Volume 12 Week 5

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Mortgages and
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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette


Survivor, yes
Superhero, hardly


Growing up I always wanted people to look up to me. Between being heavily involved in church sunday schools, worship leading, and baby-sitting young ladies, I wanted to be some kind of role model. I wanted parents and my peers to think I was good. Pure, even. I took pride in the comments other parents made to my parents and I wanted it to be like that forever. It was like crack cocaine and I was hooked.

But nobody mentioned how tiring it is having people look up to you, or how scary it is. Nobody really talks about the fact that you’ll have days where you wonder if you can survive for yourself, let alone for those watching on the sidelines.

People call me a survivor.

I get pictures and quotes sent to me and they tell me I inspire them.

But sometimes I fear people may look at me and think, “If she can do it, or survive it, then so can I.” And I fear that if I slip, or give up, or do not survive it, they’ll then believe that neither can they.

It’s a terrifying thought.

Because I want to be a survivor. And the thought of others considering me a survivor is not a horrible one.

But even through my heart-wrenching transparency, there is still so much unseen by the outside world.

I don’t really want people to look up to me. I don’t really want people so see me as a role model or their life inspiration. Ideally, I’d prefer to walk side by side with people. Not run a race where everyone else is just on the sidelines. I’d rather us be honest with each other, and tell each other we don’t have our ish together. I’d rather you know that yeah, I had depression and suicidal tendencies years ago and now I’m in a good, happy, healthy place and I consider myself an overcomer, but I still deal with nights where I don’t trust myself not to cause self-harm and I bawl in a parking lot because sometimes things suck.

I don’t want to be on a pedestal because the higher the pedestal I am put on by others, the farther down I will inevitably fall. Because I’m just a human who still fights against the demon of PTSD and sometimes depression tries to find its way back into my life and most days I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m on a journey that forces me to humble myself daily and it’s continuously a wild ride.

I’m not really a role model.

I have no desire to portray a dishonest, better version of myself online or to other people in general.

And I have no issue reconciling this with calling myself a follower of Christ because contrary to the preaching I receive via FB messages from people who have never even invested in my life, we are not called to be perfect. We are not called to maintain a high reputation and put up a front of goodness that is half true at best.

We are called to care for the widow and orphan. We are called to be peacemakers. We are called to be reconcilers. We are called to love without condition, without a hint of buts or ifs. We are called to take care of ourselves. We are called to provide for those in need and look after the least of these.

This is the important work of the gospel and what Jesus ultimately stood for as he walked this messy little earth.

So if we wish for a reputation, that is the one I believe we should have.

That is the only reputation I care for, if I must have one.

I don’t have a high concern for swearing or piercings or ink or midriff.

And so, because I am not too naive to think we can avoid reputations altogether, nor can we truly forfeit being role models or inspirations to some, if I must have someone look up to me, may it be for my fight for justice. For my vulnerability and honesty. May it be for my daily choice to fight against the demons that haunt me.

But may it never be to a point where they think if I can’t do it, neither can they.

When I one day stand before God, I don’t plan on receiving rewards for having a flawless vocabulary and for always wearing 10inch-from-the-middle-seam shorts and avoiding spaghetti straps. (?!?! I’ll never get that rule.) I don’t plan on having a conversation where there’s a large focus on my lack of sunday church attendance or the fact that I didn’t have a thing against alcohol. And I certainly don’t expect to receive praise or honor for being what we’ve ultimately turned into an idol–the Proverbs 31 woman.

I’ve always hated the whole “there are more important things” idea because it’s generally used to silence marginalized people, but honestly, while we’re policing people’s tones and clothing and language and choices of friends we are consequently ignoring legitimate life threatening issues like mental health and sexual abuse and systemic racism/ discrimination. Innocent black men and women are getting shot. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before they turn 18, so pardon me if that makes me say some colourful words. I don’t know how it doesn’t make everyone on God’s green earth righteously pissed off. Women are still experiencing harassment daily from co-workers, friends, family, and strangers in the street at an atrocious rate. Gay people are constantly having their worth, dignity and rights debated among people who have never cared enough to ask them their stories let alone their names.

They say tragic experiences in your life force you to focus on the more important things in life, and I suppose you could say that happened to me. I wish you didn’t have to go through hell and back to recognize how much we’re fighting about/for is entirely insignificant, but it seems to be the case a lot of the time.

This is where my fight has brought me. It was brought me to a place where I can’t fight for people’s approval because I would have to die trying. It has brought me to a place where I no longer get the public acceptance and praise of most fellow Christians because many think I’ve fallen off the deep end. And I’m 100% okay with that.

But I have found myself and my Jesus in the dirty groundwork of fighting for a better future for my future kids, and for my brothers and cousins and the little girls I used to babysit. And from this point on I pray to God there will forevermore be dirt under my fingernails as I give all I have to pave a better way for myself and others.

If I must have a reputation, let it be for that and that alone.

Hell yes, I am a survivor. But I am no superhero.

(Rebekah Richardson is a young up and coming writer and contributor to OrleansOnline.ca. She has a regular blog which can be found at www.withhishands.ca.)


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