To get this out of the way early this based on my recollection of true events.
I was not always the amazing badass I confuse myself with my entire life. In fact when this series of events occoured I was in the equivalent of 8th grade and I was the quintessential geek except that I didn't do math. Everything but math actually.
My home was in Northern Ireland at the time, my dad was a pastor there for those years and I generally enojyed my time spent there- when I wasn't being used as a beating bag. This happened often enough that I had gotten used to it, however I'd be lying if I said it wasn't annoying. I would also be lying if I neglected to tell you that I was active in learning something that might gain me a little respect.
You see I had had it about up to here (pointing over the top of my head) with getting beaten up every few weeks. It was not only difficult for myself but it was hard on my mum who would not only have to treat my injuries but also fix my school uniform after every beating. So there came a time when Mum enrolled me in Karate class, I learned quickly, I could defend myself well, and land kicks and punches with authority if needs be. However I'd made a conscious decision to not be the agressor and to simply use my Karate skills, balance and agility defensively.
For goodness sake I was even kind enough to warn some of the bullies that they shouldn't arse around with me anymore since it might not end well.
Well one day at a class a few hours before lunch Ralph, the meanest bully in the school confronted me at the front of classroom.
"Ross I'm going to pulverize you at lunch break."
"Well I'm not going to fight you."
Oh eck! What the bloody 'ell are you thinking.
"I'm going to pulverize you at lunch break."
'That's fine I'm not going to fight you."
I said it again. Oh great.
Ralph just sneered as he stalked off, getting a few high fives. And word of the upcoming non fight travelled not just around the room, but the school.
Well at lunch break all of the students except some select Prefects (extra-Awesome cool students) are kicked out of the school building and not allowed in for around 45 minutes. In case you were wondering there was no way it would be possible to avoid Ralph for 4 minutes let alone 45. Why is that?
Well the moment I got out the door, Ralph's co-bullies began to herd me towards the tarmac part of the school grounds. Soon enough I was surrounded by the entire school body as they'd formed a large circle for Ralph to pulverize me in. What nice chaps! The only way out of that circle was going to be painful and probably rather bloody, at least it would've been if I hadn't got God in my corner.
You see He'd been the one who made me say that I wouldn't fight, and it was Him that would in some crazy way help me in what was about to happen. So I prayed silently again as I waited in the circle for Ralph to show up.
"FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!" called out everyone in unison as Ralph approached me.
"I'm gonna pulverize your arse!"
"I'm not going to fight you Ralph."
I watched him carefully knowing that I had to somehow predict what was coming next. It ended up being his right fist and it had enough energy to rip my head from my shoulders and send it half way across the tarmac. At the last moment I dodged to the side leaning back and twisting my head, his fist caught my nose and my glasses. My nose stayed on my face but my glasses did not.
Now I should have made this clear earlier I'm a scrawny stick figure who at the time needed to wear skis in the shower so I wouldn't fall down the drain. Ralph on the other hand was a juggernaut, he just didn't like anyone, he beat up other bullies. He was also rather rotund.
Ralph was practically doubled over as I wiped the blood off my nose, he was also rather breathless, I walked away my back to him to pick up my glasses.
"I'm not going to fight you."
Picking up my glasses I put them back on expecting at any time to meet the left fist but it didn't come until I had begun to turn around. I felt Ralph accelerating behind me and I was quite close to the far side and near the other students who weren't chanting quite so enthusiastically anymore, so I used Ralphs' momentum against him.
Without looking all the way back I simply stepped out of the way, he caught me with a bit of his shoulder and spun me around. But the only thing he really did of importance was go flying into the crowd of kids.
"I'm NOT going to fight you Ralph."
Loud and clear.
I walked away, my legs were like jello I was so certain that at any moment Ralph would jump on me and start the slaughter. However there was this peace inside me as I painfully walked over the tarmac towards the side of the crowd nearest the building. Eventually I got there, no attack from Ralph, but would the other students hold me in the ring. I stood and waited, wiped my nose again coming back with more blood.
I closed my eyes willing them to let me out waiting for Ralph to just knock me down and out- and then I heard the murmuring, the amazed whispering.
One of the guys who would ordinarily have pushed me back in said: "Let him out. Let him out!"
Opening my eyes I saw a passage through the throng like the parting of the Red Sea, and I limped through, past the stunned whispers of everyone. The Prefects let me in to see the school nurse, I had survived- but that's not the end of the story.
Forgiveness and Friendship
After lunch I had Biology and so did Ralph. I wondered what would happen. I envisioned him sneering and saying- "Same time tomorrow."
Before class started I sensed Ralph approaching but it wasn't the same Ralph that had confronted me hours before, it was a broken Ralph. You see I had done worse than beat him up, I had made him look like a fool, incapable and impotent. He had gone from being a respected bully to a laughingstock.
How would I respond when he talked to me? What kind of a witness would I be to the entire class and through gossip- the student body.
"I know you are."
"Will you be my friend?"
Are you barking mad? You've been a total wanker to me you don't deserve it! You deserve to look like a fool!
"Of course Ralph, I'm glad you asked- that's all I ever wanted."
I shook his hand and he returned to his seat.
The Moral of the Story
There's quite a few I could think of but the biggest one for me is standing up for what you believe in. I believed then (and still do now) that God would bring me through. Eventually Ralph would come to the end of himself and change. Both of those things happened, God was there, God did bring me through- and through my actions that day on the tarmac Ralph learned about both Humility and mercy.
Sometimes kind words do more damage than the hardest punches.