The Courage to be Ourselves

1 Samuel 38-40

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

There's nothing worse than wearing clothes that don't fit.  If you're a little sibling in your family, you're well acquainted with hand me down clothes and shoes.  Even if they are the correct size for you, these clothes and shoes have been worn and washed so many times they're not quite right.  If you're the first child in a family of many kids, your mom likely bought coats or boots a little too big for you so you could have extra time to wear them.  Moms know how to stretch a clothing budget.

But the "too big" or "too small" clothes never feel quite right.  You are either tripping over your feet, dragging your sleeve through your lunch tray or tugging at the bottom of the sweater to cover your belly or your backside.  When clothes don't fit they're not comfortable.  The same goes for people who try to wear labels, roles or expectations that don't fit and weren't met for us in the first place.  We try our hardest to tug and make them work but we go through life uncomfortable and hindered.

I love the story of David and Goliath.   Many people forget that King Saul tried to help David by offering his own armor.  Sure, it seemed foolish to go to battle with the fierce Philistine with nothing but a sling and a bag of stones but when David tried to put on Saul's armor, it was too big.  The armor would have hindered his vision, his effectiveness, and his ability to make perfect contact with enemy.

All too often we walk around with someone else's armor.  It might be the unrealistic expectations of our parents or society.  We may have grown up feeling like we never fit in or that we were too weird to be liked so we became like a chameleon and change colors to match our environment.  Perhaps we look up to others who are comfortable and successful and we try as we might to match their lifestyle but things don't go the same for us.  The result of ill fitting armor is an uncomfortable, ineffective life.  We would all do well to follow young David's example of being honest with ourselves and others and say, "I just can't do it, this <insert expectation> doesn't fit me, I need to do my own thing.

The older I get the more I see where I have desperately tried to fit in and how it hindered me.  I also feel more comfortable saying "no" to things that don't match what God has placed on my heart and in my life for His kingdom.  1 Corinthians 12 is an excellent reminder that no matter who we are in Christ, no matter our place in the church or society that God has made us uniquely to serve Him and that it is our uniqueness that makes us so valuable.  As Paul describes the Church like a human body, he concludes, "If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body."  It seems like elementary and middle school kids learn the, "it's ok to be different" message over and over but as adults we forget and we struggle once again to figure out how and where we fit in.  

What was David's secret to slaying Goliath?  Was it the years of shepherding and protecting his flocks from tigers and bears?  Had he spent hours in the fields perfecting his aim?  While these things seems like proper preparation, I think the secret to his success was far more simple.  David shed what didn't fit and relied on God to make the shot.