In my most recent book, I discuss, at length, what wearing and living with the Armor of God entails. In my analysis, I try to communicate the fact that everyone does not understand this “armor” or know why he or she needs to be equipped with such armor in the face of everyday challenges.
Just like a boxer trains for his or her strongest opponent regardless of who the fight is scheduled with next, and just like Olympians train to beat the fastest, best, or most formidable competitor in their respective sports, so must we train and prepare for our biggest fights with whatever enemies may be waiting for us. Sure, we see some adversities coming, such as the temptation to use drugs or abuse alcohol or the temptations to quit school or stray from our families, children, or spouses to make ourselves happy first. Even in the group that I just mentioned, drug use is certainly a more visible threat than the latter, which is the idea of spiritually or emotionally drifting from loved ones. And this is what is at the core of my point; it is not always easy to spot the enemy and what the enemy has planned for us in terms of attack. Many times, it is in hindsight that we realize the mistakes we’ve made, simply because we had not educated ourselves OR armed ourselves against the initial attack.
Even more difficult to spot is the enemy that seeks to undermine our very sense of self. I talked a little about this in previous blog entries, particularly when we were suffering from news of the events in Baltimore in the shadow of the Freddy Gray funeral. I talked about how we might fall prey to people who will, ultimately, lead us completely astray during times when we feel vulnerable or are drawn to do something for the right reasons even though the action may be a deplorable one. None of us, in this world, is immune to this, friends; trust me on that. We can all fall prey to bad decisions and actions that take us down a path from which it is hard to return, despite noble attempts to do so.
Daily, when we’re at work or when we are talking with friends and neighbors over dinner or a barbeque in the backyard, we often forget that there are opportunities to share beyond the exchange of pleasantries and burgers and potato salad. There are opportunities to open up to one another as friends and share our stories of strength and triumph. I’m not talking about bragging; I’m talking about sincerely sharing the stories of struggle and emerging victorious over whatever challenged us. I’m talking about inspiring others with truth and advice on how to live as strong as possible, in your armor against the enemy, at all times.
Let’s face it, many times at work, things come up that are not pleasant. Maybe a co-worker has taken credit for someone else’s project. Maybe there are layoffs. Maybe the workload is just so great that friends and co-workers are having trouble getting it all done, are not sleeping, or are worried and upset most of the time. Maybe your neighbor discloses that he is having financial trouble. Maybe another neighbor down the street is going through a sad divorce. In these moments, and in these opportunities to counsel, listen, and to be a friend, we can also talk about what armor we use to offset the enemy when we are vulnerable or feeling down. During these times, it is imperative to acknowledge that, yes, it is OK to feel bad, but it is not OK to let those feelings dominate you, isolate you, or change who you are inside. This is the enemy’s most subtle and, often, most dangerous attack – making us feel like all is lost – that there is no hope – there are no friends to turn to.
Share your stories of faith and strength. Talk about the time you felt down and pumped yourself back up with your armor, whatever that may be. For some, the armor is relying on a healthy lifestyle full of good foods and exercise to keep the blues away. For others, daily prayer gets them through the rough patches. For others, simply interacting with friends of faith or family who notoriously support and encourage is the armor. We all have these coping skills and strength-acquiring mechanisms built into our daily routines. We have to remember to tap into them, share them, and give them the kudos they deserve – give ourselves the credit we deserve. After all, we never know when the opportunity to use these traits will present itself. It is best to be primed, trained, and waiting to use them.