To know me is to know that I LOVE shoes. If you really know me, you know my brands (lol). Like, you know you have a super special place in my heart if I let you borrow my shoes (especially my heels). Because I love my shoes, I’m very strategic about them. I’m strategic about where I wear them. I’m strategic about when I put them on (yes, I’m the girl that walks up to the church in flats, & walks in the sanctuary in heels, no shame whatsoever lol). I don’t trust a pair of shoes until I try them on…and walk in them for a bit. Why? I’ve learned that shoes that are cute in the store at not always comfortable outside of the store. Also, I’ve seen one too many people fall because they wanted too look cute in a heel that was too high for them. They hadn’t tested them in private, so they fell…hard…in public.
Back in the warm days when I lived in Austin, I was walking from the parking lot to the church. I had on a pair of heels that were about 5.5 inches high (I’m short, I like to feel tall for hours at a time lol). Now, I always had to be careful in the parking lot because it was made of asphalt. Asphalt that had been a little bruised & broken over the years, so there were itty bitty rocks everywhere. Now for those of you that don’t wear heels or have been blessed to not have this particular experience, roughed up asphalt can literally bring a pro to her knees if she isn’t paying attention, because your heel will hit one of those rocks, & your foot won’t know how to handle it. As I was making the journey across the street, I was walking very very slowly, because I had to balance looking up to make sure I didn’t get hit, & looking down to make sure I didn’t embarrass myself. The crossing guard watched me, & when I finally made it to stable concrete, he said “it looks like you can hardly walk in those shoes!” Now, my mama raised me right, so I just laughed it off & kept walking, but in my mind, I thought “suga, do you know who I am? I’m Valencia Campbell. I don’t buy shoes I can’t walk in.” Why am I seemingly going off on a tangent about the dangers of asphalt & my love for shoes? Because it reminds me of David & Goliath (yep, THAT David & THAT Goliath)….
Just about everybody who’s spent two Sundays in any church has heard the story of David & Goliath. For those of you that are a little fuzzy on the story, I’m going to give you the Valencia Edited Version, & send you to 1 Samuel 17 for the full story. So David is a young man in Israel. One day, while little David is minding his business, a group of Philistines walk over to Israel. Out of these Philistines walks Goliath. Goliath isn’t somebody you want to play with. He’s big enough to fight in the place of an army…and win. Goliath walks up to the Israelites & basically starts a talking noise because he wants to fight. Long story short, David emerges, & kills Goliath with something that the Israelite army probably didn’t even bother using: a slingshot & a stone.
Now that we’re all caught up, if you were hearing this story in a sermon, we’d all be ready to shout because this story shows us that it’s not how big the challenge is, it’s about how big your God is. Churches everywhere go into a frenzy because little David stepped out on faith & killed big Goliath! But I’d like to think that David beat Goliath before he hit him with the stone. I believe that David defeated Goliath when he rejected Saul’s armor, not when he hit Goliath with the stone. See, the part of the story that I didn’t tell you a few minutes ago was that when David volunteered to go fight Goliath, the king of Israel (Saul) put his armor on David. David tried to walk in it, & realized that the armor was more of a burden than a blessing, so he told Saul “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them”, & he took the armor off. In that moment, David realized that his stones would work better for him than somebody else’s armor. Let me tell you something that I’ve learned in my little 20+ years of living: don’t trust anything you haven’t tested.
So many times in life, people will put their armor on you. Much like Saul, they mean well. They don’t want you to make the mistakes that they made, or they don’t want you to get hurt, so they put…stuff on you. Now, sometimes, it can keep you from making life changing mistakes. But other times, that armor weighs you down more than it helps you to win, because when people put their armor on you, they also put their burdens on you. There’s a pressure to do what they did (or maybe what they didn’t). While it may have worked for them, it may not work for you, & that’s ok. All of us have something that works for us more than it does anybody else. Don’t trade what works for you (or the chance to see what works for you) for what has worked for others if God hasn’t approved it for your life. If you can’t walk in it, you can’t war in it, so you definitely can’t win in it.
