is ended,
In his name then close your eyes;
Be to him commended.
Let each day begin with prayer,
Praise, and adoration.
On the Lord cast every care;
He is your salvation.
Morning, evening, and at night
Jesus will be near you,
Save you from the tempter’s might,
With his presence cheer you.
With the Savior at your side,
Foes need not alarm you;
In his promises confide,
And no ill can harm you.
All your trust and hope repose
In the mighty master,
Who in wisdom truly knows
How to stem disaster.
If your task by thus begun
With the Savior’s blessing,
Safely then your course will run,
Toward the promise pressing.
Good will follow every where
While you here must wander.
You at last the joy will share
In the mansions yonder.
Hymn # 483
Author: Peter Frank
Tune: Fang Dein Werk
1st Published in: 1734
Once in a while I treat Emily to the breakfast sandwiches she loves at a local McDonald’s. (I am making quite a confession here!) On a school morning, if we leave by 7am, we have plenty of time to sit in the parking lot while she munches away and we talk.
There’s a middle-aged man who works in the drive-through who is there every time on that shift. We sometimes get him on the speaker when we order and, he’s there either in the money window or the pick-up window. Emily always notices. “Mom, he’s always so cheerful.” He is. He comes across always as professional, courteous and warm sounding. That is a rare thing in the service industry. So he stood out, even to my young daughter.
Today was one of our drive-through mornings and there he was. As I took the bag, I told him my daughter calls him “the cheerful guy.” His face broke out in a huge smile. “Well, thank you, that means a lot!” he said.
People like him stand out, because there’s anger everywhere right now, and it’s catching. I feel it catching hold of me thanks to the constant drum beat of terrible things that frankly, we can do little about. Yes, we are in bad times as a country, but that’s why when you find a cheerful person in your small part of the world, or somebody who smiles when they don’t have to, who treats you kindly, they shine like a bright light.
It isn’t easy to be cheerful. I think of the man in the drive-through and having to deal with the public all the time. People can be really ugly. Really ugly. But he somehow manages to come across as cheerful anyway.
Here’s to all the cheerful guys and gals who do their best at their jobs, whatever they may be, and treat others well. Whatever your employment, caring about excellence and caring about people is an awesome and rare trait to have. You are a blessing, and you are noticed!
(As a P.S., letting people know that you appreciate their cheerfulness may brighten their day. You just never know!)
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
My husband is a professional trumpet player and for 21 years, he has called from intermissions at orchestra concerts, ballets and shows he’s playing at night to help support our family. I look at the clock and know right when the phone will go off and I’ll hear his voice. “Hi, Ing…”
Related to the post below about the apocalyptic election scene, I offer this article: Alexander Solzhenitsyn: The Courage to Be a Christian, by Joseph Pearce. An excerpt:
As we await the fall of the Obamanation, we need to remember that the culture of death is a parasite. It does not give life; it only destroys or corrupts it. Like all successful parasites, it kills itself when it kills the host culture on which it feeds. It is not merely deadly but suicidal. It is unsustainable. It cannot survive. Let’s not forget that Hitler’s promise of a Thousand Year Reich lasted only twelve years. In a similar vein, the communist revolution which according to Marx would usher in the end of history, is itself a ruined remnant of history. Little could Solzhenitsyn have known when he languished as one of the many millions in the Soviet prison system that he would outlive the Soviet system and, furthermore, that his own courage would play an important part in that very system’s collapse.
There are so many voices warning of the direction our country is headed. But nobody reads anymore, history instruction is a joke, as is much of “higher education. This is why history always repeats itself. Wise people listen to those who have gone on before, and they learn from it.
In a post below, I mentioned a recent article about mothers with regrets about having children. An article today on Stream.org highlights the piece and the tragic women led to believe life is all about them. Here’s the piece for anyone interested.
A recent article on a UK site shared anonymous thoughts of mothers who reportedly had regrets about parenthood. Reading through the comments, the mentality of the mothers involved provided insight into the self-centered and narcissistic culture we have now. One new mom wrote that she now “hated” her life. The demands of an infant, night and day, ruled her life. No longer could she take off for yoga and pilates, spray tans, coffee dates with friends , or hair highlighting without cumbersome logistical issues of child care, and she resented it like crazy.
