Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Everything Changed at Mr M

I don’t remember exactly what grade I was in. I think it was the fourth grade. Maybe it was the fifth. I am not sure. But I remember being very afraid of the neighborhood bully Pat Reed. I don’t know why. He had never hit me. But I tried to avoid him whenever I rode my bike to “Mr. M” the convenience store a few blocks away. There was just something about him, an influence that radiated from him that made me fear him. So the day he told me he was going to fight me, everything changed. And I knew there was no way out.

“…but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.” 1 John 4:18 (King James Version)

I went home and told my mom that I was scheduled to fight Pat Reed at the Mr M after school. God how I miss my mother! She asked me how I felt about it, and I told her I was afraid. I had never been in a fight before, especially with the caliber of warrior like Pat Reed. She told me that she was going to teach me how to fight. And she did. We went into the back yard and she instructed me that I needed to keep my hands up. She talked about punching in the nose, and fighting fair. But mostly she told me to fight to win. I took an exam cram because the time of testing was at hand. As the hour approached, she took out some of my old Catholic School uniform khakis that I hadn’t worn since I started attending public school because she knew there might be a fray involved and she didn’t want me to tear my “good clothes”. I had to leave and I told her to stay at home. This was something I had to do by myself. I hopped on my bicycle and headed up the street. I wanted to turn around, but I DIDN’T.

“The children of Ephraim were armed and carrying bows, yet they turned back in the day of battle.” Psalm 78:9 (Amplified Bible)

The appointed time came. I was standing in the field adjacent to the store ready to get my ass thoroughly kicked. Pat Reed was late. I stood there with my friends anxious with anticipation. Time flew. Still no Pat. The sun started to set. My enemy, the object of my paralyzing fear was a no-show. In my mind he was going to make quick work of me and walk away in triumph with my bloody liver stuck to the top of a very sharp stick. It never occurred to me that the reason he never showed was because of my courage. It seems that as long as everyone feared Pat Reed, he had no need to show whether he was as tough as we all imagined or not. I never realized that my one single act of courage: simply agreeing to fight, would throw his world into a tizzy. And he would be exposed as a fraud. I can’t begin to tell you how freeing that day was. It was as if I walked out of a cave that imprisoned me my whole life into the light of confidence in myself.

Months later my friends and I were riding our bikes to the fireworks stand to buy some bottle rockets. We had made launchers to shoot Roman candles and bottle rockets at about everything we could. There on the side of the road coming towards me was Pat Reed. As his bike approached, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel fear. He stopped and looked at me, and demanded my brown paper sack full of fireworks. I dismounted my bike and said in defiance: “No”! Then I did something that changed the course of my life forever. I walked over to him and pushed him down. He got up, but he didn’t swing at me. He looked stunned and picked up his bike. He quickly got on and rode away as fast as he could. I couldn’t believe it. The object of my terror, the bane of my school existence, the nonvanquishable foe was nothing but a little boy with a need for some serious counseling. I was determined to never be held hostage to that kind of fear ever again!

So why do I write this story? Because I read my daughter’s blog tonight and it made me sad. I wonder if my mother felt sad when she thought about how much I was afraid of Pat Reed. And I also wonder why I never took my daughter in the backyard and taught her how to fight when she was young. I now wish I would have told her how to punch financial fears right in the nose. I lament not having taken out the khaki garments of faith and told her to “bitch slap” the enemy when he whispers in her ear how God will not provide for her. I regret not showing her how to hold her fist of assurance in God right in front of her face to fend off heavy blows. I wish I could hold her as fear rides her way on her road to the fireworks stand. And most of all, what I wouldn’t give to be able to watch her as she pushes the despair of her not knowing what to do right off of his rusty bicycle. She is such a warrior. But somehow I forgot to tell her that. I always tried to let her know that she is loved. But sadly, I did a very poor job of letting her know how strong she is. She has no idea that Pat Reed is actually afraid of her, and not the other way around. But if she will just ride towards Mr M in expectation, I believe that God will show her things that will change her life forever.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2 (King James Version)

1 comment:

  1. Coyote8:13 AM

    Great post!!! I love it!!!

    Psalm 18:39
    For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.