Detachment: A Response to Narcissism.

Detachment.
It’s not a dirty word.
But it sounds like one to some people. When they hear the word detachment, they think of coldness or abandonment.
And while detachment may sometimes involve physically walking away from a situation, it actually has more to do with the way we allow our emotions to be engaged by someone else’s behavior and choices.

Detachment is not a dirty word.

One of Webster’s definitions for the word detachment is
the state of being objective.
Being objective means using sound judgement, being impartial in the assessment of a situation and facts.
Those are good things.
Objectivity is wisdom.
Detachment is not coldness or abandonment. Detachment is wisdom.

If I hadn’t learned to detach emotionally from abusive personalities, I would never have done the things I needed to do–protect my kids, nurture my marriage, invest in my own physical health.

Detachment is wisdom.

 

I would not enjoy anything about life. Nothing.

I would be constantly questioning myself. I would feel tremendous unwarranted shame. I would be filled with latent rage and anxiety. I would be physically sick.

I would feel dead inside.

And I would have let those people do it to me, and in my permission, I would have been complicit.

If I had not detached emotionally from their issues, if I had not said, “You can do that if you want to, but I’m not going there. I’ll be over here. I’ll always be here. I’ll always love you. But I am not going down that road with you. Your choice,” if I had not said no, I would have been saying yes to the lies, the cruelty, the insanity, the neglect–all the abuse.

Detachment says, “I’m not going to be your partner in crazy. I’m not going to participate. I’m not cooperating with your efforts to hurt us both. I’m going to do the opposite. I’m going to detach so that I don’t pour fuel on your fire, into your vehicle of madness. And not only that, I’m going to detach so that you get to see detachment modeled. Calm in the face of circumstance, I’m going to model it for you.”

And even more importantly, detachment says, “I’m not going to respond in kind to emotion or manipulation. I’m not going to put a spell on you by employing my gifts to anesthetize you. In fact, I’m going to do the opposite. I’m going to put a hold on the flow of my gifts so that I don’t stand in as a substitute for what you really need—JESUS. I’m going to unplug so that you can encounter the Lord and receive ministry from Him.”

If I had not detached, I would have been saying “yes” to the abuse.

 

Detachment lets people know that we are not their god, and we will not play God for them in any way.

When I had kids, I saw the things people did and had done in a different light. The kids needed to be protected—spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Detachment says, “I’m not going to be your partner in crazy.”

 

It made me see that I should have been protected too.

But because I was not protected, I realized that, as an adult, I had work to do.

I had to learn to become a protector of any seed of God, or anything God was trying to birth in me or around me. The kids, yes, but also the things in me that had never been given their day. I had destiny in me. I could feel it. But I didn’t lead with it, I didn’t know how to carry it.

So destiny got stuffed and apologized for until it came out in explosions of frustration in every direction, toward my children, toward my husband, toward myself, physical sickness, rage.

Detachment became a path out of the mess and into order. Detachment made a space for the things God wanted to do in and around me.

Detachment says, “I’m not going to play God for you.”

 

In Mark, Jesus corrects the Pharisees when they try to take everything the people have and leave them nothing to take care of their families. It is not right to drain someone and leave them empty when they have a territory to protect and provide for, even if we say it is for God.

Some people really want to work on themselves and change. They are reachable. They are teachable. They are the people that teachers call “little sponges.” They soak up everything you say and they apply it. These people can be needy and tiresome and hard to deal with—but you will see fruit. They are worth every bit of effort and time you pour into them. Your time with them is fruitful. The fruit is evidence that they are receiving you and that the time you’re spending with them is not wasted.

But not everyone responds to you in this way. Not everyone receives you. And even scripture tells us that this is their choice.

There are other kinds of relationships in our lives. There are people that want to bring you the same drama every day and use your energy to get them through the next half hour and never change anything—no matter how much time you spend praying, and listening, and offering advice and help and money, and on and on, and nothing ever changes—this is not fruitful.

There is an element of witchcraft involved in the drama of the people who bring that drama and never change.

There is no good fruit here.

Where there is never any fruit, I heard the Holy Spirit say one time, “The repetitive fruitless cycle is evidence that they are not receiving you.”

Where they don’t receive you, where they don’t receive the message of wisdom and true love and the soundness of the gospel, shake the dust off your feet and leave that house or that town.

I work hard and sacrifice every day to build what I’m building. My home is peaceful. It’s the first thing almost everyone says when they come in. That’s not by accident. My kids are well adjusted and on a good path. My marriage is happy and friendly and joyful and alive. We have our challenges, but I am doing things I’m meant to do, things I feel called to do.

If I let fruitless drama distract me from these things, I am trashing the calling on my life. I’m robbing my family of the things that they should get from me first. And it is not someone else’s fault if I let drama distract me; it is mine.

Loving people doesn’t mean doing whatever they want you to do, especially when it contradicts the thing God has asked you to do.

If I allow fruitless drama to bring distraction, I am trashing the calling on my life.

 

Eyes on One Thing. That’s all I have time for. Run with me, and I’ll run with you all day. Throw distractions at my feet, and I will detach so fast you won’t even see the vapor.

In the next post I’ll talk about the ways I discern  what God is showing me about detachment, when detachment is needed, and the different ways you can detach in different situations.

For now, I hope this post gives a new look at a healthy approach to dealing with narcissism and any abusive relationship.

Detachment is not a dirty word.

In fact, it is a tangible and fruitful expression of wisdom and a way to stay focused on the calling God has placed on your life.

***

Father, I pray for anyone in an abusive relationship to have eyes to see clearly what is happening. I pray for their ability to emotionally detach from the situation, to see it with Your eyes. Your ways are not our ways, and sometimes, the things You say are loving and unloving don’t make sense to human minds. Give us True Love for people and True Wisdom. Give us actions that actually do good rather than simply feeling good, actions that manifest Kingdom love versus some earthly imitation.

Help us know when to detach emotionally, those places where we can’t let our guard down because there is more going on than meets the eye. Help us feel Your release on detachment, to know it’s not cruel or mean to distance ourselves from a person so that we can both be closer to You, so that we hear Your voice louder than we hear each other.

And we pray for all the hurting people in our lives. We confess our tendencies to try to play God for people and want to fix it all. I pray that You show us how to get out of the way and let them encounter You directly, how to let them feel conviction that leads to change, how to let them feel Your love without us always having to be the conduit.

Let Your will be done and Your Kingdom come, in us and in all our relationships, as it is in Heaven. In Jesus’ name, amen.

You say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)—then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that. Mk 7:11-13

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Mt 10:14