Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A story about being brave

Being brave doesn't mean not being afraid; it means being afraid and doing it anyway


I had one from the 3rd to the 5th grade. She taunted me during recess and gym. Juanita the giant had a brutish frame and toward over me by a foot. I still remember the fear that arose in me each time I saw her walking my way.

I was the butt of all her jokes in elementary school, pretty much every day. It wasn't uncommon to hear "big ole' barrel" or "big legs" or the word fatso from her and her friends. I'd go home crying and consoling in my mother only to hear her say "whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger". She'd also say, "You tell those kids, sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me". I hated that she simply couldn't teach me how to karate chop someone’s buns and end the entire thing in a physical show of violence. So instead, I stuffed it and the anger brood and simmered till one day, I'd had enough.

It was a sunny warm day outside and we had just been released to gym class. It was a free day which consisted of playing dodge ball, hula hooping or jump rope. I opted for the hula hoop and was minding my own business when Juanita the giant eyeballed me from across the black top.

I took a few deep breaths, turned around and started to slowly move myself to the farthest corner away from her. It was too late, she had seen me cower, my sweat must have reeked of fear because before I knew it, I turned around and my eyes focused on the broad chest in my face. I looked up and met her eyes and prayed she'd leave me alone but instead she gave me a good shove that sent me stumbling 3 feet back and down to the ground.

The blood quickly rushed to my ears and I could hear my heart beat loudly within my chest, then all at once a serge of adrenaline shot thru me at lightning speed and before I knew it I was back up on my feet and pointing my finger into her chest, "You wanna to beat me up? Then fine, meet ME after school across the street!"

I didn't wait around long enough to witness her reaction all I knew is that I had had enough and if my life was going to end then I wouldn't prevent it from happening. I wanted it to stop, all of it: the taunting, the threats, and constant remarks. I was already resenting my words however as I realized what I had done. I had challenged her and now my butt was going to hit the grass hard.

The next 2 hours of my life, I'm certain were used to truly test my character. I was so scared of what awaited me after school that I gave myself whiplash, whipping my head to look at the clock every few minutes. I was tempted to make a plan to run but I knew the taunting would just increase. Once the bell rang I knew there was no escape or way out of the scheduled beating I had planned for myself so I dragged my feet as slowly as I could out the door.

Our apartment was right across the street from the school. When a fight was getting ready to break out, the kids who lived in the complex would gather and wait. Apparently the word had spread that I was going to get the beat down because as I turned the corner of the school building and looked across the street 12 to 15 kids were staring me down and a few were pointing the finger my way. "There’s no getting out this", I told myself. I was so scared I thought I was going to pee myself but I wasn't going to back down. I'd written the check and Juanita was getting ready to cash it.

I crossed the street and put my things down on the ground and entered the circle awaiting my oppressor. We ALL stood around waiting then waiting some more. I thought the wait was just another way of Juanita torturing me but when a kid yelled "Look, look! It's Juanita, over there!" we all turned to the street to witness Juanita sitting in the back seat of her mom’s car driving away from the school.

You could hear the disappointed sighs and "Oh mans" from some of the kids as they gathered there things and made the trek to their homes sad that they wouldn't stand witness at the violence they had anticipated to occur. I simply stood in disbelief: "Did she forget?" "What just happened?", "I thought she was going to beat me". Then relief and joy overcame me as I realized that Juanita was even more scared than I was and she had chickened out. I ran home as fast as I could to tell my mom about what happened. I knew she wasn't going to be happy that I had challenged Juanita to a fist fight but I didn't care I'd done it and Juanita was a big chicken of little ole me!

No sooner had I finished my account of what happened when we heard a pounding on the front door. My mom went to answer and I peeked around her to look out the door. Shock came over me as I realized it was Juanita's mom. I was expecting maybe she had heard what Juanita had done and had come to make amends and make Juanita apologize but instead she proceeded to tell my mother that I had threatened her daughter and she had to go and pick her up from school.

Before I knew it, harsh words were exchanged and Juanita’s mother got the door slammed in her face and that's the last time I had to deal with anymore terror from Juanita the giant. The girl couldn't even look me in the eye any time after that.

Being brave doesn't mean not being afraid, it means being afraid and doing it anyway.

I love that quote because it's sooooooo true.

I read an awesome book about 8 months ago: Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado. The story of David and Goliath is my favorite story because when I think of it, I'm reminded of my experience with Juanita. I go back to the fear that I felt and how much better I felt after I faced my fear. Juanita did me a huge favor that day sparing me the need to defend myself but not only that she showed me that sometimes we make a mountain out of a moe hill. She was physically a mountain on the outside to me but on the inside she was just another little scared girl wanting to prove she was tougher than she really was.

It's sad that Juanita made herself feel better by picking on me and I've always wondered what kind of adult she grew up to be. I'd never change a thing about my relationship with her because I will always come back to this experience when I'm faced with a giant in my life. I only hope Juanita learned something too.

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1 comment:

  1. Gah! I LOVED this post! love, love, loved it!

    And this quote? Being brave doesn't mean not being afraid, it means being afraid and doing it anyway. SO true!