After surviving narcissistic abuse at the hands of parents, when victims turn to God, many struggle with feeling that God truly loves them. It’s not that they think God is a liar or they doubt what the Bible says. Many have strong faith & believe every word in the Bible to be the word of God. They also believe that God loves & forgives other people. Yet, they struggle believing this is true for them. This is because of the narcissistic abuse they endured.
Narcissistic abuse at any age by any person is a terrible thing, but it seems to have the most profound effect on those who grew up with narcissistic parents. Children look to their parents to be their everything – their source of love, nurturing, food, shelter & more. Basically parents are like a god to children. When that “god” is abusive, it distorts a person’s reality terribly. One of those ways is making them believe that authority figures aren’t trustworthy, even God.
Not to mention, children’s brains aren’t fully developed. This means they process things differently than adults do. Adults realize that someone being abusive towards them doesn’t mean something is wrong with them. It means something is wrong with the abusive person. Children don’t realize that. They think when someone abuses them, in particular a parent, that means something must be wrong with them to make that parent treat them badly. This is a huge blow to one’s self esteem, & makes them believe they are unlovable.
When that child grows up & decides to turn their life over to God, that doesn’t mean their dysfunction vanishes. That dysfunction is still a part of their life, & it will show up in their relationship with God.
Although that adult child may truly love God, chances are excellent that he or she doesn’t completely trust God. God being a father figure means that people relate to Him as they did their earthly father. That relationship automatically starts out mirroring the relationship a person has with their earthly father, good or bad. This is a wonderful thing for those with great relationships with their father. It’s a terrible thing for those with dysfunctional or even abusive relationships with their father. They may love God, but fail to trust Him completely, exactly as they did their earthly father.
People also relate to God as a child relates to a parent in many ways. The abused child as an adult will relate to God as they did when they related to their parents when they were children. If they felt that they were unlovable as children, they will struggle to believe God loves them. After all, if a person’s own parents didn’t love them, how could anyone else, including God, right? WRONG!
Although it can be extremely hard to believe for a child of narcissistic parents, God does love you & He also forgives you for everything! It seems impossible, but it’s true.
If you are struggling in this area, the best thing I know to tell you to do is to get to know God even better. I don’t care if you’ve been a Christian for 50 years, do it anyway! Spend time in prayer, ask Him to talk to you then listen to what He says, read the Bible, read books, listen to Christian music.. whatever helps you feel closer to your Heavenly Father, do it. The more you get to know Him, the more you will realize He truly does love you & forgive you. Psalm 27:10 is one of my favorite Bible verses, & is an excellent one to remember. It says that although my parents forsake me, God will adopt me. Isn’t that amazing?! Clearly He loves you so much more than you realize, & His love for you will never change!
4 responses to “Struggling To Feel Loved By God After Narcissistic Abuse”
Cynthia, we all need sources of comfort. I would suggest the person seek counsel from professional help and avoid speaking with ministers for mental health type counsel. I have met some wonderful ministers in my time and they are the kinds of people you want worship with and get counsel from. I have also seen a few who take the scriptures of a wife obeying a husband too literally. If the narcissist or DV abuser is the husband, I am aware of ministers who have counseled the victim on being a better wife to avoid such treatment. No one, repeat no one, deserves this kind of treatment, no matter who perpetrates it. If I took this down a different path than you wanted, please feel free to delete my comment. Keith
Not deleting at all. Your comment is wise & I totally agree about pastoral counselors. I think if someone wants to see anyone in a position of pastor, minister, etc.as their counselor, they should be looked at like any other counselor. Does what this person say make sense? It it helpful to me? Can this person help me to learn, grow, heal? The only difference is they should also consider what spiritual things the person says.. if they don’t coincide with the Bible, it’s time to find someone else.
Anyone who tells an abused wife to obey her husband is saying only a part of that Scripture. They’re not mentioning what the role of husbands is, & that is unfair. If someone in a counseling position or church leadership role only quotes a part of Scripture, that is a giant red flag possibly also with neon flashing lights, but especially if it means subjecting someone to abuse.
Cynthia, I love your well-reasoned response. I hope people read your comment as well as your post. Take care, Keith
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You’re very kind.. thank you!