A few months ago I published a little booklet called We Are Real People. One of the points it makes is that we are not always given the opportunity to speak for ourselves.  Others speak for us, expressing our needs, speaking about us. But do they really know us or understand us? We need to develop a voice of our own, hoping and doing our best to be heard. It’s frustrating how often we speak, but are not heard or believed or understood. At least, I’ve found it so.

The booklet is available from https://marjabergen.com/books. The PDF can by downloaded at no charge.

Here’s the first piece in the book:

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.

Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.

Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT

“Speaking for the poor and helpless.” Is this what God really means? I think we need to be careful and think about that a little.

Not every oppressed or hurting person needs someone to speak for them all the time. Being voiceless should not be considered a permanent state. With support, the “poor and helpless” can grow—in health and in confidence. Perhaps we who live with mental health issues have too many people speaking for us, determining our needs, and not enough of them hearing our voices. Because we do have a voice of our own and we want to be heard.

Too often we’re not considered to have enough ability, credibility, and intellect to speak for ourselves. We’re not trusted enough to speak with wisdom. But we understand, better than anyone, what our needs are. We understand, better than anyone, what it’s like to be discriminated against, and we understand what pain that causes. We want to tell our stories. We want to be understood.

Is it our perceived lack of credibility that keeps us from being listened to? Some forget that for most of us our illnesses affect us episodically. The rest of the time, we’re as capable as anyone else to speak our truths.

As Christians, instead of being another’s voice, why don’t we listen to their voice. Being a voice for another suggests an “I know better” attitude that can strip away a person’s self-esteem. They lose the confidence to speak for themselves. And they lose an important part of what it means to be human.

We are real people, just like everyone else.

. . . and yet there are times we need our supporters. Just like any other person in the world, we need you when we’re suffering. Will you be there?


How do you feel about this? Do you feel like you’re a real person? As worthy as others?

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