You Might Be a Narcissist If {...our generation's journey away from self absorption...}

So I have done hours of hard research into this subject, partly to be equipped to deal with things in my personal life, partly to be equipped in the ministry.


Narcissus, in Greek mythology, fell in love with his own reflection.

Narcissism, in real life, is more rampant than we think.

In fact, a couple of years back, my research became uncomfortable for me at times. My own areas of woundedness and humanity began to be revealed to me.

I fell out of love with my reflection. It was a wonderful, bountiful dealing for my soul.

I remember once, being in a room with several women. There were items displayed on a table, and we were all looking. I noticed that a few of us were blocking another woman's line of sight. I murmured, "Let me get out of your way."

Someone else, I am not sure who, said, "Oops. My artistic side is showing. I am always
in my own world."
I remember my instant, inner, very quiet reaction. Without turning to see who spoke, I remember disagreeing, in that moment. And I still disagree. When I am being truly artistic, I am very aware of details and nuance. Far from being oblivious to subtleties, I am actually tuned into the smallest of lines and shadows.

So you might be a narcissist if:

~You lack a true awareness of others.

~If you are always feeling left out, or like you don't belong.

~if you experience being offended more than once or twice a year

~You manage to turn the conversation to yourself. Even someone else's prayer request can turn into your own bid for attention.

~If anyone in your life is made to feel as if they are not "enough" - cannot do enough, care enough, give enough...

~You genuinely believe you are "different" or "special". (This is where Christians can be the most guilty of veiled narcissism - God is respecter of persons.)

~You are an over-spender, or overly aware of the spending of others

~You are generous (yes! Many narcissists are givers...for the relational leverage, for the boost in self esteem, for an excuse to buy themselves what they want)

~If you routinely find fault in others

~Collect a large number of friends on Facebook.

~Put stock in Facebook "likes", and worse, compare them to those of someone else

~avoid Facebook entirely, denigrating it as not worth your time (!!). Healthy people are characterized by having no extremes.

~are hyper-spiritual about peripheral issues (God says this and that to you, always aboutyou), but you are easily offended, and lack true depth where it counts

~if you personalize almost everything

~if you pay undue attention to compliments

~if you take criticism personally

~if you are easily angered

~if you are jealous, always competing and comparing

~if you manipulate or punish with your emotions

~over-use of sarcasm

~if you gravitate to leadership positions (yep....many narcissists are leaders, but not all leaders are narcissists - or at least they are aware of the tendency and guard against it)

~if you have soft personal boundaries, becoming enmeshed in others drama

~if your own life generates drama, you are definitely a narcissist

For a very brief overview, go here

Or here

To be better equipped to battle narcissism in yourself, or set strong boundaries for more healthy relationships with the narcissists in your life, you can go deeper here

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

A Lenten Meditation {Why We Must Think Right About Others}

The Proverbs say "All the days of the afflicted are evil, but (s)he who has a merry heart has a continual feast."

This applies to everything. We often hear this verse applied to our attitude, but it also applies to our relationships. Even mind-science has a term for it...and it is a very real, measurable phenomenon...

...called confirmation bias. On a harmless level, if you begin to consider purchasing a Prius, you will suddenly see them everywhere. On a very harmful level, the negative things you choose to entertain about a spouse, friend, father or mother, you will easily find in them. Confirmation Bias. It is proven and measurable and we all have it.

If I tell myself my husband is a Witless Wonder, my mind will search for confirmation, and will find it.

If I tell myself my husband is wise, my mind will search for confirmation and will find it.                    

What you tell yourself directly affects your emotional well being.

What you tell yourself about others directly affects your relationships...which directly affects your well being.

All but the very least discerning in your circle knows if you are entertaining negativity about them. They can sense it.

Do you have a conscience? At all? Most Christians do. If you have a conscience, that is another big reason to think well of others. Your mind watches you. Your own mind registers every inner attitude, then measures it against what you say and do. When you demean someone with your words, and then you smile at them the next time you see them... are at odds, deep inside, if you have any conscience. Something will feel disingenuous. The worst thing you can do is blame the other person. They are not responsible for your perspective...or your emotions.

It is best to choose a perspective of respect at every opportunity - on the inside first. Let the hidden man of the heart begin to look for the praiseworthy in others. Your mouth will eventually speak life, from the overflow of your heart. That positive, happy, upbeat attitude of yours will make all your relationships feel like a Saturday morning...

...light. Sweet. Easy.

Confirmation Bias is a Biblical concept. Confirmation Bias exists in you, no matter what. Why not make it work FOR you, not against you?

