You gain consciousness just in time for another grenade to explode. Clods of dirt spray your body as you clamber up and straighten your helmet. The smoke begins to dissipate, and you can see enemy lines moving slowly but steadily forward across an open field—straight toward you.
Make no mistake about it: we live in a war zone. Peacetime is coming, but it is not here yet. For now, we engage the enemy with all we’ve got, and when all we’ve got is gone, we maintain our position.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
A stunning array of armor follows this verse, available to every believer: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the boots of gospel readiness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and the walkie-talkie of prayer. This kingdom-grade ensemble is tested and ready for battle, and you can almost hear the theme song from The Avengers as Paul commands, “Suit up!”
As crucial as our outward gear is, God also gives us an opportunity to load our inward beings with equipment for both offense and defense. This stockpile is known as an arsenal of truth and beauty, and it’s a game changer in our spiritual war.
Think of the arsenal as a treasure chest stocked with everything you need to arm yourself against the enemy: verses, words, photos, video clips, songs, smells, knick-knacks, etc. Whatever will trigger gospel movement in the middle of a firestorm.
One of my favorite things about this tool is that it’s tactile; you collect physical items to put in a physical place. My physical place just so happens to be a cute hat box from Michael’s, but the possibilities are endless. An army trunk, a tackle box, a Caboodle, a small tote, a backpack—go crazy. Let it reflect you somehow.
Another favorite thing is that everyone’s arsenal is entirely unique. Different bits of truth and beauty stir us, and the variety shows off what a creative God we serve. As long as your arsenal is accessible and useful to you, there’s no way to “do it right” (or wrong).
Cool, but what does this have to do with social anxiety, you ask? Tons.
Depending on the need of the moment, we can build overarching arsenals (like a tank) or specific arsenals (like a sniper rifle). My peopling problem calls for a specific arsenal, a mini collection curated just for my heart in situations crammed with the fear of judgment. Here are some of the contents I’m gathering together:
- Mask: to remind myself that I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not (e.g., perfectly wise, impressive, helpful, or good)
- Gavel: to remind myself that God’s judgment over me is the only one that really matters
- Funny Austen meme: to remind myself that it’s okay to find humor in the situation and that I’m still loved mid-meltdown
- Ear plugs: to remind myself to block out any voices, interior or exterior, that contradict God’s song over me
- Journal: to remind myself to pray through my pen, working through gospel tools and reviewing past entries
- Bracelet: to remind myself that God chooses me even when I’m a hot mess
- Lavender oil: to remind myself to calm down and take the pressure off
Along with these passages:
- Zephaniah 3:15, 17
- Psalm 17:8
- Hebrews 13:6
- Proverbs 29:25
- Galatians 1:10
- 1 Thessalonians 2:4
- John 12:43
Just a note: this isn’t about winning our own freedom—it’s about walking in the freedom Christ has already won for us. Whatever your current battlefield, building an arsenal will help. There’s no demolishing of strongholds by accident. We fight a force that uses strategy and intentionality, and we’d be wise to counter those attacks with strategy and intentionality.
From one freedom fighter to another, I challenge you to begin constructing your own arsenal. Let it be a fun process, and listen to the Spirit as He directs you to include certain weapons in your war against the dark. Our Jesus has come to release the captives; it’s time to rise up and follow Him out of our graves. Advance!