Have you seen that poignant meme that’s going around? It says something about girls not wanting a knight in shining armor, but one in damaged armor because it shows he knows how to fight – and win. My dear friend, Brianna Tibbetts even wrote a fantastic children’s book with a similar premise: The Knight in Battered Armor.
However, as much as I get and like that meme, some of us just come shiny.
Our armor is polished to a shine that’s mirror-worthy. We reflect the sun so bright it blinds you. We haven’t seen a single real battle in our lives.
And you like us that way. You with holes and divots and bleeding wounds. You’re looking for blindingly shining armor. Someone who rides at you on that white horse with a smile so enormous you know they’ve never experienced real suffering.
We with our glistening, shining armor – we had great childhoods. No one beat us. No one starved us. No one abused us. Oh, our parents weren’t perfect – no one’s is. But you get to chuckle and swallow the lump in your throat listening to us complain about that one time a parent yelled because we swept all our mountain of toys under the bed instead of thoroughly cleaning up.
You laugh with relief because you were actually looking for shining armor. You with your sword scars, your missing limbs, your armor in pieces. You wanted rainbows and sunlight and summer grass and fireflies and hot chocolate. You wanted to be reminded that life was worth living. That in some pockets of the universe, there was endless joy. Endless love. Endless acceptance.
So you picked the purest, the sweetest, the brightest, the most innocent.
And you made us yours.
And we loved you.
But then when the old wounds ache late at night, when the thunder roars and rains fall, and when your old demons rear their heads and occupy long days in your soul, that’s when you find our shining armor an offense.
We don’t know how to take care of you. We only know how to shine. We don’t understand what you’re going through. But we try. We cry with you. We hold you. Our armor dulls under the stain of both of our mingled tears.
But you wanted shining armor because your own armor was frayed, broken, and warped. And at least we showed up with armor. Brand new is better than nothing.
However, we’re green, our noses fresh and unfreckled, our complexion peaches and cream. We’ve never met a demon. It takes all our energy and empathy and strength and understanding to get it. Yet we try. We take off our helmets and try to cram them on your head, ill-fitting and stabbing. You screech at us. It doesn’t work. Don’t we get it? You need something worn, something smooth from use, oiled from weeping, slick and easy to slide on because of the blood.
We don’t have that kind of armor. We never did. All we have is the crisp newness of a glistening mirrored face. Staring back at you. Showing you how damaged your breastplate has become. It’s falling off your body.
In the end, you hate us for being shiny. You resent us for being bright. For being fresh. For being naive. For the joy you so once so eagerly sought.
But you’ve forgotten that’s what you wanted.
And, you know what? In the end, you get your wish.
Because, living a lifetime with you –
We’ve become battered too.