When I was growing up, I was fitted with a strong suit of armor. Like many little girls, things happened to me - to my family that made my armor stronger – reinforcing its joints with every disappointment and heartache. For the most part I had a dream childhood. For the most part no one would ever be able to tell that I needed armor at all. The thing about armor is that it becomes a part of your exterior. It blends in so well with your happiness and sadness that it is nearly invisible. The thing about armor is that one must get extremely close to see it. However, the MOST important thing about armor is that it doesn't allow anyone to get that close.
Until I was an adult, my armor secretly revealed itself through the nonchalance with which I approached intimate relationships. My armor was not yet fully developed, and was only reserved for those that wanted to kiss me. To make myself vulnerable was never an option. It seemed so wise. Perhaps in those moments it was.
As an adult my armor became strong and solid with every passing year. My armor became laced with sarcasm and bossiness. It was my defense against criticism or disappointment. I knew everything and trusted no one. In turn, I became defensive and critical. It shielded my eyes from giving the benefit of the doubt and filtered out compliments so I only heard the criticisms. My armor’s bitterness hurt. It wilted the person beneath it in tiny unnoticeable steps....
Until the day I brought home my first baby. For the first time in years the armor did something besides strengthen itself around my shoulder blades, or reinforce the tightness around my joints. For the first time it cracked. Not much. Just a simple hairline break. The beauty was that this tiniest crack compromised the strength for the first time in years. It did only that. The armor was still there. It was still hard to carry. It was still so heavy. It was so heavy that my knees buckled below me one day when I couldn’t go any further in the direction I was going.
So I changed directions.
And I moved with my two babies and my husband to a land faraway, but a land not-so-different from our previous home. We became part of a community of volunteers; people who would become little pellets of aluminum pinging against my armor – a noise so loud it drown out the world beyond our walls.
The community wore me down. I felt exhausted and used – raw from the constant pinging against my armor. One day I realized that it wasn’t the community, but my armor that was making me so tired. So I took off a tiny piece. It didn’t come off easily. There were tears, but no relief. Immediately there was regret. Instead of relief, there was sadness and vulnerability. Then came embarrassment along with his close friend dread. But I was so tired. I was so lonely. I was the bare-bones of myself. So I let another piece fall.
For 14 months pieces of my armor fell away, bit by bit. Piece by piece. Eventually there were just the two very last pieces. The most important pieces that covered my vital organs and protected the parts of me that needed to be protected. They wouldn’t just slide off easily, or unbuckle under the strength of my fingers. For these I needed a chisel.
So I chiseled. I worked and worked at the last two pieces. Everyday I argued with God and asked questions I had never asked. All the while chiseling away at the metal shield that was wrapped around my body. There were days when it didn’t seem as though there was any progress. There were days when it felt as though I had only made it stronger. But then there were days when I went to bed thanking God for making my chisel extra strong that day.
Then one day I watched it fall away. Instead of fireworks and proclamations, it fell away with the tiniest of revelations in a small room with two chairs and a box of tissues. I shrugged my shoulders in a giant circles and wiggled my fingers. The weight of pure air was so light I felt like I was floating. That was it.
This. is. it.
Freedom. Vulnerability. and Love.
But the greatest of these is Love.