When I woke up for work on Friday and physically could not move my limbs I just knew that I was going to have a bad hair day. After coming down off of a lot of extreme stress my body just shuts down and I’m temporarily incapable of moving. I forget who, but one of my therapists called it “enervation.” It means you’re body is too stressed out to move. It crossed my mind to take a mental health day and not go into work because past experience dictated that course… but I didn’t want to give in to that on Friday. I laid there for a while and prayed. When I was able to get up I prayed so more. The last thing I prayed before leaving my house was that I would be wearing the full armor of God mentioned in the book of Ephesians.
Maybe it’s just me… but I’ve never been able to fully relate to that passage as it details the “full armor of God.” Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up when people dressed like Spartacus so armor imagery just doesn’t speak to me. A few years back I found a more contemporary image when I read the New Living Translation and it spoke of the “body armor” God. A big fan of shoot ’em up movies of the 80’s – I can totally relate to body armor…. pretty cool…right?
So this was how I was spiritually dressed when I left my home on Friday. As long as my focus was on God I was fine.
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:10-18
I need the continual reminder that my struggles are not against flesh and blood. All of the people involved in the various dramas in my life are not my enemies. Sure, they are causing me a truckload of grief… but they are not my enemies. I lose sight of that when I make them bigger than they actually are.
I was determined to stand firm Friday and I did. I was amazed at all that God did around me and through me. When I’d woken up I thought the whole day would go badly. Instead, God blessed me with opportunities to minister to my students and respond to deep spiritual questions that they had. Bipolar Girl was not out in front leading the charge. I was fully functional and totally professional and for that I give all glory and praise to God. The anger that I was drowning in was nowhere to be seen.
It didn’t resurface until I got home and had a run in with the other tenant in the building over a cat. YES. A cat.
It’s not even either of ours. Of course, my first thought was, “REALLY LORD! I made it ALL THE WAY HOME without ANY DRAMA and you send me THIS??” I was so mad it was like I voluntarily peeled off my armor, bent over, and told Satan to kick me. Hard. Crazy Cat Lady is not my enemy but I was sure acting like she was and in doing so I opened myself up to attack.
Yesterday I ran across something that the Apostle Paul said that really resonated with me:
…this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within…
That’s exactly how I feel. And if Paul could find comfort and solace in Christ while under stress, so can I. For the past two months it has seemed like every time I turn around there is some new drama. Outrageous people keep poking holes through the Bipolar Bubble and my first response is that of a caged lion — I want to attack. Paul knew how I felt because he felt it. He acknowledged that things were bad and that he was afraid. No rest? Harassed at every turn? Conflicts all around? Fear?!
Why don’t people quote this verse?? It’s more consistent with the human experience. Just because these things happened didn’t mean that Paul had lost. Just because he felt that way didn’t mean he wasn’t trusting God. Oddly enough, God used another believer to comfort Paul. Because I tend to push people away when I’m in crisis I think I miss out on whatever comfort God might give through them. Which is why I’m especially glad for the people who suit up every day in their own body armor of God and stand firm as they pray and intercede for me.
There are going to be days where I can’t stand firm on my own. Knowing that there are other believers (even folks I’ve met through this blog) who are calling out to God on my behalf… really encourages me. Sure, I dropped armor Friday night. I blew it big time. Anger took over and I wanted to choke that woman’s neck. But I didn’t. I repented and I prayed. During the night Crazy Cat Lady moved out so it is well and truly a non-issue as I’m not likely to ever see her again.
The full armor of God issue is going to continue to come up as long as I live. Sometime I’m suited up. Other times I’m not. I can’t say that I’m wearing my body armor this morning. I’ve allowed my thoughts to go places they shouldn’t and I’ve already made one really bad choice. Yet if my struggle is truly not against flesh and blood, I’m not my enemy either. I have to stop believing that I am “my own worst enemy” when I sin and fall short of the glory of God. For even on the heels of really bad choices, I have a new choice. I can wallow in guilt over what I’ve done and get my spiritual butt kicked or I can repent and ask for prayer. I can choose to put back on the full body armor, put my focus back on Jesus, and stand firm (and still) knowing that he is God.