Monday, April 7, 2014

Dealing with bullies - a personal journey (Psalm 56:2)

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 56:2 (TM) – larger reading Psalm 56
Not a day goes by but somebody beats me up; They make it their duty to beat me up.

In his book Fuzzy Memories, Jack Handey writes: There used to be this bully who would demand my lunch money every day. Since I was smaller, I would give it to him. Then I decided to fight back. I started taking karate lessons. But then the karate lesson guy said I had to start paying him five dollars a lesson. So I just went back to paying the bully. 
Too many people feel it is easier just to pay the bully than it is to learn how to defeat him.

His name was Dick Locke. He was my bully. He would simply yell across the playground, “Hey, Martin, it’s your turn. Come get beat up!” He was stronger, faster, and meaner than I could ever be. It was a miserable couple of years.

I understand now that he was simply angry. I was simply his release valve. Easier to just kick the skinny kid (6 feet and 110 lbs) than to deal with whatever the real problem was. It was his “duty” to beat me up. Oh, by the way, it didn’t help that I would mouth off at him. Not a wise thing on my part… but, I too was angry at the world… or at least those who made up the “controlling” part of my world.

I finally found peace and tranquility in and through the church. The church became my real family. It was the church who loved me regardless of who I was. It became my home... my family. And through the church, Allapattah Methodist in Miami, I found purpose for my life.

I’ve often wondered about Dick Locke. Whatever became of him? I’ve done the Google thing and came up with nothing, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering… and praying… and hoping that there was a “Allapattah” in Dick’s life.

When you are being beaten up all you want is for it to stop. Just make the pain go away. Learning to defeat the bullies takes a lot of patience and tremendous amount of love. Boy, I can’t do that! But that is just the point, God never asks us to do something that we can do.

And so we pray for him to make them stop and if we listen, really listen, he’ll tell us how. God’s message to me was: Stop fighting back. Stop running. The message was delivered one summer at Leesburg Youth Camp via God’s messenger Dr. D. D. Holt.

And so, one summer evening at the Manor Park pool I stopped. Dick met me at the bottom of the steps. He came to beat me up. I just couldn’t fight any longer. He hit me hard. I went down. He was on top of me hitting me over and over and over again. I just lay there looking up at him. “Aren’t you going to fight?” he asked. “No, Dick, I’m not. I’m tried of fighting you.” In frustration and a little anger he got off of me and walked away. It was the last time Dick sought me out to beat me up.

Our paths would cross again during high school, but there were no more beatings, no more running, no more bullying. Maybe my prayers to God to make it stop finally kicked in. All I knew was that I wasn’t being kicked any longer.

I really do wonder whatever happened to Dick Locke. Did he find happiness and fulfillment in his life or did he end up behind bars.


God, come rescue all those who are being beaten up. Give them the courage to love their bully in spite of the kicking. Bring peace where there is hatred … and show us what can and must do to bring an end to bullying in our world!

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