I am not bulletproof. That should be no surprise to anyone, but it sure is a disappointment sometimes.
Invulnerability is one of my favorite superpowers to play with in fictional universes. If someone were to be truly impervious, what would that mean for them? How would the physics of this superpower work in different contexts? What impact would this have on the character’s life and perspective on the world?
I sometimes pretend to be bulletproof, metaphorically speaking. I’m a strong person. I take responsibility for myself, and for what needs to be done. When the going gets tough, I buckle down and make things happen. I pride myself on my resiliency, level-headedness, resourcefulness, and creativity. I know the joy of the Lord on a deep personal level, and because of that, I don’t let anything get past me.
At least, that’s what I make sure people believe about me.
Every now and then, however, I’m forced to remember just how vulnerable I really am to what an outsider might view as “weakness,” and I break.
At times, it’s just a bunch of little things that sneak past my defenses and start piling up on my emotional plate. A project I’m working on isn’t making the progress I envisioned. A friend bailed on an appointment without notice and left me hanging. I haven’t put away the basket of laundry I washed three days ago, and it’s side-eyeing me from across the room, grumbling mutinously.
Big things add up, too. Even when I think I’m coping well enough, there’s no escaping the toll that stress takes on a person. My good ol’ dog is showing his age, and I’m afraid the day is soon coming when he will no longer be with us. My dad is experiencing some minor health issues that concern me, but he refuses to change his behavior to address them. My friend who once was a devoted servant of Christ has fallen on hard times and can’t reconcile God’s goodness out of the pain of heartbreak.
I keep on chugging through life, though, with my head held high, my smile firmly in place, and my shield of determination in hand. Unfortunately, keeping up the charade that I’m still doing okay, and repeating the traditional Christian platitudes like “I’m so blessed” and “God is teaching me through this,” is equivalent to pretending that I’m bulletproof when I’m really not. It’s finding excuses to look like you’re not dodging fire. It’s shrugging and telling everybody “‘Tis just a flesh wound” when a slug finally hits you.
In those moments when I finally do break down, it’s usually in the privacy of my parked car, or during an unexpected free moment at home, or in bed late at night when the darkness is all around me. I feel the pain and frustration come to a point, and I cry – and then I find myself feeling ashamed. If I’m the invincible righteous warrior that I claim to be, how can I still be so broken? How can I be a good example for those around me of a “good Christian” when I can’t keep the tears from falling? Why, after all this time training in the faith, am I still so weak? Why can’t I just be bulletproof?
The thing is, God doesn’t want us to be bulletproof.
Sure, there are plenty of passages in the Bible that talk to us about fighting the Good Fight – and I know them like the back of my hand. Here are just a few to remind you: 1 Timothy 6:12, 2 Timothy 4:7-8, James 4:7, Romans 12:21, 1 Corinthians 9:24, 2 Corinthians 10:4 – and those are just the ones that came up on my first Google search. There is no doubt in my mind that God wants us to be fully aware of the war at hand, and to brace ourselves to play our part in it.
More importantly, however, God wants us to run to Him when the hailstorm of bullets start to overtake us. He is our shield and our fortress. He is the safe place, the mighty warrior, and the God most high. When He sends us into battle, He is with us. He fights for us. He protects us. And when things go wrong, He is our rest. He is our source of strength. He is the God who saves.
We don’t need to do anything but turn to Him, and He’s got us – bullets and all. That’s the best bulletproofing there is.