Wanna Fight Me?

Psalm 68:5

Almost every young man has heard these words at some point in his growing up years. It seemed to me that I encountered them more frequently than most. Not only was I the Preacher’s Kid, but I also wore thick black-framed glasses, and I made good grades. That’s the trifecta for bullies on the prowl.  My father had frequently advised me, “Son, don’t you ever start a fight, but if someone else starts it, you finish it.” When the gauntlet was thrown, however, and the adrenaline triggered my “fight or flight” response, I most often flighted, as fast as I could. The recurring resulting emotion was one of double shame. I was a coward, and I had let my father down.

1950s Two Boys Wear Tee Shirts Blue Jeans Playing Rough Fighting Wrestling On The Grass

Junior High and High School were especially fraught with pitfall and peril. When I lived in Hartley, America, I spent most days wondering who would try to beat me up that day.  Our class was the largest in school (21 students), and I was the only one who had not been born and raised there. I was the only one who didn’t own a pair of cowboy boots. I was the only one with long hair and bell-bottom jeans. Jimbo, Gerald, Matt (and some really big pock-faced guy whose name escapes me), had me squarely in their cross-hairs. Jimbo was especially diligent.

I remember standing in the cafeteria line, and he uttered a couple of adolescent boys’ favorite vulgarities at me. I didn’t respond. He went on mocking; “Wes can’t say those words. He’s a KREESCHUN!” I reluctantly admit, in that moment I didn’t especially want to be one. After I got my food, I sat silently in my normal corner spot in the back.

For weeks-on-end, this wiry banty-rooster would meet me outside the school, challenging me, taunting me. I understand that evolution created the innate need for the masculine species to have a clearly defined Alpha male, and the ensuing pecking order. I wanted no part of it. One day, however, I knew it was inevitable; I had to at least make a pretense at fighting, and pretense I made. What seemed like the entire student body gathered across the street behind the local Community Center / Boy Scout building, waiting with bated breath. I successfully feigned fighting.  He and I squared off, and I lunged wildly. I hit him in the fist with my eye. I thwarted his left upper-cut with my gut. I popped him in the knee with my groin. It was heroic. By that time, of course, the school principal had arrived and intervened. Mr. Privett dispersed the crowd and instructed us to report to him the next day.

The following morning, we were both seated in the administrative outer office, awaiting our sentence – Jimbo with a gloating smirk, and me, stone faced.  I have no idea what the principal said to him, as we were in conference separately. When it was my turn, I sat in the appointed chair.  The principal looked intently at me a moment, then did the unthinkable. Referring to my deceased father, he shook his head and said, “Wes… what would your dad think of all this?” I was instantly reduced to tears. Of course, I knew my father would not have berated me for enduring an unwanted bout, but he also would not approve of me giving a half-hearted effort. No matter. Just the thought of him did me in.

That incident, followed closely by several others, was one of the darkest times of my young life. Two classmates came to my house one night and attempted to physically drag me outside. Not long afterward, another classmate attempted to dislocate my jaw just before first period. This continuing pattern left me feeling powerless. One day, I decided I’d had enough, so I formulated a plan. Just before school, I strapped a butcher knife to my ankle and dropped my jeans over it. I would not be pushed around today. They would pay, and dearly.  I sat steely-eyed through first period, second period, and halfway through third period. I suddenly came to my senses and realized what I was doing could never end well. I left in the middle of class and ran home.

All I could do for a long time was sit on my bed and loudly wail. There was no one to hear my plight, and there was no one to protect me. When my tears finally played out and a sullen void was the only thing left, I became aware of a quiet voice in my mind. “Wes, I am your father now.” In that moment, I knew God was my protector.  Since that day, I’ve never had to fight, and I’ve never had to run. I simply stand my ground. My Father takes care of the rest.


Published in: on July 10, 2018 at 2:55 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Amazing..thanks for sharing brother!

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