I’ve lived the majority of my years in a small county nestled in the cradle of “Central Virginia” and securely fastened to the “Bible Belt” of the United States. My parents are both ministers and my foundation was built at Church, despite abject negativity in my early years. My cornerstone is Faith. It is fluid to me and grows, changes… transforms throughout the years.
Over the last few weeks I’ve shared things about my past that very few people knew. It was difficult to evaluate my experience and necessary to find courage to speak. Yes, it’s brave…. sharing information this deep and challenging in a public forum. It requires hurtful consideration of my fragility which has been torn by life events and illnesses.
So, what does that make me?
Exactly like YOU.
We all face these challenges. We all search to find warrior’s strength in every day life.
I’d like to briefly share with you, as promised last week, one of the ways I have prepared myself for battle…. and, of course, it’s found in scripture:
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
No matter what faith you adhere to or believe in – even if you aren’t Spiritual or hold to an eclectic moral code – this Biblical passage can be applied to your life. It’s a reminder of self and can serve the purpose of molding and strengthening our inner resolve. Let’s take a look:
- The “Belt of Truth”
The belt of truth, in my opinion, is absolutely the most important garment.
As a person living with Bipolar, honesty and truthfulness are sometimes the most difficult task I face. When speaking, it is not unusual for me to mix up words and leave important information out of sentences and conversations. This leaves friends and family confused and trying to decipher my intent can become such a chore. Everyone wants to understand, but it’s not always possible.
This sometimes results in me seeming more dishonest than I am and, for this reason, it is imperative that I try to think before I speak…. and that I surround myself with people I can trust and who reflect truthfulness in their own lives as well. The most difficult of virtues are also the most healing when they are used correctly.
(Just wait until I get around to talking about beneficial gossip! Sounds like an oxymoron, right?)
You’ve heard it repeated time and again that “honesty is the best policy”. Without honesty, we are each unprotected during battle. Tightening the Belt of Truth keeps everything in an appropriate place.
- The “Breastplate of Righteousness”
The breastplate of righteousness protects our heart.
In the battle of life, it’s essential to keep your heart guarded at all times. If you are involved with a toxic situation or person and feel your heart starting to fade… apathy is taking hold and you begin to let everything walk, no STOMP, all over your heart. What happens when you don’t have that all important organ?
Well, we all know the answer to that question…. you’re gone without hope of returning.
Allegorically, this scripture is the same concept and it builds upon the other pieces of armor.
Surround yourself with the Belt of Truth and the Breastplate of Righteousness so you can protect yourself from the destructive power of negative retrospection, introspection, and extrospection.
- The “Shield of Faith”
Christians regard the shield of Faith as trust in the promises of Jesus. His faithfulness to unconditional love and acceptance reminds followers that the accusations, doubts, and temptations that people use to attack each other have no power when you are shielding your heart.
- The “Helmet of Salvation”
It is important to protect your heart and just as imperative to protect your thoughts. We are each our worst enemy… which is reminiscent of the scripture reminding us to love our enemies… love ourselves as well? Definitely!
However, that’s sometimes the hardest thing to accomplish! So, make sure you remember your worth. If you’re a Christian, then, you’re Salvation is the ultimate example of unconditional love – You are a warrior protecting your heart and thoughts while riding into battle with the assurance you fight for Truth, Righteousness, Faith and Salvation.
“But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation” 1
- The “Sword of the Spirit”
Thinking all the way back to my first blog about battle… I commented that words and explanations are the best weapons we have to fight the ugliness of the stigma surrounding mental illness.
In the same way, we have the reminder that the Bible is our Spiritual Sword. In my opinion this means we can rely on scripture to guide our thoughts and teach others about the unconditional love of God. Also, when we feel defeated by negativity, we can turn to these verses for inspiration to “soldier on”!
- Wait…. What about your feet?
Looking back at verse 14 you can see a directive to “stand firm”. If you will allow me to create an armor suggestion…. I like to think of this as the “Combat Boots of Peace”.
Sounds weird, I know, almost contradictory… “combat” and “peace”. What is the goal of almost all battles? Yes, that’s right…. Peace. Not to mention, we’re discussing spiritual warfare here. That’s why I think it’s perfectly reasonable to consider combat boots leading to peaceful living.
Shoes provide balance to our movement. As such, they are irreplaceable when crossing treacherous grounds… such as, you know, being alive. (wink)
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good new, the good news of peace and salvation, the goodness that God reigns!”
So, this is how I try to get ready for my daily battles. Reminding myself of the above scriptures and how precious I am to my Creator helps me focus on the correct path. Even though, at times, my illness wins the battle I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I can win the war! (Cliché though that may seem)
What is your armor, my friends? How do you deal with your challenges and find the positive minnow in a negative sea? What do you consider important? Do you rely on Faith, Self, or both? What about “none”? Spiritual? Agnostic? Atheist? Where do you land on the Spiritual spectrum? Do you believe, like me, that the above scriptures can be applied to anyone and be helpful for those with illness and challenges?
Think about it. I love you all to “peaces”!