November 2, 2007
By Van Walton
“My God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.” 2 Samuel 2:23 (NLT)
I used to play tennis twice a week. I stopped playing several years ago. With my busy schedule, it became too much a juggle to commit to weekly games. There is another type of tennis I now find myself playing - I call it “spiritual tennis.”
I have been often told I’m hyper-sensitive, defensive, or insecure. I have been told that I take comments too seriously or personally. “Can’t you take a joke?” “Don’t be so serious.” “You are too thin skinned.”
Come to think about it, I can get my feelings hurt easily! Now I certainly do not want to ever become hard-hearted or callous to life. I would rather be sympathetic than unfeeling. But the truth is, sometimes other’s statements hit my mind, piercing my heart like purposefully directed missiles. It doesn’t take much to wound me. Sadly, once I’m emotionally injured my focus becomes my pain – to the extent that I become incapacitated for hours, days, or maybe months. During recovery my life is rendered worthless.
You are now wondering, “What do hurt feelings have to do with tennis?”
The game of tennis consists of two to four people competing against one another from opposite sides of the court. With the help of rackets, players smash, smack, and hurl the tennis ball back and forth with so much force as to cause the rival to move out of the way and, hopefully, return the ball.
Back and forth, back and forth goes the ball. A player scores when (s)he hits the ball with such force that the opposing player finds it impossible to deflect the ball. I can still hear my tennis coach. “All you have to do is return the ball.” That meant that I had to properly position my racket at an exact angle that would bounce the ball, sending it across the net and hopefully into a corner of the opposing court where my opponent could not reach it.
One day I got hit by the ball. Ouch! I couldn’t continue to play. I was incapacitated for days. Had my racket been in place, it would have shielded me and I would have averted the injury.
The racquet used for spiritual tennis is spelled S.H.I.E.L.D. When perceived insults, demeaning comments, or I-was-just-playing-with-you jokes fly at me, threatening to put me out of the game, I can be the winner rather than the loser. I position my “shield” to deflect the attack, refusing it to allow it to destroy me.
Unlike tennis, spiritual tennis, does not seek to destroy the opponent. Once I realized I could raise my shield and strike the comments, without returning insults or defending myself, I began to experience victory and walk with dignity rather than in despair.
I hold up my shield like this:
Say nothing to insult.
Hide myself in God and His dignity.
Intervene in prayer for the one who is “smacking” the ball at me.
Expect God’s comfort when I tell Him about my wounded spirit.
Listen for God’s wisdom.
Discuss my feelings with the one whose words or actions have hurt me.
Maybe you don’t “wear your feelings on your sleeves” as much as I do but, possibly you can relate to my malady. If so, the next time you are zinged with a comment that can hurt your feelings, purpose to put your “shield” up.
Almighty God, You tell me to put on the shield. Without Your protection I perish. Show me when and how to use the shield you have given me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
6 Habits of Highly Effective Christians by Brian T Anderson & Glynnis Whitwer
Van Walton’s blog
Review the above acrostic, S.H.I.E.L.D. Be prepared to use those steps the next time you feel demeaned or offended.
How do I handle my hurt feelings?
What is the underlying cause of my insecure thoughts?
Power Verses: Psalm 18:35, “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand upholds me, and Your gentleness makes me great.”(NASB)
Proverbs 30:5, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (ESV)
Ephesians 6:6, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…” (ESV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105