last week a friend talked about how when we think of knights in battle, we see their armor as shiny and bright, geared up and ready to fight. we rarely think of the shape of their armor after the battle. or that when the victorious knight returns, the dents in the shield, the gouges in the sword, the cuts in the chain-mail, and the dirtiness of the armor does not matter. all that matters is the victory.
this struck me. not only for the stark visual image it brought to mind, but for the real-world implications it has for me. i imagine that knight, returning to the castle, and as he takes off the armor, he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror. what does he think? does he regret the dent in the armor, or is he thankful that the armor protected him in that spot? does he think about how he could have fought differently so that his chain-mail wouldn’t need mending? or does he thank God that he still has his arm?
we would scoff at the idea that the knight would belittle his victory with such thoughts. and yet, we do it all the time.
looking in the mirror, i sigh that i didn’t use sunscreen more–maybe those wrinkles forming around my eyes would have been staved off a little longer. and yet, even in that thought, i miss the fact that at least some of those creases came from stressful spiritual battles where i emerged victorious.
i curse the creaking bones when i stand, wishing that pesky disc in my back were formed a little differently, or could have withstood more pressure. the truth is, however, that disc survived–and after years of sports, a few of car wrecks, and a host of other battles in life, it’s actually miraculous that i only have one slightly-less-than-perfect disc. and those white hairs sprouting from my head at a faster and faster rate? as much as i close my eyes to their starkness against my dark hair, they represent battles as well.
and after each of these things, i am still standing.
still seeking God.
still enduring the battles of faith.
and the fact that i am still engaging in that warfare
is evidence of the victory.
so what if the chain-mail is breaking down
and the armor fits a bit tighter than before.
i’m still standing.
i’m still here.
and rather than curse the battle scars,
i choose to see them as trophies for a battle well-fought,
a battle well-won.