So here’s the surprising, paradoxical truth that I’ve come to know: I’m not a victim. Christ has conquered death once and for all. I am owed nothing. The air filling my lungs, every breath, a gift I could never merit. The Spirit filling my depths… this gratitude for God, may it never leave me. May my Guardian Angel always remind me.
I’m not a victim. I’m a daughter of a King, given more than the world and every treasure within it.
Getting The Oppressors Wrong
But I am a victim, too. We all are. We’ve just gotten the oppressors wrong.
Feminism told me that I was a victim of the oppressive patriarchy. That my gender had been oppressed by men for all of history, until a bunch of spoiled rich ladies came to our rescue (it’s laughable, but that’s Marxist-feminist education – and the cultural tentacles it has spawned – for you) and taught us what freedom is.
Left-wing politics told me that I’m a victim of the rich. That unless the government controls half of our wealth through taxation, the poor will starve, no one will be educated, and I’ll be a horrible human being without compassion.
Modernist philosophy and the “New Atheism” told me I’m a victim of religous people following their religion, that unless I become a “free thinker” I will never be able to really learn anything.
Contemporary art, fashion, and beauty culture told me I’m a victim of societal beauty standards. Unrealistic expectations not to eat myself to obesity, to smile, to put a basic amount of effort into being a pleasant sight to the eyes of evil objectifying men.
“Victim Mentality” and the Real Oppressor
Is it any wonder I despised the title of “victim”? That I would never stake such a claim in any area? Is it any wonder I hated ceding the slightest possible weakness in myself, that I might come across as having a “victim mentality”? That this mentality would increase in me after my conversion, because I have been given so much and should be thankful at every possible second, and never feel any sorrow or utter any complaint?
But I was wrong. I am wrong, because I’m still learning, still trying to let our Lord teach me.
I am a victim, sometimes, because there is an oppressor. A real one. An evil one. A powerful one. His name is Satan, and he has armies, and they really exist in our spiritual lives. They hate us, they hate when we love God, they hate when we conquer them.
And it took me learning that I had an enemy, a violent oppressor, to be able to fight back. To fight back with spiritual warfare. To fight back the desolation and loneliness that I feel in my life more often than I feel strong admitting.
The Error that Apes Humility
This prideful idea that I could never be a victim, when my Lord and Saviour humbled Himself to be the sacrificial victim in order to conquer death and atone for my sin, is an error. It’s an error I have more or less clung to through every bit of growth. A non-truth I had thought was true. Self-evident.
An ape of humility.
I thought I understood the science of the Cross. The miracle of suffering. I learned to offer it up, and I watched the subsequent Graces shape me from the inside out. Yet, this morning, while reflecting on the Joyful Mystery of the Birth of Jesus Christ, another piece of the puzzle fell into place.
We cannot have the victory of Christ without the humble victimhood of Christ.
The Devil Hates Me
I cannot reject the false victim complex of the world – the worldview that tells me I am not born for greatness, that I am not worthy, that I am being trampled upon, that anything good I have is because of unearned privilege – without accepting the genuine victimhood that I experience as an enemy of the Devil.
Maybe I have to learn to accept the thorn, the original sin, the victimhood, of being a small creature hated by the sly legions of the Enemy, that has been my birthright since my broken mother Eve tasted the fruit.
But that does not mean I’m taking on more pain. That does not mean I’m being asked to carry more than I can hold. The story of Salvation involves a brutal crucifixion – but it ends in resurrection and eternal joy.
I know how my story ends, and I can sing in praise, unending: anything good I have is because I am victorious by Christ. I will not bind the Lord’s promises, I will ask for them, boldly, for I am a daughter of the King.
May the Lord humble me to victimhood – but only so that his victory may reign in me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stefanie Nicholas, 26, lives in Ontario, Canada. Growing up, she was primarily surrounded by the hippie-granola-Buddha-yoga-crystals-co operative board game homeschooling crowd. Today she is a divorced single mother who became Catholic at Easter 2018.