Put the Armor on the Ground

Quail the Second is becoming well-versed in the art of metaphor… I am proud to busting!

I have noticed this quality developing slowly in her over the last year or so, but the other day, she walked into the kitchen and completely blew me away. For the record, I tell this story with her full permission; she, like her parents, is of the conviction that one of God’s good purposes in giving us hard things is for the benefit of others.

The oldest 2 Quail both have feeding tubes, and have had for the past 12 years. They were and continue to be complete and total game changers in the management of the mitochondrial disease and we thank God for the mercy of a way to get their fatigued bodies the needed calories (I seriously wish all kids came with extra “tummy buttons” — what’s that, little Johnny? Wanting to become a picky eater? Hold still…). When the tubes were first placed, an incision was made, a track formed so they can be fed liquid formulas directly into the stomach and initially, it was actually a long tube that was always attached and because I just realized that some of you may be enjoying elevensies as you read this, I am going to truncate this description. Suffice to say, it was nerve wracking to have toddlers with large loops at the midsection that could get caught on things like chairs and bedposts and when they were able to switch to the low-profile Mickey buttons, it was a relief.

A Mickey button (it’s a brand. No relation to mice, cartoon or otherwise) is a small, flip-top button, a bit like a cap you might see in a medicine bottle. A balloon filled with water on the inside of the stomach holds it in place, and a tube can be attached externally for administering feedings, other through syringes or when attached to a pump. Still with me? They are great. But because we live in a fallen world, things get old and wear out, and so the buttons need to be changed about every 3 months. I am a master button changer. Bet you didn’t know that, right? It should be at the top of my resume (if I had such a thing): Button changes, painless, in 30 seconds or less or your money back!

One of our earliest gastroenterologists likened a button change to changing out an earring, which demonstrated 2 important things to me.

  1. I would not be hurting my daughters when I changed their buttons.
  2. Our doctor has never had a belly ring.

Which, I should say, I am totally ok with.

Having myself changed out a belly ring (I know. You are awaiting my memoirs with baited breath. Well, have a Tic Tac. Ain’t nobody got time for that), I can attest that while not painful, it is a super weird and queasy feeling and I can only imagine those sensations are magnified when the change goes directly into your stomach. So it is understandable that Quail the Second has battled hard against button change related panic for a long time.

We have spent years practicing relaxation techniques, distractions, singing and breathing and pleading with doctors to sedate both of us until the whole wretched business is over (have you ever thought this bad old world would be a nicer place if Valium was over the counter? Me too). As she has matured, the fear has grown into something that plagues her, sometimes months in advance of a button change. But it has not grown without God also maturing her faith at a comparable rate.

So this week, when she walked into my kitchen in the height of distress, she had made a bold, if not emotional, decision: she would FIGHT. She was awash with fear, and yet conscious that fear does not belong on her; she is in Christ and fear is the sort of clothing the old man wears. Fear is pagan garb, not befitting a child of the light. But how to begin?

And here, even through her tears, this brave Quail pulled out a metaphor that knocked me flat.

“So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, ‘I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.’ So David took them off.” (1 Samuel 17:38-39)

Quail the Second concluded that all her frantic attempts to talk herself out of being afraid, to build up protections around herself so that she need never feel the terror of what she dreaded, were like Saul’s armor. David killed Goliath in the strength of the Lord, and in His strength alone. No human armor did the job. And so she took courage, and took off armor.

Interestingly, when God tells us not to be afraid, He never tells us that it is because we are being silly, or that the thing we were fearing really wasn’t that bad, and couldn’t we just get over it? The hardships God has handcrafted for my children are real. There is plenty to have fear about, if your eyes are on the hardships and not the Giver of the hardships, and that could definitely drive you to try and cope on your own strength. Brave Redheaded Quail has been learning her courage from her Lord, who is patient and gentle — put off your armor. Put on Mine.

Gird your waist with truth. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Wear the gospel of peace on your feet. Above all, have the shield of faith in hand, raised and at the ready because the evil one will send shots across the bow when you least expect them, shots of fear, lies about the sufficiency of God, terrors that come in the dark of night. But the Lord is a Warrior, He fights for you. Before Him, fear runs, terrified, and will find no safe haven in which to hide itself. Have you considered that today? Fear is scared senseless by the God who says you are His. Ever seen a parent defend his kid? You cannot even imagine the lengths God will go to in order to defend you.

So go ahead. Drop the armor. Lift high the cross.

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