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What is a Vapid Narcissist?

26 Sep

What is a Vapid Narcissist?

I have been dialoging with a precious friend who is doing this year what I did last year–losing 100 pounds.

She wrote something fascinating in her blog this week, something timely that gave me pause to think.

She has been focusing on the idolatrous affair our society can have with food. And, looking ahead to when she has finished her weight loss, she asks, “What next?”

She wisely does not want to switch from one idolatry to another, so she wants to avoid switching her worship from food to clothes or makeup or just the satisfaction of seeing a small body in the mirror.

She used the phrase “vapid narcissist” to describe what she most of all does not wish to become.

That phrase both startled me and pleased me. It was both expected and unexpected at the same time.

You see, when you grow up in certain sectors of our society, that is the first thing you think of when you think of having a small, visually lovely body: “How many ways can I misuse my newfound freedom from obesity?”

And, while I agree with John Calvin when he said that the human heart is an idol factory, I have come to the point where my greatest fear is no longer how I will misuse my thinness. My greatest fear is misrepresenting God’s grace in all of this. And I struggle with that constantly because there is so much I don’t know, both about God and about this world He has made and how His principles interact with it.

Lately I cling to the verse that says He has freely given us all things to enjoy. In fact, if He leaves something open in His Word and does not address it one way or the other, I have been consciously trying to not argue from silence. If He does not forbid someone from doing something, neither do I. I leave that as a matter for each man’s conscience. It is not as easy to do as it sounds.

For example, the enclosed link would sum up about everything I believe about narcissism (a secular term, thus a secular article).

I don’t believe anymore (as I did while I was being raised by one of the most frugal mothers on earth) that owning and wearing pretty clothes automatically indicates that someone is vain.

With God, it is so much more complicated than that, since God looks on the heart. Some of us can be totally given over to nice clothes (or nice makeup or nice jewelry) to the point we don’t even see Him or His work in our lives. Yet someone else can have just as many nice things to put on, yet without the slightest tint of idolatry.

Vapidness means emptiness. Narcissism means putting myself at the center of everything as though other human beings were mere things to operate for my convenience.

So what is it when a group of ladies, out with their husbands, converges on the ladies’ room for giggling conversations, while adjusting their lovely dresses over their trim figures? Is it empty and selfish when they emerge from that ladies’ room and bask in the appreciative looks of their own husbands?

Ya know, I don’t think it is.

If I am dressed up and fellowshipping with my similarly dressed up girlfriends, then enjoying the healthy appreciation of my husband’s eyes, that may very well be one way of seeing how God has richly given me all things to enjoy.

Narcissists separate themselves from others, feeling special. If I am giggling with my girlfriends, enjoying how lovely we all look, then that is not narcissism.

If I am flirting with the husband God has given me, that is not emptiness.

I only point this out because we can tend to act as though God is the big spoilsport in the sky. We can unconsciously kill every buzz life gives us, lest God see us having a good time and move in to squash us like a bug. Only, that would not be a loving God. That would be a monster.

Oh, yes, we certainly need to avoid becoming a vapid narcissist when we lose weight, or at any other time. But we need to make sure we define the term accurately, too.

For some of us who have been raised with values that tend toward Puritanism, those definitions can make all the difference.

Not to discredit the accomplishments of the Puritans, but no age was a golden age.

In every age, the idea is to walk closely with the Lord and feel His pleasure in our relationship with Him.

The Father really is as good as Jesus said He is!!!

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2 Responses to “What is a Vapid Narcissist?”

  1. Mary Gardner Martin September 30, 2013 at 8:25 AM #

    Reblogged this on iconobaptist and commented:

    This is a reblog of my own post from Friday about vapid narcissism. It is so important that we use accurate words to communicate with each other, especially when communicating about spiritual truths. So I studied those two words and walked them out . . .
    A further thought I had, leading to this second part to the post, was how often we try to convince people that we accept them in all shapes and sizes, because God accepts them in all shapes and sizes. We bend over backwards to do this after weight loss, both for the sake of the Kingdom but also because we do not want to be mistaken for one of those vapid narcissists who only value people for their thinness.
    However, I think a mistake we make is to turn around and loudly run ourselves down for the years we spent in an overweight condition, even holding up our previous pictures for ridicule.
    What does that say to the person struggling with weight issues? What if I ridicule a picture of myself at 260 pounds in front of a 300 pound woman? Am I showing her grace or condemnation? I think the latter.
    I have always been careful to bring a much-loved portrait of Noel and me when I was at 260 pounds to show as my “before” picture at Weight Watchers. I emphasize that that was still a beautiful woman and I am still the same person. I think it is important to do that for the sake of the women before me struggling with morbid obesity. I also think it is important to do that for the sake of my own integrity. I am still that same person. And I could regain weight someday. I hope I will not, but it could happen. No promises in life. Steroids for chemotherapy put on 40 of my pounds!
    It is counterintuitive, isn’t it? You would think I was more spiritual for distancing myself from the 260-pound Mary, but, in the end, identifying with the 260-pound Mary is where I find my spiritual growth.
    We all are fallen and desperately broken. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Jeremiah, speaking for the Lord, told us that. So, in embracing the fact that I have fallen and can only get up by the work of a wonderful Saviour in my life, Jesus Christ, I become most fully the person He created me to be!
    And in pronouncing a picture of a 260-pound woman beautiful, me in my former state, I don’t become a vapid narcissist, but a beacon of hope for others who struggle.
    Amen and amen!
    Amen and amen!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What is a Vapid Narcissist, Part II | iconobaptist - September 30, 2013

    […] What is a Vapid Narcissist, Part II […]

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