The remarks of these mothers made me fear for the babies and toddlers involved. No child is safe, physically or emotionally, in an environment where a mother is so absorbed with herself that she actively resents the existence of her own child.
The needs of children are intense and immediate. There is no doubt about that. I was first introduced to that at the age of 20. As I have said before, it was the making of me. Holding my little son, Charlie, I knew life wasn’t about me anymore. When you love your child, your happiness, your well being is tied up inextricably with theirs. You are held captive by that love. And that’s how it is supposed to be. That’s how babies can know the nurture and protection that they need.
Younger generations are not made of the sterner stuff previous generations of mothers had. I mean that sincerely. I frequently see memes and comments on social media about how kids drive moms to drink, how wine play dates are essential for moms, how kids are always out of control and how that’s the norm and how all parents can do is hunker down and try to endure.
While it’s true that parenthood isn’t orderly and predictable and motherhood is filled with challenges that can seem overwhelming, I reflect on how difficult, by comparison, our mothers and grandmothers had it. It is helpful to have that perspective. My mother had no disposable diapers, no wipes, no electric dryer, a ringer washer someone left behind in the flat they rented (she had to go down two flights of steep stairs to a dank basement to use the washer and peg out the diapers and clothes in winter), and had no air conditioned minivan or home, no dishwasher or microwave, no counter tops in her kitchen, no wealth of toys and clothes. She made do, many, many times. That’s what moms did back then when they had to.
Then there was her mother who had 8 children, beginning in the Great Depression years that lingered in the Ozarks where she grew up, long after the rest of the country was in recovery economically. Grandma washed diapers on a wash board. She washed all the clothes on a washboard after getting water outside from a pump. They had no running water or indoor plumbing. She had no cribs for her babies, one slept in a dresser drawer. I could go on and on with the difficulty of mothering in that era in America. As for white privilege, that nonsense term that is so popular now, that is an insulting joke. There was no such thing for my relatives.
So when I hear sleek, young mothers with smartphones and selfies on Instagram and all the conveniences known today complaining about how they are up every two hours (for a few brief weeks) and how they need alcohol to cope, I feel sorry for them. They have no idea.
I feel sorry for these mothers because they don’t know how quickly it all goes. It’s a blink of an eye and it’s over, all those moments where you can savor the sweet smell of your baby or toddler’s head, all the times you hold those dear little bodies close to you when they need comfort, all the times you are needed and wanted by your child.
Our youngest who was born when I was 42 and my husband, 51, is a young lady now in second grade. I get choked up when I remember our many walks when she was little. I even wrote about them here on the blog, and realize how she has grown up since then. In my mind’s eye, I can see her dancing down the sidewalk in front of me, singing the little songs she always made up, asking about the flowers and birds and houses we passed. I can see the highlights the sun showed in her hair on a beautiful summer morning. I can see her running, always trying to catch a robin, but never quite succeeding.
We talked about so many things on those walks, God, nature, life. And now, she is a big girl of 7 with long legs, growing ever taller. I just saw a photo of Emmy last year at this time, and I could not believe the change in her. That is as it should be, but the question always lingers, did I savor those days enough, or did I get lost in the work of it all and miss what was passing by? Am I savoring her now, at this stage? Or am I letting fatigue let me wish this phase away?
I came across this beautiful post from another blogger at Finding Joy. I want to share it with you. If you were once a young mother or are now a young mother, it affirms the value of what we do as moms, day in and day out. It’s not in the Pinterest-y moments of crafting and fancy homemaking that our worth is established, but in nights when a small, hot hand touches our faces and our child is sick with fever and in need of us. it’s in the walks, the talks, the meals we make and the daily care we provide. We weave the fabric of our children’s emotional and physical health by being there and caring. It’s a tapestry that only we can weave.
God bless you mothers who understand this and don’t listen to the siren song of popular culture that perpetually devalues mothers’ sacrifices and instead celebrates moms who outsource that role to achieve “greater” things. Reject the lie of popular culture and embrace your child while you can. They are gone before you know it.