this is the weekly installment of fifty life-changing events in my life…fifty different situations i found myself in, that helped shape the person i’ve become, for better or worse. i am certainly more than the sum total of these events, but there is no doubt i would be significantly different without them!
i’ve been around boys all my life.
my career goal out of high school, until i started doing church youth ministry in my mid twenties, was to be national director of boys and girls clubs. my first real job in college was a gym and playfield director at my local boy’s club down the street from the house i grew up in.
i know boys. and one characteristic of little boys…and most of them as they grow up into big boys…is fighting. boys love to wrestle. boys love to compete. boys love to stand their ground. and those boys who aren’t really that way have to live in the same world boys who are.
and fighting happens.
part of life is learning to live with bullies. today, bullying is well-known. everybody knows it is wrong. kids are educated about it from the time they start school. but in my day, bullies ruled the school playground and you just had to learn how to navigate the choppy waters.
i have been in one fist fight in my life. one. and i’ll never forget it. i was eight years old and in the second grade. i was at my friend’s house, when one of the neighborhood bullies walked by. i was younger than most of my friends, but i was pretty athletic and i was always picked for the kickball team, because i could kick the ball father than all of the older boys.
sometimes, that didn’t set too well with the older guys.
anyway, the bully started to poke at me and make fun of me and talk all kinds of trash about me, so i did what i had seen other boys do: i stood up for myself. it seemed like the right thing to do. words escalated to face to face. face to face turned to chest to chest. chest to chest turned to shoving.
and the next thing i knew, the bully had me pinned to the ground with his knees on my shoulders and he was pummeling my face with his fists.
as best as i can remember, my friends must have pulled him off and i have this vague memory of him walking away laughing as i drug my bloodied, embarrassed face home to mommy. oh, the shame.
i have been a peacemaker ever since. i’m a lover, not a fighter. i use my words, not my fists.
so when jesus talked, turning the other cheek has never been a hard command for me to follow.
it beats getting the crap beat out of you.