But the beauty of the armor of God is not because of its design or the stature it gives us. It's because of the Designer.
When I was twelve, I vividly remember creating the armor of God at a local Vacation Bible School. Cutting out long strips of construction paper, pouring mounds of glitter, and writing in all caps with a permanent marker, my masterpiece was complete.
As I made my way to my mom's car, my best friend and I struggled to walk. The armor was stunning. Oozes of glue and sequins flaked with every step. I felt so powerful. Who wouldn't with a cardboard shield, sword, helmet, and breastplate?
Yet as I continued to journey toward my mom, it seemed she only got further and further away. The armor served its purpose; a representation of the power of God within us. But it was growing heavy. And sometimes, the armor we create to protect ourselves later becomes useless. It once served its purpose, but it no longer holds that value.
What Armour Are You Wearing?
While the armor I wore that day was temporary, and I could easily slip it off, other forms of manmade armor we wear aren't as easy to discard.
Christians are to possess the armor of God, which can be seen in Ephesians 6:10-20. And while it's described as physical items we put on, the weaponry God dresses us with is invisible to the human eye.
From head to toe, God tells us to put on the Helmet of Salvation, the Belt of Truth, and the Breastplate of Righteousness. He then reminds us to adorn our feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace. With one arm, we extend a Shield of Faith. In the other, we thrust forth the Sword of the Spirit and the eternal Word of God.
This armor is good, beautiful, and powerful. As the Passion Translation notes, "Stand victorious with the force of his explosive power flowing in and through you" (Ephesians 6:10b). But the beauty of the armor of God is not because of its design or the stature it gives us. It's because of the Designer.
The Beauty of Godly Armor
"Put on God’s complete set of armor provided for us, so that you will be protected as you fight against the evil strategies of the accuser! Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms. For they are a powerful class of demon gods and evil spirits that hold this dark world in bondage. Because of this, you must wear all the armor that God provides so you’re protected as you confront the slanderer, for you are destined for all things and will rise victorious. Put on truth as a belt to strengthen you to stand in triumph. Put on holiness as the protective armor that covers your heart. Stand on your feet alert, then you’ll always be ready to share the blessings of peace. In every battle, take faith as your wrap-around shield, for it is able to extinguish the blazing arrows coming at you from the evil one! Embrace the power of salvation’s full deliverance, like a helmet to protect your thoughts from lies. And take the mighty razor-sharp Spirit-sword of the spoken word of God" (Ephesians 6: 11-18b, The Passion Translation).
But as powerful and important as this body armor is, it's become apparent to me that I often guard myself with another set of armor, protection meant to help me that only keeps me behind barricaded doors. Maybe you can relate?
The Trap of Our Own Armor
When I was fourteen, I felt the immense need to become the third parent of my home. After my father's physical injury, he quickly fell mentally ill. I built walls to protect myself as I began to fill a need that I felt I had to. My helmet was perfection. My sword of productivity was rooted in perfection.
Over the next decade, I grappled with growing up. Relationships quickly strained, and I isolated myself. When family struggles started spinning out of control, I clung to anything I could control. That led me down a deep, dark, and dangerous road of perfection and a ruthless eating disorder. Welcome to my shield.
Around my waist, I secured the lie that I wasn't good enough. I could always do and be more, and I needed to do so. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a girl permanently damaged by circumstances both beyond and within her control. And everywhere I walked, I didn't walk in shoes of peace but regret, shame, and fear.
I often struggle not to walk in that armor today.
The Problem with Trying to Wear Both Sets of Armor
The thing about our self-possessed body armor is that it's not of the Spirit, meaning it's not indestructible. And we were never meant to carry it. We were never meant to try and protect ourselves.
My armor, in some ways over the years, has served a purpose. The desire to work hard, achieve high standards, and help provide for my family are good qualities. But when the perfection, endless hours of work, and inability to rest surface, is the armor really worth it? We were never meant to feel so heavy.
In a recent conversation with my clinical counselor, he reminded me of these truths: While the armor we create to help protect ourselves can serve a purpose, there comes a time when we aren't meant to carry it anymore. At least not all of it. And for me, not to the extent and weight it often causes.
Today, I still wear pieces of this protection. I am addicted to productivity, and the anxiety I feel to complete tasks with such excellence and caliber can be utterly exhausting. It's a double-edged sword to work so hard and live with such diligence.
But what I'm learning to do is let pieces of that armor down and replace them with the armor God did intend for me to put on. And as I lay down my pride and the ability I think I have to care for myself and pick up the protection He's given me, I feel just a bit lighter.
This exposure therapy isn't easy. Trust me.
Even small tasks that can wait feel like the biggest mountains needing to be moved in my mind. But the armor God asks me to put on daily is for my own good. It's His protection. Not something I've created. Not something that was temporarily needed for protection.
Friend, I want to encourage you that while you might be wearing armor that you were never meant to carry, God has an armor that's so much more effective. His Spirit lives within each of us, and the power of that can transcend and supersede any strength the former gave us.
He can help you lay it down.
He can help you shed the weight.
Because He's the one protecting us.
And He forever will be.
His love is a shield.
His faithfulness is a banner.
His Word is the hope we need to keep moving forward.
One step at a time.
One day at a time.
One piece at a time.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Andriy Boechko
Amber Ginter is a young adult writer that currently works as an English teacher in Chillicothe, Ohio, and has a passionate desire to impact the world for Jesus through her love for writing, aesthetics, health/fitness, and ministry. Amber seeks to proclaim her love for Christ and the Gospel through her writing, aesthetic worship arts, and volunteer roles. She is enrolled in the YWW Author Conservatory to become a full-time author and is a featured writer for Crosswalk,