For years, I lived with undiagnosed bipolar disorder and my mental and emotional life was intense. My own emotions were already more than I could handle, so when I got involved in other people’s emotions, it didn’t always end well.
I didn’t know anything about codependence or healthy boundaries back then, so when I tried to help a friend who was being blown around by life’s storms, I ended up getting blown around with them.
Each of these misadventures reinforced in me the need to protect myself. And after each one, the wall around my heart got thicker and taller.
So when God asked me to step out of my shelter and risk engaging in other people’s storms, I needed some kind of reassurance that history wouldn’t repeat itself.
Stand firm then, … with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
These shoes represent readiness. The gospel of peace makes me ready – it prepares me. For what?
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. … 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…
There are plenty of Bible verses that tell me to go; but these are telling me to stand.
What does all this have to do with loving others?
If I offer the hand of friendship to someone who’s being blown around by the storms of life, I need to know that my feet are on solid ground so that I don’t worry about being sucked into their storms.
Wearing solid shoes with good tread gives me confidence that my feet won’t slip.
How does the gospel of peace give me that confidence?
So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
will never be stricken with panic.”
Both Paul (Eph. 2:19-22) and Peter (I Pet. 2:4-6) refer to Jesus as the cornerstone, and Peter specifically quotes this passage from Isaiah.
Jesus is the sure foundation and the one who relies on Him will never be stricken with panic.
How? Through the peace He gives us.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The whole point of a cornerstone is to stabilize a structure built with many parts – stones or bricks. Paul and Peter explain that Jesus is the stabilizing support for the body of Christ, which is made up of many believers.
Jesus provided His peace so that all of us imperfect believers, with our emotional baggage and cultural biases, could have a solid base from which to work together and build His church.
When my heart and mind are guarded by God’s peace, I can reach out to someone who doesn’t have that peace and help them find their foundation in Him.
When I’m standing on solid ground, wearing sturdy shoes with good grip, I can reach out to someone being blown around by the storms of life and help connect them to the anchor of their soul (Heb. 6:19). And I don’t have to fear being sucked into their storms.
Great peace have those who love your law,
and nothing can make them stumble.
Loving God’s law – making His Word a priority in my life – keeps me from stumbling. But it’s not just the written word that is His law.
Jesus stated clearly what the law is for His followers.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Loving others also brings me God’s peace which, in turn, keeps me from stumbling.
He provided His peace to us as a sure foundation so that we can love others without losing our own peace.
That doesn’t mean we won’t feel the effects of the storms of our own life and the lives of those we love. But it does mean that we won’t be moved by them.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
For most of my life, emotional detachment was how I protected myself from being swept away into insanity.
Jesus is calling me to replace that coping mechanism with His peace. He has promised that if I make His peace my foundation, I can trust that He will keep me from being overwhelmed when I reach out and love others.
How has God’s peace changed the way you relate to other people?
Photo credit: stevepb
This post is the fourth in a series on the Armor of God. The first three posts are linked below.
Replacing Emotional Walls with the Armor of God
The Belt of Truth Strengthens My Soul
The Breastplate of Righteousness Is a Healthy Boundary