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

Spring Decorating {Lent = He Gives Beauty For Ashes}

Every day is a celebration of grace.

But there is something so precious to me about the season leading up to Easter.

The season some recognize as "Lent".

Come on in, and let me try to show you how we celebrate this Holy Season.

The upper hooks are for mine and the Preacher's scarves and hats and such...

...the lower are for the G-babies' little things.

Winter evergreens are replaced by green grass, in the rusty metal bucket.

And the binoculars aren't for show. The Preacher is a rabid bird watcher.

{and the number 10 needs to be replaced by an 11. I just haven't carved the stamp.


::smile::More on that later.}

Fresh spring flowers are always to be enjoyed this time of year.

A table centerpiece of moss and candles, nestled in an antique drawer....

...celebrating spring, the Finished Work of the Cross,

and Him whose Life was the light of men (John chapter 1).

Pussywillow branches, an antique book whose title rejoices in

every new season, whatever it is. And original art. And light.

The new hallway Gallery Wall - full of original art by my son-in- well as yours truly.

This is a time for Christians to rejoice in Jesus,

{In Christ Alone My Hope is Found}

This is a time to observe the inauguration of the dispensation of

His grace;

 not a time to be wan and sad, not a time to look inward,

where perfection is never to be found.

He gives beauty for ashes.

Why not fill your home, heart, and relationships with beauty?

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

Action or Transaction? {The Friendships of Women}

What is life like in the other woman's boots?  Be interested...but not enmeshed.  Be open-handed, not tight fisted.  And above all...never...ever...try to write your name on the bottom of those boots of hers...

...your friend's boots.

She belongs to the Lord, first and foremost.  She also belongs to a handful of other people in her life called "husband", "daughter", "son", or "grandchild" or "mother".   She does not belong to you.

After all, isn't that what makes her so beautiful?  The fact that she works so hard to build authentic relationships with her beloveds, so that what she has to offer you, when she enfolds you into that circle, is something so genuine you feel inspired to go love on your beloveds - isn't that what makes her so special?

When you stop using her to feel better about yourself, you will finally be in a position to be a true friend to your girlfriend.  After all, relationship is about holding up a vision of the greatness of the other girl.

It is unconditional love - it is action, not transaction.

Hey.  You already know this, deep down.

Be genuinely interested in the success of someone else.  See life through her lens, walk a mile in her boots...because she is that incredible to you.  And remember:  interested women are irresistibly interesting.

Go love your friend into being her best self.  Ironically, you become your best self when you do.

This Message of Grace { is finally covering the whole earth...}

Here is a must read for you today.

I burn with holy satisfaction as I read.

Because there was a time when my preacher and I suffered for saying the same things. It was seen as a strange, off-center, "unbalanced" word.  The term "cult" was even whispered behind our backs, by those who'd declared themselves to be our fast friends, mere weeks earlier.

Not many others were preaching these things consistently or with any substantive passion.

Yet my Preacher was preaching this stuff...this grace stuff...the end of the law for all who a crazy man.


...heh, heh.

Ain't nothin' balanced about that.

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...

Recipe {Cooking For Two}

I have been cooking from this cookbook for some time now, and I cannot recommend it enough. Tonight, The Preacher and I enjoyed the most amazing chicken stew...

...hang with me, I promise it is incredible, and so worth it.

Put some brown rice on to boil. (The cookbook calls for the microwaveable steam bags of white rice, but this is only to keep it truly "One Pan, Two Plates". I don't mind the extra pan, because I love brown rice...)

Slice one leek, one rib of celery, and one carrot. Throw these in a hot-hot cast iron skillet, with olive oil. Toss in some thyme.

After sautéing the vegetables for a few minutes, place 4-6 chicken thighs in the pan and brown them.

Add the juice of two oranges, two cloves of garlic (chopped), and a can of organic diced tomatoes (we love Muir Glen brand), and some chopped parsley. Cover and simmer until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 30 minutes.

While the stew is simmering, zest one small orange (don't skip this, if you value your quality of life. I am only being a little dramatic...), and slice up some olives (1/3 cup). You will add them at the very end. Also, warm two shallow bowls in your oven.

Lay a fragrant bed of nutty, yummy brown rice...

...ladle on the stew...pour a glass of whatever you both love...


The Preacher gave this three thumbs up...'s a birth defect. Just kidding.

Grace and Peace,

Sheila Atchley

All blog content is the property of the writer, including all "In the Middle" intellectual and visual art property...