Friday, November 11, 2011

I believe in fighting back.

She was pointing her finger at me and laughing at my socks.  Somehow she had noticed that I was wearing the same pair two days in a row and decided that everyone in the room should be alerted to my lack of hygiene.  My face flushed and I struggled to answer her claim.  You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just claim clearly and confidently that I had two pairs of the same socks; after all, most people do, and often they wear them on subsequent days, right?  But I completely lacked the confidence to speak up on my own behalf.  Plus she was right, and I was tongue tied by that knowledge.  I pray my own kids find lying as difficult as I did back then.

This occasion is memorable to me because a girl named Caryn swooped in to my rescue.  She had noticed that my accuser was wearing the same pair of BLUE JEANS she had worn the day before.  It was obvious, because she had acted so cool when she’d written her name on the leg in pen, in front of us all, the day before.  Needless to say, as soon as Caryn mentioned the jeans, she dropped her suit against me for my socks.
I was so grateful to Caryn.  I wondered why people were scouring my wardrobe for mistakes, but she never seemed to draw any fire.  Of course, there’s the obvious – the coolness I so notably lack and she so effortlessly emanated.  Possibly, she never wore similar looking socks on subsequent days?  No.  It was more than her fashion choices.  There have been long articles and mini-specials offered on how to avoid or deal with bullies, but the answer I eventually noticed and practiced is so obvious it’s ridiculous.  Bullies backed off and left me alone, just about for good, when I started doing what Caryn did.  I started standing up, not just for myself, but for others.

It’s one thing to put together some good one-liners, to change your route or routine to avoid problems, or to carry extra lunch money.  Those are all actions that will help with self-preservation.  But nothing seems to intimidate an intimidator more than speaking up on behalf of others.  All it takes is doing so once or twice to discover that you have all the confidence and courage you need to make a difference for yourself and others.
There are so many broken people in this broken world who exploit the vulnerable to fill their own needs, from sixth grade bullies, to bosses on a power trip, to harassers and abusers.  If you don’t want yourself or your loved ones to be a victim, then don’t let someone else be a victim.  When you know something is wrong, say so.  You aren’t just rescuing that victim, you are protecting yourself.

And if that fails, a solid punch to the stomach should buy you enough time to get away.  Jesus may have suffered in silence, but God’s going to have to call my kids with that message directly, because I’m not going to teach them to let themselves be victims.  As Michael Landon’s angel on Highway to Heaven said after taking a second punch, “Now don’t say I didn’t turn the other cheek.”  Then he kicked tail.
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Isaiah 1:17

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