Savior Complex Needs to Die
Follow Maria on Instagram at @renegadesister
She describes herself as an uprooted evangelical rhetor, writer, & liturgist trying to pay attention to where the healing starts, holding tensions that weave bridges. Read what she has to say about patriarchy, how to expose some of its subtle manifestations, and how to get rid of its abusive grip and reclaim your own power and boundaries.
This article was first published on her blog.
For my entire life, people —mostly men, mostly Christians — told me they were there to protect me. But what “protecting” actually did was strip me of the capabilities I was born with: to be a leader. To be aggressive in a good way. To take a lot of risks.
Instead I had to perform as a weak woman, so that my “protectors” felt like THEY had worth and identity — one that revolved around my powerlessness. A savior complex that stole my agency from me and also stole the gifts I had to offer the world right at the root: instead of nurturing and cultivating my talents, my creative energy, my useful oddities, I had to bury them.
I’ve never needed protectors. I’ve needed people to advocate for my selfhood and my thriving. I am still grieving how I allowed myself to stay in a place of self-imposed powerlessness (the more powerless, the more lauded I was by others) because “bible” because “god” and because of my own fear and desire for the APPROVAL of those who said they spoke for god.
Savior complex doesn’t save anyone. It enables lack of responsibility on all fronts.
Real protectors empower people and delight in their wholeness.
Unless the church can redefine what it means to protect and save, and allow it to include the consciousness, desires, and boundaries of the beings they are “protecting,” it will continue to be an inherently abusive place.
If the church can’t, maybe YOU can, mamas. Women. Humans who have been sitting with cognitive dissonance in the church for a long time, who sense that all is not well in their spirits and in the body of Christ.
This doesn’t necessarily mean tearing down truth constructs or belief systems. It might mean that, at some point — but remember? There is no fear in love. We can explore the immensity of truth without flinching when something doesn’t match what we think we know.
And our bodies know.
I’ve expressed so much anger and pain and longing in public spaces in the last year. I, like many other women, current laity, and post-Christians have a deep desire to be advocated for and protected by the people who claimed that’s what they are supposed to be doing. I waver about who my audience is supposed to be because I still desperately long for those “protectors” to come through on their word! I want them to listen. I want them to CARE. I want them to have the basic human empathy of hearing a human has been harmed and their eyes to fill with tears because someone they care about is hurting.
But I have discovered this is not the case. More often than not, there is a desperate need to be right, to be defensive, and to be dismissive.
Finding out your protectors care more about their ego than your pain is one of the most terrifying realities I’ve experienced to this point.
But I can’t beg for something that people can’t offer. I can only remove myself with boundaries. I can do the work to reclaim what has been taken. I can lean into the fact that I am valuable and needed, which creates space for me to advocate for others’ value and necessity too.
That’s a whole new ball game…because it means I don’t have to feel jealous when marginalized voices come to the fore. It means I don’t need to get defensive when I am called out for harm — (because I’m keenly aware of the fact that one of my only lack of privilege is the fact that I am a woman.) I can empower others because it doesn’t chip away at my very identity and worth, even if it’s uncomfortable or even sacrificial at times.
I can also keep telling the truth.
This is vulnerable for me to share, but I am choosing to because this is a needed conversation…and I have a feeling I’m not alone in this experience.
What’s your story? In the service of healing, in the service of repair, in the service of “setting the captives free” in every blooming sense of the word, you are a welcome voice in this conversation: how have your “protectors” contributed to your thriving, or stolen that opportunity from you?