For most of my life, I was hypersensitive. It felt like my nerves extended about 20 feet out from my body in every direction. Everything that happened around me, especially involving people, reverberated through those nerves and caused ripples in my soul.
In some ways, it was just an indication that I had a highly sensitive personality – a biological predisposition to be more connected with my emotions and the emotions of others.
In other ways, it was hypersensitivity as a symptom of mental illness – physical and mental dysfunction resulting from various genetic and environmental factors.
The bottom line was that it took a lot of energy to stay calm. My main methods of coping were to isolate and build walls of protection. I needed time alone in a quiet place to rest and heal, and I needed thick walls to protect my fragile mind from the onslaught of the world.
I asked God if I could be a hermit; but He said no. He created me to be in relationship with others.
I Corinthians 12:27
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
I’m supposed to love others.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
How can I love others when it takes all my energy to keep myself sane? How can I love others when they’re often the ones triggering my depression or anxiety?
The answer, of course, is to trust that God will protect me.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
There are several verses that tell me God will protect my heart and mind. But many more verses tell me that it’s my responsibility to protect my own heart and mind.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
How am I supposed to protect myself when I’m not allowed to isolate or build walls?
I need a different strategy.
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
He didn’t tell me to be stronger or faster than the wolves. He told me to be smarter than the wolves, without losing the foundation of His truth, which is the reason I’m obeying Him in the first place.
And He knew I would need protection to do this.
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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The armor of God is not just a spiritual or religious exercise; it’s a comprehensive defense strategy for my heart and mind.
It will take work to build my faith to the point where it’s strong enough to extinguish flaming arrows. It will take work to get my feet ready to walk out the gospel in a hostile world.
But if I spend my time and energy working on developing His armor in my life, I won’t need to keep building and maintaining massive walls. And I won’t need to feel exposed and vulnerable when I step out from behind those walls to obey His call on my life.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to look at each piece of armor God has given me and get a better understanding of how that protection can a) give me peace to trust that I’m truly protected, and b) encourage me to then step out and love others the way He told me to.
How has God protected you when you stepped out to do His will?
Photo credit: MabelAmber
This post is the first in a series on the Armor of God. The next six posts are linked below.
The Belt of Truth Strengthens My Soul
The Breastplate of Righteousness Is a Healthy Boundary
Sturdy Shoes on a Foundation of Peace
The Shield of Faith Helps Me Love My Enemy
The Helmet of Salvation Reminds Me Why I’m Here
The Sword of the Spirit Destroys the Lies