The walk home from middle school was only a mile, but it felt like a million. I packed my books into my canvas bag, slung it over my shoulder, and zipped up my coat.
I pushed open the exit door, happy to leave the place behind. I never felt like I fit in, and I didn’t try all that hard to. I thought my peer group was immature, and I couldn’t bring myself down to that level. I had already tried smoking at 11, felt incredibly guilty, and that was all the farther I was willing to delve into juvenile delinquency type behavior.
I had friends in elementary school, but they had chosen to follow the road of least effort and do drugs and other activities I didn’t care to participate in. I kept dodging their invites, so they deemed me an outsider who thought she was superior to them. When I didn’t bow down to the peer pressure, they ridiculed and threw me aside.
Because of the so called rejection and my decision to walk away, I didn’t trust anyone. If they could turn on me like that, who else would? So I shut myself off and kept a safe distance from everyone.
It had been awhile since his harassment began, and like a winged creature, he would swoop out of nowhere and follow me. I had no protection other than to push the ignore button. He was two years younger than I was, so quite a bold move on his part to try and gain my attention.
His approach was aggressive as he would invade my personal space by standing in front of me, blocking the way. Like a small, yapping dog, he would say vile things. None of what streamed out of his mouth was frightening; it just made me angry.
I generally just kept my eyes locked straight ahead and my hands in my pockets. I said nothing in return and kept on moving as best as I could. Inwardly I could not believe how demented this kid was, and I did not indicate that he even existed.
I had been trained at home to treat my older brother that way. My mom had told me that my reaction would determine whether the situation would halt in its tracks or keep going. I had learned to breeze past my sibling, not giving him the satisfaction of my time. He was left standing by himself with no one to torment.
I was applying that theory to this situation, but it didn’t seem to be working. This troll wasn’t backing down. He had been doing this since the first day of school, and it was now mid-February. I could have told my brothers to handle him, but I felt that was an unfair advantage because they were double his age. On some level, I knew he was a mess, but I was hoping he would get bored and leave me alone.
As usual, he was hiding behind a tree and jumped in front of me. This game was so old and predictable. That particular day, the air was skin burning cold with a wicked wind, and my legs felt frozen with frostbite.
He started in with his usual litany of talk as I tried to escape. I crossed the street, he followed close by, running in circles around me, hurling disgusting comments. I could see my breath in the air as I sighed and made a decision. I stopped and turned around to face him.
He was shorter than me, with a height not even to my shoulders. He seemed to think this was the victory he had been longing for. The big moment had arrived, and he felt he had wooed me with his words. A crooked smile spread across his face. Another surge of fury went through me, and what he didn’t see coming was my gloved fist making contact with his nose. I purposely tried to have him feel the impact of the ring I had on my middle finger. The cold air added to the pain of the punch.
“You hit me!”
I dropped my book bag to the ground, ready to do it again. It felt good to unleash on him finally.
He crouched down at my feet while I
towered over him.
“My nose,” he wailed.
I didn’t feel the slightest bit of remorse. I was more than ready to do it again.
He stumbled back to his feet, covering his face.
“I’m telling my mom!”
I picked up my bag and said,
“Where do you live? I will come with you and tell her everything you have been saying to me.”
He looked like he would have rather died of a stroke.
His target and object of affection had now turned the tables on him.
“Get away from me!”
He started backing up, and I moved in closer. Half looking at me, half beginning to run, he began to flee, but I pursued him. The hunter had now become the hunted.
“Leave me alone! I’m telling!”
“I know. Let’s go tell!”
He broke out into a full on run, and so did I despite the ice. When he rounded the corner, I stopped, and he went on without me, never to bother me again.
Sometimes in life, you have to rise and put a stop to things that are a nuisance. If we passively sit by and let situations or people push us down, we have given away our God given power. Whether we surrender it out of fear or to be “nice”, there comes a time when we have to get honest and cut ties with it to be our authentic selves.
The pest appeared to be intimidating, but he fell like a house of cards when it came right down to it. While I had to fight back physically, most battles will be mental. We will have to go toe to toe with thoughts like worry, low self-esteem, or negativity. Putting them in their place will bring an end to the disruption. Some may linger and taunt relentlessly, seemingly hindering your purpose and destiny. Still, if one keeps persistently refusing to accept the illusion, a new mindset will knock out the false one.
In Romans 12:2, we are given great advice on how to silence the bullying thoughts that plague us:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. (NLT)
You can shut off the unnecessary noise through prayer, filling one’s mind with positive news and acting on the instructions of heaven. When you decide not to allow it anymore, God will clear your path and pave it with peace as you make your way home.