He was bigger, stronger, and older. He consistently picked, poked, hit, flicked and kicked. No matter what I said, what I did, nothing seemed to stop him from torturing me. What had I done to make myself the target of his abuse? Why is something I would never know. For me – there seemed to be no end in sight. Every day at school, at lunch, in between class, on the playground – he would always find me. I honestly could not hide.
One night at a local basketball game, some friends and I found our seats and were eagerly awaiting the start of the game. Our local basketball team was good. Really, really good. Confident we were about to pound the opposing team, we sat, snacks in hand, ready for the great victory we were about to witness. We were ready to scream and shout with great school pride.
It was moments from tip-off, and there he was. My least favorite person in the world. The person I was hoping to avoid. And of course, like an ugly beast bug drawn to a flame, he and his friends headed right in our direction and somehow managed to weasel their way into the seats right behind us. Of course, his seat positioned him perfectly to continue the torture I had unfortunately learned to endure patiently. My ears burned from the flicking, my arms whelped from the slaps and my pride was quickly reaching new lows. I was raised to be strong and to fight when it was a necessity. I dare not back down or let them see my anguish. I fought back tears, did my best to hide the embarrassment and camouflaged the bruised ego left in the wake of the pain inflicted both physically and emotionally.
The time had come. I could no longer bare the torture. I prepared to launch an attack of my own. My mind dreamt of turning around and punching him in the nose, standing over him in defiant victory and imagining he would never again lay a hand on me, nor speak to me unless spoken to first. That dream seemed far out of reach and unattainable.
Just when I thought I could no longer withstand the assault, my torturer stood and walked away for only a few moments. I breathed deeply and cherished the peace of the moment. Hoping he had to go home, that he had left, or hopefully gotten hit by a bus, all of those different and hopeful thoughts raced through my mind. However, that hope quickly diminished as I saw him climbing the stairs, headed back in my direction
I immediately braced myself and prepared for the attacks I was sure I would soon experience- BUT SOMETHING WAS DIFFERENT. He didn’t touch or hit me, flick my ears, look at me or speak to me or about me. What had happened? What had changed? Whatever it was, I was relieved. The next day at school, once again-nothing. He was there. I know he saw me. But, instead of coming over and attacking me, he went out of his way to avoid me. I was confused, yet overwhelmingly relieved.
It wasn’t til several years later that I learned the full story. That night at the basketball game, while I was suffering through the barrage of slaps and flicks, my dad had been watching. His eyes had taken notice and the more he watched, the angrier he became. When he saw my bully walk away to take a break at the concession stand, he quickly rose and found his way down to meet him. He approached this young man, gently grabbed his arm, pulled him close, and simply said: “if you lay another hand on my son, you will live to regret it.” Then, he simply smiled and asked: “do we have an understanding?” The young man looked back at my dad, quickly noticed the severity in my father’s eyes, and fearfully muttered, “yes sir.”
I could have attempted to defend myself and fight off my older, stronger and bigger bully. He probably would have pummeled me. But in my weakness, my dad’s strength was perfected. He fought for me when I wouldn’t fight for myself.
As much as we all want to be self-sufficient and strong enough to handle every struggle and fight through every obstacle, we simply are not that strong. We need to know and understand the strength of our Heavenly Father. We need to know and understand that He will use and leverage His strength for our benefit. We need to know with confidence and understanding that He is watching everything that is going on in our life and that when we encounter bullies, He comes quickly to our defense.
There may be things in your life that seem impossible to fight off, whether it be an attitude, addiction, debt, or any problem or struggle but know and be confident that Your God, Your Father is going to defend you and fight for you in ways you could never do for yourself. Once God grabs hold of your bullies, they will never mess with you again. In your weakness, God’s strength is perfected.