I think I was a bully magnet in my earlier school years.
Perhaps being small for my size put a bullseye on my back.
I’m not sure why some people singled me out to taunt and threaten, but I became familiar with the signs that let me know I had to put my dukes up after school.
It always went something like this.
The fight initiator would tighten their lips, squint their eyes, softly hit their closed fist up against their jaw, point at me with the free hand, give me that death stare and silently mouth, “Me and you after school.”
I knew it was on and popping when that happened.
I’d get this sinking feeling in my gut each time, just like I experienced right before the earliest “official” scrap I can recall.
I was in something like the second or third grade—not sure which—when I was first challenged to a brawl.
That turned into the longest, most miserable bus ride ever. I knew that when the driver reached my stop, it would be time for the dreaded showdown.
I wanted no parts of it!
An older girl on the bus said she would beat me up and I was terrified. I mean, couldn’t we talk it out? Was violence really necessary?
I wanted to disappear!
Anything not to have to fight.
If it were at all possible, I wanted that cup to pass from me.
All the older kids in my neighborhood egged me on. They were intent on seeing some action that day on the east side of Buffalo. It all went down on Leroy Avenue.
I lived around the corner back then.
“You better hit her, Dianna!” the instigators shouted, causing me to feel pressure. Honestly, I wanted to run, but even my older sister Shavette wouldn’t let me weasel out of that fight.
“You better whip her butt,” she demanded.
Knowing there was no way out of the altercation, I just began randomly swinging.
It was the “swimming method,” where you tuck your head down, let your fists fly and allow them to land where they may. It wasn’t the most accurate way of connecting punches with someone’s chin. But the odds say, if you throw enough shots, something has to eventually hit its target.
It was an uncoordinated mess.
But when I snapped back to reality, my unofficial ringside scorers told me, “You won, Dianna!”
Disoriented, I thought, Huh? I did?
A guy who lived in our neighborhood laughed and said, “That’s the first time I ever saw anyone win a fight swinging backwards.”
That became the running joke in our social circle and I’ll admit, I was a bit embarrassed by it.
Well, angry about losing, the girl regained her composure and came back to reclaim her title from the new, unlikely champ—me.
Before I could re-start my backwards attack though, my big sister intervened and it wasn’t pretty. She was rougher and more skilled.
Shavette beat the poor child senseless.
By the time she commanded, “Come on, Dianna. Let’s go—now!” I saw her victim lying in the snow face down. She was bleeding.
Boy did we get in trouble when the wounded child and her dad showed up on our porch to tell our father.
Daddy, the good reverend, was not too pleased to learn that his “sanctified” daughters had been in the streets scrapping like wild animals.
Though the other girl started the fight, the fact that she took a mean pounding made us look like savages.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that experience.
As I grew older, though smaller than pretty much everyone else in my class, I realized fear was at least one of the things that invited attacks from enemies seeking out trouble.
Bullies, who were experts at picking out the weaker students, could smell fear on me.
Over time, I got myself together.
The less scared and intimidate I was, the fewer challenges I received from opponents.
Of course, it did help when word got around that the little short girl could fight.
I eventually learned how to punch forward.
Now, obviously, I am not condoning physical violence, but I want to make a point, especially using the example of my first fight.
Had I known my sister, who was much bigger and stronger, would step in and fight for me, I would have been less nervous about being targeted. Had I been confident that she wouldn’t let me be defeated without intervening, I would have experienced a whole lot less nervousness before battling it out.
She had my back all along.
I was protected.
The same principle can be applied to our spiritual walk.
Sometimes, we walk around fearful of the enemy, scared of new opportunities, intimidated by opponents and dreading attacks. We worry that we aren’t strong enough on our own to rise to the challenge.
And you know what?
But the good thing about it all is we’re not alone.
God never abandons you or me.
But if we don’t have enough faith to believe that He is fighting for us and working on our behalf, we will be filled with anxiousness and terror, like Abram was in Genesis 12:10-20.
When the biblical “Father of Faith” and his wife Sarai went to Egypt to escape famine, he was gripped with fear that the Egyptians would harm him in order to steal his wife.
To avoid this undesirable fate, Abram came up with his own plan rooted in fear.
“Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you,” he told her in verse 13.
Abram assumed he needed to come up with a plan, because he didn’t realize God already had one. The Lord had his back all along, just as He has yours.
To help His scared servant, God sent a plague of serious diseases among the Egyptians and informed the Pharaoh that the woman he had taken possession of was indeed Abram’s wife.
Those folks couldn’t get rid of Abram and Sarai fast enough!
The King wondered why Abram didn’t just tell the truth.
Because He was walking in fear and not faith. That's why.
“Take her and go!” the King ordered.
All that time, Abram had been afraid for nothing.
In fact, sadly, his fear could have cost him his wife if God didn’t intervene.
Friend, being afraid will cause you to give up things that rightly belong to you. You’ll settle for less, trust God less and possess less than what God desires you to have. Fear is a thief.
So today, cast fear out of your life by reminding yourself of who’s in control.
To remind you not to worry or be afraid, I’m stirring Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV into your cup of inspiration. It says, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
When you drink down the contents of your cup of inspiration today, you will rejoice in knowing that our mighty God will keep you, carry you, and coach you as you navigate treacherous waters, rough terrain, and fierce storms of life.
You will be reminded that there’s no need to fear the environment when the One who controls the environment is in you and for you.
Again, cast fear out of your life. You cannot be full of faith and full of fear.
The very next time worry tries to creep in, remember Isaiah 43:2, that says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
You can walk through the valley of the shadow of death and still fear no evil when you know that God is with you. (Psalm 23:4)
Now let’s pray.
God, I thank You for reminding me that You are for me, with me and working through me. Today, I come against any fear, doubt, and worry over any circumstances that may come to try me. As long as I have You, the Greatest One of all, I am more than a conqueror. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
As always, thanks for reading and until next time... may today's cup of inspiration uplift, encourage, and empower you!
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