On the flip side, some of us are guilty putting on the armor others. Nobody placed it on us, we went & picked it up on our own because we thought that since it worked so well for somebody else, it must work for us! There are a lot of millennials (and possibly people that are older than millennials) walking in the armor that their mamas or their grandparents once wore (especially in church). The issue with that is, we get the armor, but we don’t get their power. We get the routine…without the slightest bit of revelation. We sing all the songs that those that came before us used to sing, & we say all the phrases….and somehow still miss the point. The difference between them & us is…that was tailored for their testimonies. If you don’t connect what you have, or what you've been through to the sermons, or the songs, etc. that you heard from the generations that came before you, you won’t get the power that comes with them. When you take on the armor of somebody else, you take on a portion of their identity. David’s power wasn’t in Saul’s armor. If David had gone out to fight Goliath in Saul’s armor, he wouldn’t have been able to run, & I doubt he would’ve been able to win because the boy could barely walk. It was better for David to walk out with what God had given him than it was for him to walk out under the burden of somebody else’s identity.
At my final IVGC (gospel choir at UT) banquet, I turned to the young lady who was set to become director once I left, & had a quick ‘passing of the torch’ moment. She’d told me in private that she felt slightly pressured, because she felt that she had to walk in my shoes, or follow in my footsteps. While it was really touching to hear that I’d made that much of an impact, I knew that if she continued to do what I’d done, the choir would eventually fall apart. If they still needed things to be done the way that I’d done them, God would’ve left me there. Clearly He didn’t, so they need something new in order to get to the next level. So I got up & I told she didn’t have to worry about the pressure of ‘walking in my shoes’, because I was taking my shoes with me. I need my shoes for my own journey. There’s a freedom in the realization that what worked for those that came before you…simply worked for those that came before you. That doesn’t mean that it will always work for you. Of course, there are some fundamentals, like prayer, worship, forming a relationship & not a routine with God, etc. But how you fight depends on what God has placed inside of you & what He wants you to fight with.
The issue is that some of us don’t trust what we have, because we don't think it fits into what we see. We saw what worked for those that came before us, & we think that’s the way it has to be done. However, I don’t believe that God has called you…to be part two of your mom, etc.. I've learned that myself, because I am, & will probably forever be known as my mama’s baby. If we walk into any church that she’s been to in the past 20 years, people are going to be shocked to see how her baby is grown. God forbid she go alone, everybody wants to know where I am (lol). Now, I LOVE my mama (hi mama! lol) but if I followed her path, I’d miss what God has for me. If I did everything like she did, I’d be good, but I wouldn’t be the boss that she is. She is who she is because she dared to do be herself. She made her own decisions. She’s got her own destiny. I can’t get her destiny by walking down her path, & I definitely can't get to my own.
You are worth more as an original than you are as a copy of somebody else. God has created a path specifically for you, & if you miss it, you can miss your miracle. God has given you your own set of rocks, & those rocks will always work better for you than somebody else’s armor. He's called you to do something that only you can do. You’ve got to walk in your own pair of shoes, boo. If you don’t walk in them, you’ll miss the beauty of your own existence. The rocks that God has given you may not appear to be much. It may not make sense for you to go to battle with a slingshot while others go out there with swords. But, remember that Saul & his army went to battle the Philistines in their armor & with their swords….and ran back home; David met Goliath with a slingshot, & knocked him out with one good hit. Trust the rocks that God has given you over the armor of others from now on. Walk in your own shoes, boo. The battle is not won because of the armor you wore; it’s won because you dared to trust the God that you have tested over the armor that you haven’t.
Background Music: Pressure - Jonathan McReynolds
Words from the Author
At the end of the day, these posts are the thoughts that run through my mind. These are the lessons I've learned. The doors that I've walked through. The path I've chosen. This is part of what it means to be me. Hopefully, it'll help you be...you. Let's grow together, kay?
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