Do you recall the story in 1 Samuel 17 where King Saul chose shepherd-boy David to fight the giant Philistine known as Goliath? And in preparation for battle, Saul gave David — presumably a teenager with no previous experience in battle — a set of armor fitted for Saul, not David. Everything was too big. I image the tunic, the coat of armor, the helmet, the sword…all of it being clunky, ill-fitted, and ridiculous on him. David said, “I cannot go in these…I am not used to them.” (v. 39) So David went up against nine-foot-tall Goliath with only his slingshot and five stones, confident in God and not the armor.
We talked about this story at a recent devotional time at Naomi’s House. Everyone usually knows this story, no matter where or how you grew up around the church. But we focused in on the fact that David took off the armor that day. We each identified what it’s like to put up a shell around us that is meant for protection, but ultimately holds us back. I think we all do this. We work hard to hold up an identity, a reputation, a safeguard, so that our true self stays hidden, or guarded. But the problem with that is that we are trying to be someone we’re not. We’re trying to mask our authentic self by playing a role that’s not ours. The women at NH were not shy to express how this has too often been the story for them. One woman said she would walk the streets when she was homeless with her tough exterior as her “armor.” She would put up this front that she was tough and unafraid. But inside, she was terrified and alone. She was never in a safe enough place to let her armor down and say “this isn’t me! This doesn’t fit me.”
Another woman said she didn’t even know her favorite color was yellow. She was always told her favorite color was purple. So she lived that out…always wearing purple, trying to wear this identity of someone she else. And unprompted, she said it wasn’t until she came to NH that she discovered her favorite color is actually yellow. Can you imagine? Having to walk around life wearing armor, an identity, that wasn’t meant for you? It’s clunky and inhibiting.
It is such a gift to be a part of someone’s journey when they discover that the identity they’ve been wearing isn’t theirs. And that God has a much different experience for them if they can find the courage to set down the wrong armor. It doesn’t happen overnight. This road to healing and discovering one’s true self after being told for so long who to be, where to go, and what to do is a journey to completely relearn yourself. Or, in some cases, learn about yourself for the first time.
Yes, we’re still very much being impacted by COVID-19. Yes, we are still struggling with the challenge of doing programming while keeping everyone safe. And yes, healing and progress are still happening. God’s desire to overcome our false identities and replace them with a truth and righteousness cannot be stopped. We are seeing that every single day. The message the woman at NH taught me today? Stop being someone you’re not and put down the wrong armor. Five stones and confidence in God’s power is enough.
Thank you for holding NH and the women we are serving in your prayers. We’re praying for you as well!