Perspective: Pastor’s Corner
I am just now concluding that narcissism is a virus that has infected everybody in the world that is breathing air. I even apply this to my own life with a great deal of regret.
Nobody wants to admit they have narcissistic leanings in their life. And yet, if you listen to them, and even listen to yourself, you will see it. I did not know how aggravating it was, but I was to learn pretty soon.
Recently I had a heart attack and had a stent put in one of my arteries, the widowmaker. It was this experience that showed me the level of narcissism in my own life.
When anybody would call me and ask how I was, I would mention that I recently had a heart attack and had a stent inserted in one of my arteries. Before I can even get to the end of that sentence, the person on the other end of the line will say, “Oh, a couple of years ago, I had a heart attack and had two stents put in.” And then they would go on and on and on about their condition and experience.
When I thought we had come to the end of that conversation, they then mentioned, “And I have a cousin who had a heart attack and had several stents put in him I can’t remember how many.” Then, were all down another rabbit trail. I sure would like to catch that rabbit.
Coming to the end of this conversation, I said, “Well, I hope you’re doing well.” To which I got the reply, “Thank you, I appreciate that.”
Hanging up the phone, I thought a bit that the person on the other end of the phone did not allow me to tell my story.
For me, this heart attack was quite an experience that I never expected to experience. I know my father had several heart attacks, but I never assumed he had willed it to me. It’s during these times that you think seriously about dying.
I have been tempted to spread the rumor that I won the million-dollar lottery for the week. Once that got out, I would get all kinds of calls to hear my million dollars’ story. But, of course, I know that they would want to be put on my Christmas list.
The discouraging point is nobody wanted to know the story of my heart attack. My heart attack was an opportunity for them to brag, or so it seemed, about their heart attack or their uncle’s heart attack or somebody else’s.
After going through a heart attack why do I want to hear about someone else’s heart attack and how they got through it.
Of course, that is my narcissism coming to the surface. I want everything to be about me and center on my life. I’m not sure what to do or how to deal with this narcissistic virus that seems to be penetrating my life.
I don’t think I will bring this up with my doctor the next time I visit him. I suspect he would send me to his psychology friend, and I certainly don’t want that kind of examination. I don’t think I could pass.
The one thing I have learned about this narcissistic virus is that there comes a point where it explodes. I didn’t know that before, but I found out just recently.
Another friend called and asked about me, and I said I just had a heart attack and had a stent implanted in my artery. Again, before I could get to the end of that sentence, they began explaining how they also had a heart attack several years ago, and they had four stents put in. Then they went on and on about their heart attack and how it changed their life, and what they did to keep from having another one.
I don’t know what triggered my explosion, but all of a sudden, I heard myself saying, “Hey, stop right there. This is my heart attack, not yours. This is my story, not yours.”
Then without hesitating, I went into my story in every detail I could think of at the time. I only wished I had recorded it so I could know what I actually said.
Just before I hung up, the person on the other end said, “Well, I’ll be praying for you, and I hope you get better.” Then there was that infamous “click.” And the conversation was over.
I hung up the phone and turned around only to see the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage staring at me with one of her “stares,” and I heard her say, “What in the world did you just say?”
At that moment, I knew I was in for some trouble, so I said, “I’m not sure; what did I say?”
I knew she would tell me what I said, so I didn’t need a recording of it. But I kind of lost control because of that narcissistic virus that has infected me.
A verse of Scripture came to my mind at this time. “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Probably the hardest thing in this verse is when Jesus says “Let him deny himself.” My narcissistic virus fights against that all the time.
Dr. James L. Snyder
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship in Ocala, Fla. where he lives with his wife. Call him at (352) 216-3025 or email email@example.com. The church website is www.whatafellowship.com.