When a Friend Told Me to F*ck Off, the Shield of Faith Was All I Had

When a Friend Told Me to F*ck Off, the Shield of Faith Was All I Had July 28, 2023

Computer game character, knight with flaming arrows in his shield
I created this little graphic of a computer game knight shielding flaming arrows. Read how the evil one took deadly aim at me… and how you, too, can use God’s Shield of Faith when you’re in those crosshairs. Credit: Coco Cabrel (created with Pixabay graphic in Canva)

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)

Within 2 months of my baptism, I had pulled God’s Shield of Faith over myself at least a half dozen times. In hindsight, I probably should have used it several dozen times. But I kept forgetting I even had a shield.

The times I did remember, I clunked it around, unskilled and inexperienced. I was a newcomer to all this, a “noob,” as my gamer sons would’ve said (it’s probably a different word now). Definitely got nicked by more than a few “flaming arrows of the evil one.” Didn’t think I’d ever level up in this very real-life game. Every time I did, somehow, manage to get underneath God’s shield, I bawled with fear, gratitude, and tons of snot.

Then the evil one seemed to get really, really angry that I was remembering God’s shield more and more. He was no noob. He leveled up big time to try to get me back.

He prepared a really big, really cruel arrow.

And took deadly aim at me. 


I had this trusted friend. It seemed.

I had a friend whom I had mentored through his multiple educational paths over the past dozen years; he had helped me through repeated rough patches of unemployment and failed businesses. We called each other “cousin” because we felt like family – “Cousin Miss Coco” and “Cousin D.” Cousin D was a rare friend who was generous with his time, the little money he had – and his unfiltered advice.

I should have recognized the red flags. Cousin D always prefaced his advice with, “Coco, I love you, BUT…” It was always an all-caps “but.” Followed by a dramatic pause.

Then he would drop his ruthlessly cutting observation of me and my situation, and give his “tough love” recommendation. Sometimes I answered with feeble sentences in flailing self-defense. Maybe I injected a snide remark. Ultimately, as a then-non-believer with zero ammunition, I stifled my tears as I felt my life’s dreams and goals crumble under what sounded an awful lot like “truth.”

This was a pattern. Traversing a dozen years of wildly shifting circumstances, this was a pattern. In hindsight, I see that because I was actively turned away from God, the evil one easily struck me colorblind to the Holy Spirit’s red flags. I couldn’t see the pattern. To me, this was acceptable behavior from a “trusted” friend.

Then I got baptized.

The Holy Spirit handed me God’s shield.

And one day, when I forgot that I had His shield…


The evil one drew back his bow…

When was the last time you felt like you had a target on your back? Or right over your heart?

Plenty o’ times for me. This time, though, I didn’t notice it. I was still floating so blissfully in the wake of my baptism – I simply didn’t notice I had stepped right into the evil one’s crosshairs.

I had just gotten home from the lovely birthday celebration of Cousin D’s mom, and Cousin D and I were still texting all sorts of celebratory follow-up comments. He sent me his new job update, I sent him my new business opportunity update, he congratulated me, and I answered, “Praise God!”

And he texted, “F*ck off, and get a real job.” Without the *.



Help me, Jesus, I’ve been hit!

Jesus wasn’t kidding when he gave his disciples a heads-up before sending them out to perform miracles in His name and spread the word that He was here:

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.” Matthew 10:16-18 (NIV)

In an instant, as that flaming arrow fried my heart, my eyes opened to the dozen years’ worth of hidden red flags. They were all lined up. Pointing to this moment of truth. This moment of faith.

At first, I didn’t know what to do. I did know my old ways were no longer an option. Sarcastic remarks in self-defense and tears of self-loathing are not the ways, once you’re baptized in Christ.

So, what are the ways?

They are: remember God’s shield, and get under it as fast as you can.


What good is a Shield of Faith, anyway?

Apostle Paul labels God’s shield as the Shield of Faith.

Hmph. Faith? Not a shield of steel or titanium? Not a shield of strength? How ’bout powerful deflection? How is faith going to “extinguish” any “flaming arrows”? I mean, my heart was burnt to a crisp here.

And I was panicking, phone in hand, fingers poised.

Holy Spirit, Jesus, God – are you there? What. Should. I. Do?


