And there they were in all their splendor, with golden hair and sharp teeth. I came far too close to four lions. It didn’t matter that there was a fence separating us because just yards away were magnificent creatures with the power to rip me to smithereens.
I was reminded of a story found in first Samuel. A story right before one of the greatest stories in the Bible of David and Goliath. During his moment of bravery, David reminisces about a time when he killed a bear and separately, a lion. He was a shepherd and it was his duty to protect his sheep.
When one was stolen by the beast, he did what no one in their right mind would. He pulled the lion by its beard, took back the sheep, then struck and killed it.
I find it hard to imagine someone this courageous. Someone willing to risk their life for an animal. But what if it was about more than saving a fluffy sheep? Maybe he was fighting for his identity, which just so happened to be a lowly shepherd at the time. He took pride in his duty and would do whatever it took to protect it.
At the end of the day, our identity is all we have. It is who we are when there isn’t an audience. As I stared at the lions and remembered David, I also remembered who I once was; A girl who believed she could change the world but my identity was no longer one I recognized. The fearless girl who once was so full of life and reckless joy had somehow grown consumed with an image of who I thought I needed to be for everyone else.
My reflection resembled a timid mouse walking on eggshells. Paranoid that if I did or said one wrong thing, I would misrepresent Jesus. But isn’t that just twisted? Jesus offers freedom and we put ourselves chains of religion? What kind of love is that? It isn’t. That my friends represents the image of fear and fear doesn’t come from the Jesus I know.
At the root of who David was lies something, we see throughout scripture. Passion. He fought in epic battles, killed lions and wrote poetry. True identity is the fact of being who you are without apologies. You can be both strong and vulnerable. It is necessary to feel empathy without pity. You can make improvements without degradation. Sure, you may have to face a few lions along the way, too, but isn’t that the point?