Memo 1040: What Are You Wearing?

It's hard to walk in someone else's expectations, especially when those expectations don't relate to your purpose. You can try to please society, your family, and even your own interpretation of what you think you should be or do, but eventually you will fail. That charade will deplete your energy and creativity, and you will be miserable—but sometimes only you will know. So what's the answer?

It's simple; recognize when it's happening and don't fall into that trap.

You must resist every attempt when someone, well-meaning or otherwise, tries to get you to fulfill their vision for your life. You must learn to have and pursue your own vision, for it is the only road to happiness and success. One of the road signs for that vision or purpose is the joy or lack of it in your own heart.

That's what David had to do before he was king and it served him well. You may want to read the story to which I am referring in 1 Samuel 17 before you proceed.

TRY THIS ON

The story of David and Goliath is known in many cultures and lands. Every day, Goliath and the armies of Israel would line up across from one another and nothing would happen, except that Goliath would taunt Israel and they would cower and retreat in fear. One day, David came to check up on his brothers and heard Goliath mocking the armies of Israel. That made him angry and he wondered why no one was doing anything about it. They all thought Goliath was too big to hit, but David saw that the giant was too big to miss. When he heard that there was a reward for anyone who would kill Goliath, David immediately volunteered to do the deed.

When David told King Saul that he [David] would be the one to kill Goliath, Saul laughed, considering him too young and inexperienced to fight the mighty giant. David would not relent, however, so Saul eventually gave in and sanctioned the encounter. Before he let David go, however, he gave David his personal armor to wear:

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 (1 Samuel 17:38-40).

It made sense that anyone going into battle would need the protection armor could provide. However, David had no intention of fighting a conventional duel with Goliath. David was going to fight on his terms and with weapons of his choosing, and thus could not function in Saul's armor because Saul was a head taller than all his peers (see 1 Samuel 9:2). Therefore, David took off the armor and took up what he felt most comfortable with—a slingshot and some stones.

NO ONE ELSE

Do you see the lesson here?  Saul assumed that David could only fight dressed in body armor, so Saul gave him his. He assumed David was just like him and all the other soldiers. Others have tried to give you what fits them and their assumptions—what they think is best for you under the circumstances—and you have tried to walk in it. It's not possible, however, for you to be a man or woman of purpose and walk in what someone else gives or has for you. You must find your own joy, creativity, and passion.

What's more, you can't explain it to anyone so they can understand because even you don't understand it! You just know what your heart is telling you and that is what you should pursue, whether it makes perfect sense or not. Remember what the wisdom writer told us:

Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy (Proverbs 14:10, emphasis added).

You know how much you love music, art, travel, writing, business, preaching, or medicine. You know how much you dislike bureaucracy, details, travel, sports, or a host of other "normal" activities that seem to energize others. No one knows better than you do what's in your heart, no matter how much they love you or how spiritual they are. Only you are equipped to hear and follow your heart. Are you up to the task? Do you have the courage to face life armed only with the things that work best for you according to your unique style? Or will you succumb to the wishes and pressure of society, church, or loved ones to conform to what's expected of you?

This week, it's time to be honest. Are you trying to fulfill someone else's expectations for you? Have you put on someone else's armor?  If so, take it off immediately! Don't face your Goliaths in someone else's image for you, using what conventional wisdom says you should have or do. Face them in the knowledge of who God made you to be; that's good enough to get the job done. You will be lighter, nimbler, and happier than you have been in a while, and it will be a significant step toward identifying and embracing your purpose. As you do, I know you will have a great week!