Remember in whom you have faith

As followers, we’ve been tasked to go out “among wolves” to spread our faith. And our faith is, most simply put, in Jesus the Christ.

Jesus the Christ is the One who overcame death. He overcame the evil one and, therefore, any situations the evil one can shoot at us.

As believers, we believe that. Without having physically seen or touched Jesus, we believe in Him and His power. That’s faith.

So, using the Shield of Faith is covering ourselves with that faith. We allow Jesus the Christ to use his faithful power to cover us – shield us – and “take” those “flaming arrows.” Snuff them out.


And a big part of using the Shield of Faith is believing that we no longer have to come up with our own clever replies or smart justifications against nasty texts, emails, or comments. It’s believing we don’t have to hide our tears in the face of cruel behaviors.

Wielding the Shield of Faith means we know we can stand firmly behind Jesus the Christ and allow His victory to absorb the impact of the arrows.

The arrows can’t burn us.

Game of the evil one over.


Then what?

Coco's face hiding under her forearm
This was a real moment of using my physicality to help me focus on using God’s Shield of Faith. Yes, I was crying. And because my phone was on the bathroom counter, I snapped this photo as a future reminder. I hope it reminds you. Credit: Coco Cabrel

What can this look like in practical terms? Sure, Jesus won his supernatural battle, yet the evil one still uses people to hurt us, especially when our guard is down.

Since this heartbreaking attack, I’ve come up with a physical action that immediately makes my whole being aware. It’s a dancer/athlete trick that combines the imagination and the body, and it’s highly effective.

I imagine grabbing hold of God’s Shield in my left fist, and I physically hoist my forearm over my head. I fully allow myself to physically feel that shield.

Then, keeping my left arm overhead, I think of Jesus embedding Himself into my shield. I lean into my faith that He is, indeed, there!

And I duck under Him. I quite literally duck my head under Him.

A lot of times, I start to cry. That’s OK, and if that happens to you, too, let it flow. He’s taking the arrows, every blow. And they’re not harming Him because He’s already won this!

He’s shielding you.

Stay there as long as you need to. The tears and fears will pass. Then…


Reflective Response

After the immediate situation has passed, you may have some ashes and splintered arrows to clean up. Here are 3 practical ways to sweep away the debris and polish your shield – so it’s ready for next time:

  1. Delete hurtful texts, social media comments – Delete, delete, delete. Yes, you can delete a 12-year-long thread. (I did.) Reviewing the words or repeating them to others to “prove how mean” the person was, only refills the evil one’s quiver. Do NOT give him ammunition!
  2. Block temporarily – It’s OK to block someone temporarily while you pray for guidance on next steps. Please know that Jesus will call you to very specifically love and pray for this person (see Matthew 5:44). The block is temporary, and you need to expect that going in.
  3. Pray for guidance and discernment – Reach out to the Holy Spirit for help. God gave us a Helper for a reason! Ask for passages from Scripture that will help you heal from the hurt. Listen and look for wisdom that may come from a sermon or a devotional. Stay aware.

Through it all, stay in The Word. Hold onto your faith that The Word is true. On the one hand, it may be “all you have.”

On the other, it’s all you need.

To learn how to handle the other pieces of God’s full armor – through my quirky stories and bodily connections to Scripture – go ahead and check out my other articles in this 9-part devotional series… a Novena Devo, as it were:

“Wearing God’s Full Armor – How Can You Get Strong Enough?”

“Belt of Truth: Why We Buckle It First”

“Life’s a Rollercoaster: Get Your Breastplate of Righteousness in Place”

“How Can Feet Fitted with Peace Help Me At All?”

“Can the Helmet of Salvation Save a Brain of Insecurity?”

“The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God… How?”

“Reckless Tongue? How to Wise Up”

“Can You Walkie-Talkie with God?”

“Of Walkie-Talkies and Crazy Prayers, Part 2”

About Coco Cabrel
Coco Cabrel, The Flamenco-Fit MD, uplifts professional women searching for Christian grace in their bodies and souls, even when life feels ungraceful to them. She uses her God-given gifts as a writer, speaker, dancer and teaching MD to share devotional stories, fun workouts with Flamenco flair, and effective courses that help to rise triumphant over hardship. You can read more about the author here.

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