It is easy to put on the veneer of a person of great faith. We can be and present whomever we want to be on social media. But if we pulled back churchy folks’ curtains just a bit, we might find someone filled with as much doubt about God as an atheist. There is no shame in admitting that we have days where we could not find our faith with a flashlight. Some days we might even wonder if we ever had any to begin with. So how in the world did David get his confidence?
I believe David’s confidence came from his intimate relationship with the Divine. David knew that despite his large size, Goliath was at best only a horizontal champion. But David had a relationship with the One for whom frightening circumstances did not dictate outcome. Goliath reminds us that in this life there will be giants we will have to face. I know many of us have been hurt by church experiences where the leaders we trusted to guide us only ended up infecting (and re-infecting) us with patriarchy and misogynoir. It is hard to allow yourself to be vulnerable again once you’ve been hurt, no matter how the hurt was caused.
When David faced Goliath, he knew God would be there for him because he had a history with God. Read as David calls the roll:
Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!” (1 Samuel 17: 36-37)
David had himself a little testimony service! David was confident that God would be there for him, because God had been there for him. David knew who he was and who he belonged to. And even though David turned out to be a real butthole (for example, getting Uriah killed and not doing a damn thing when his son raped his daughter), he was certain that God heard him, in spite of himself and his many, many flaws.
David was a shepherd, and he knew what it was like to fear predators. A bear had gone after his herds. A lion had gone after his herds. And David watched God work. I believe David called the roll and told his testimony to encourage himself. To prepare for battle, he affirmed himself. David was a kind of sheep, keeping to the path that was familiar to him. That’s why he went into battle with the weapons familiar to a shepherd.
So for us, I think part of being vulnerable is allowing God to keep us on our own paths. One thing I think God appreciated about David was his continuous effort to find and maintain his own path throughout his. We have to be our own shepherds sometimes, and the rod here is our own discipline and commitment to forever seeking out our own paths, even when we don’t want to. Being vulnerable with yourself requires calling your own roll, telling your own testimony. Reflect upon those times in your life when you KNEW that God saved you not only from the paw of the lion the paw of the bear from your own life, but also reflect on those times God saved you from yourself.
In the end, isn’t that what faith is? The ability to see a situation the way God sees it? The odds were against David, a teenaged boy facing down a seasoned gladiator of a soldier. But in the end all God needed was a small opening for that stone to pass through. Encourage yourself by affirming yourself. Affirmations help us face our giants. And like David, you might even hear the sound of a loud and boisterous thud…the sweet sound of a giant falling.
Note: starting Wednesday March 21st, I will post affirmations on Instagram every other Wednesday to remind us to recall our own testimonies, to strengthen us for the journey, and hopefully locate our paths. You can find me on Instagram at @thechurchedfeminist.