“Take the helmet of salvation” Ephesians 6:17a (NIV)
I made a new friend one Friday evening when I volunteered for a kids’ event at my church. He was one of the other volunteers on the event team. I recognized him as the new singer in our church’s incredibly talented worship band. His voice is so tremendous, I had been curious all along if he were a professional singer. I live in Los Angeles, LaLa Land of Milk and Honey Voices, so this would not be a surprising thing at all.
The very next Sunday, he sang at the services, and we got to chatting afterwards. Oh, goodie, I thought – I was going to satisfy my curiosity and learn all about this lovely person.
You know what I actually learned? Even in an easy-going, truly lovely chat – when you’re not “on the battlefield” – you apparently still need to be wearing God’s full armor. To guard against yourself!
‘Cause I flubbed a simple conversation by filling my Helmet of Salvation with a head stuffed full of pride.
My new friend opened the conversation with a cheerful, “So, what does Coco do during the week for work?” This is a straightforward question requiring only a straightforward answer. I started out OK with the new work I’d recently been called to do – I present Flamenco school shows, shows that make social-emotional learning fun by getting the kids to move.
As I worked my way through that still-new-to-me description of what I currently do as work, I watched my new friend’s reaction of surprise morph into delight and then full-blown intrigue. This is normally the cue for Rule #1 of Excellent Conversation: stop talking, listen to their reaction.
I missed my cue.
My brain flubbed the conversation
Instead of immediately shutting my mouth and listening to whatever God might have said to me through another human, I blabbered on as if reading random lines from my resume.
“I used to be a department chair.” “I taught anatomy and physiology before.” “I’ve been coaching online fitness during the pandemic.” “I have an MD, too, so…” “And I was a dance professor long ago, so…”
I watched this poor human’s eyes cloud with bewilderment. He valiantly did not ask me the question that my own brain was screaming at me inside: “Why are you saying all these other things?”
And my brain screamed back at itself, “Because I have to impress him!”
Impress him? Why?
Was this a job interview? No. Was this a business loan meeting? No. Was this an audition? No. Was this a performance review with my boss? No. Was this dating app banter? Absolutely not. (I’m secure in my marriage and more than twice this new friend’s age.)
Even if this conversation were any of the above, aren’t the results of those interactions in God’s hands anyway?
The answer to that question could be a whole separate article, even a whole entire book. However, it also defines what the Helmet of Salvation is.
So let’s talk.
A Brain of Insecurity: What it looks like, AKA Have you done this, too?
Sure, the way our world is currently structured, we are frequently required to list our accomplishments and assets, to showcase our skills and, in the case of dating, sex appeal.
But when the simple acts of listing and showcasing turn into the desperate need to impress the person on the receiving end, what is that? That’s insecurity.
And when our brain feels insecure, what do we tend to do? Puff ourselves up, of course!
- Not sure if you’ll get that job you really want? Highlight the bullet points further down the resume!
- Feel the pressure of needing the money to keep a business afloat? Point out assets, even if they aren’t actually doing well at the moment!
- Haven’t gotten a callback in 3 years? Throw in random skills!
- Desperately want that promotion? Go off on tangents without circling back to the conversation at hand!
- Super lonely again? Focus on what you think makes you “super appealing”!
It’s like a punch in the head, and you ineffectively punch back using random self-preservation reflexes. Without protecting your head in the first place.
Where does the one/two punch of insecurity/puff-up come from?
Plain and simple, our nervous system is built to preserve us – save us – when we’re in a fear-filled situation. One built-in option is to retreat. The other built-in option is to appear better/faster/stronger/smarter/sexier than we really are.
How does that manifest when it goes beyond basic preservation?
Biblical pride. The pride that makes us think we’re better/faster/stronger/smarter/sexier than God.
How can the Helmet of Salvation save you from your Brain of Insecurity?
Apostle Paul urges us to “take the helmet of salvation.” Let’s work this statement backwards.
- Salvation: The Cambridge Dictionary’s secular definition is “a way of being saved from danger, loss, or harm.” The same dictionary’s theological definition is this: “In the Christian religion, salvation of a person or their spirit is the state of being saved from evil and its effects by the death of Jesus on a cross.”
- If we, as Christians, believe this truth, we can – and should – think about it as often as possible. I’ll admit, thinking about this truth is quite a relief among my fear-filled thoughts.
- Helmet: “a strong, hard hat that covers and protects the head.”
- Speaking from that MD that I really do have on my resume, you may think a helmet protects your skull only. But by protecting your skull, you protect your brain. And by protecting your brain, you protect your thoughts.
- So, the Helmet of Salvation protects your thoughts from forgetting the truth of salvation.
- And finally, take: “to accept or have.”
- Paul urges us to “take the helmet of salvation.” (emphasis mine) Accept it. Have it. It’s been handed to us. As a gift.
- So, all you have to do is take it. Not earn it. Not buy it. Not achieve it.
- Not prove anything about yourself to anyone to get it.
Not puff yourself up to make it yours.
Simply take it.
Let’s make a new list, with our Helmet of Salvation on our heads – protecting our thoughts:
- Job interview jitters: Remember that God has the perfect job already lined up for you.
- Keep your will aligned with His, and keep asking the Holy Spirit for the right words during interviews.
- Loan/grant/money misery: Remember that God always provides exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.
- Keep thanking Him for everything, even if it looks different from what you’re going after.
- Audition angst: Remember that God gave you all your gifts.
- Keep practicing and auditioning – and give each practice and audition to God.
- Boss boo-hoos: Remember that God makes your path straight for you.
- Keep trusting and acknowledging His timing and placement. (see Proverbs 3:5-6)
- Love/lonely longings: Remember that God loves you more than any human ever can.
- Keep asking Him to show you His love – it’s mind-blowing when you allow yourself to feel it!
PS: And I know I’ve kept you hanging on tenter hooks – is my new friend a professional singer? No, BUT he graduated a voice major in college! And he just got a new job at a Christian radio station – bravo, and praise God.
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: