Spiritual Survival Guide For The Suburbs
by Major Danielle
I’ve made a life choosing to posture myself
with people in the margins.
I did this to model the life Jesus lived.
Completely on purpose, Jesus hung out with people who were not
of the “mainstream.” People who made “normal” people
uncomfortable. People who don’t know their place in society—or
who just don’t care.
I remember a good picture of this in my life
when I took two of my friends from the margins of Downtown
Eastside Vancouver to Missions Fest Vancouver. Although it was
just down the street—it was a lifetime away in social status.
Once we were seated, my friend Annie thought it a good time to
spread out her collected “butts,” spreading them out on the
carpeted floor so she could roll a few nice new smokes while
everyone was busy singing hymns. My other friend Stephanie was
so bored that she simply kept looking around at everyone and
asking, “How do people sit through this?” which I think was
less a ruse and more a genuine question coming from her.
What I now realize is that the poor don’t
need me. People in the margins don’t really need charity or
mercy from people in the status quo—because they don’t get
their affirmation or their value from people in the
mainstream. They never have. That’s why they live in the
margins. They have chosen a different value system, a
different way of life—and the things they measure and the way
they live is so completely different, it’s like we grew up on
And we mostly did.
They don’t need me, but I need them. I need
a life that is free from the facade of lukewarm vanilla
living. I need to measure something other than the length of
the grass on my lawn and the shade of paint on the walls of my
suburban home. I need to measure my life in things that
actually matter. I need to un-Martha Stewart myself until I
can actually feel again. Until I can admit my own weakness and
laugh at my need for control. Until I can see others for who
they really are and stop judging them on what they are wearing
or their latest highlights.
I need them.
What the margins have taught me is that
there are different ways to live. I can see why Jesus chose to
hang out there every chance he got.
These days I live in suburbia. I didn’t
choose it—I was sent. And I’ve spent three years raging
against the warm glow of comfort that threatens to put me in a
spiritual slumber. This week I was talking to a great friend
who has discovered the same truth: The margins don’t need
us—we need them.
And so I long for the discomforting presence
of people who defy the status quo. I find myself hoping for
some caramel flavour in a vanilla world where even my own
appetite bores me. I realise just how toxic the mainstream
becomes without a prophetic voice to wake us out of our
spiritual slumber. There must be better things to invest in
than Costco? For this longing, even an eggnog latte will not
So, we have decided to create a spiritual
survivor guide for the suburbs. A shocking idea.
Chapter one: Wake Up.
Wake up to your desperate need of awakening.
Wake up from the slow, thick fog of wealth and ease.
Wake up from everything neat and tidy and
details of minutia that will cause us all to die a death of a
thousand paper cuts. Wake up and head to the margins … even if
just to visit.
Because a prophet, dressed in the most
inappropriate clothing, using the most inappropriate language
and hanging out in the most inappropriate places is waiting
for you. The prophets always lived in the margins, living out
the very word of God in the world.
Awake to the reality and words of a living
I need this godly prophetic place. I need
the margins to wake me up on the inside.