What is the Dark Armor and when was it forged? Long ago.
In my ignorance, I sought my own solutions to my problems.
I was taken from Brooklyn after the 10th grade, in 1985. Mine was a story of pain related to by many, in that it is nothing new to have one's world shattered by the career goals of one's parents. Military families endure it all of the time.
My loss was at least somewhat different from most, in that, of three children, I was the one with the most to lose. My father knew this, considered my losses to be acceptable to him, and pulled the trigger when his opportunity came. That the acknowledgement of such did not come for 20 years is completely irrelevant.
What did you leave behind that was so special it bears mentioning, you ask?
My mother, for one. She could not receive me to live with her. Or would not. Also irrelevant.
My sister. She is four years my senior, and was in college at the time. As such, it was not her fate to have to leave our beloved New York, although the irony of moving her things into my mother's apartment the night before I was sent to Washington, D.C. (see: Oblivion), was not lost upon me at age 15.
The friends I had in church and school. 25 years later, I see, via the window of Facebook, the lives of some of those who brought me happiness just by being on the same planet with me, forever removed from me now. We recall one another fondly, we renew oaths of friendship, but the fact is that we are so separated by time and distance that I can only look through the mists and see them, with their spouses and children, and remember how inseparable we once were. I endure the pangs of regret that my family, my children, do not mingle with theirs... Hassan... Richard... Pamelita... so many, many more... people I could hold conversations with without speaking, they were so woven into my fabric. I loved them. They were my universe. And they were all stolen from me. And I from them.
Then there was the girl I loved. At 15, I was far ahead of my own time in matters of the heart. I was certain of things most were not. I was in love at a fathoms depth which icebergs and the continental shelves envied. Accepted, even loved, by her family. They were the secret source of any reason I had to smile. They, too, were stolen from me, and any semblance of refuge from the cruel, callous world which surrounded me I could ever hope to find.
They were sufficient enough; the sheer force of my feelings *real* enough... to frighten her from me, in the end. It sent her into shadows to hide and wait until the open armed light source finally died of starvation.
Long story short, I would learn in less than a year from my departure that things change, at times irrevocably and without explanation. It would take many years of grief and humiliation, well into my 20s, before the heart at last bowed in submission to what the mind, presented with the obvious, had been forced to accept; "It is over, Steven. It is finished and you will receive no answers as to why no matter how pathetically you plead. The Wolfrider and all he stood for are dead. You took your Tolkien-fed imagination; your chivalrous, knight-in-armor dreams, and reached too high, too soon, Icarus. The price for your impertinence is the sum total of your joy burned to ash. Move on if you want to live, or despair and die. Just do it and be done, whatever you choose.
I ...vented more than wrote... a poem of it, the knight, beaten, standing before a figure of towering darkness that spoke with a voice of thunder. The portion that lives still in my memory is below:
"Thy soul is mine!"
So cursed the Lord of the Nine.
"Thine heart's desires a consign to dark oblivion...
Come thou to me.
Take death, at last, upon my blade,
that by your every fear was made,
and every private sin!
Thy love forsake hope and fall into the sand.
Thy love forsake all hope and fall into my sinking sand!
All joy escape thee for the rest of thy life,
and unfulfilled, torment thee still!"
All suffering leaves a mark. Choices are made by those who suffer; they make adjustments to insure that they never suffer in such a manner again, each to their own measure, if they are the able to survive.
As it turns out, I was.
The Dark Armor was forged, by me, to protect my vital organs, as those who I entrusted to value and protect them had, as far as I was concerned, proven at best, faithless... at worst, treacherous... to the task.
It was a thing I willed into existence. A shield against those who would look upon what I was made of at my core and spit upon it, take its true worth as naught and shred it in callous disdain, dissect it and measure the length of its screams as the blood spilled from its wounds.
It was my heart, you see.
The Dark Armor was a live, adaptable thing. It changed in accordance with the threats arrayed against it, or the need of that which it protected.
"When you believe in things you don't understand, then you suffer." - Stevie Wonder
Ally yourself with the wrong source of power, and you will likely live to regret it.
The Dark Armor was forged of molten despair. Tempered with the fires of seething anger. Cooled by acidic bitterness.
Tainted in Darkness. A lie that said I could protect myself with the sum of my own corrupt parts.
I would have spared myself the consequences of sheathing myself in such materials, had I fathomed how to actually do what Solomon said in Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take."
I had not yet learned what it meant to humble myself, confess my sins, seek the Lord's face by trusting and obeying His Word. I sought, in my pride, my own solution.
In my pride.
What was the point to telling you all that ancient history?
The Lord of Lords saw that I was seeking the truth and sent a mentor to me, and I to him. We are now brothers in all but blood. We had a conversation last week that went like this;
He asked me, "Can a Christian truly say 'to each his own' when it comes to religion / lifestyle, etc.?"
"No." I said. "There is only one path."
He went on, "Why do we, then?"
To which I replied, "We want to placate and get along with folks. We don't want to do the difficult things ourselves, let alone be an example for other people. Deny ourselves... 'empty me of myself'... that is a titanic battle."
I went on to say this, "It is a fight to the death. Satan would not yield in that fight. He is the ultimate poster child for Pride. Even when he is finally defeated; FINALLY cast down into a pit and imprisoned for 1000 years, he will STILL come back ONE more time, lead ONE more rebellion. He is the epitome of what happens when we do not yield, when we deny ourselves NOTHING. Our wisdom becomes corrupt."
Our wisdom becomes corrupt.
It is a fight to the death. You now know how this blog received its name.
My mentor, my older brother, went on later to elaborate on what I had said, the Spirit of the Lord leading him, as it had led me, to say what will never leave me while I have breath.
"Following Jesus is not a popularity contest. It is a death sentence."
Jesus said in Mark 8:34-35, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."
I had not grasped the necessity to trust in the Lord first, not my own pathetically anemic understanding of how the Creator wants me to live. I had not at all fathomed what it meant to deny myself, read the Word of God like I eat food to nourish my body and breathe in and out to stay alive.
In confirmation class, we were taught how to be good members of our church's doctrine. We were given sermons on about half of the WHAT to do, with little to none on HOW to actually achieve it.
Now that I know the how, I can not keep it to myself. I am, in fact, mandated to tell others.
May God grant me the wisdom to remain devoid of myself, that His Spirit may use me to serve according to His purpose, that God may be glorified. In the name of He who ransomed me, Amen.